A Footman for the Peacock by Rachel Ferguson

A Footman for the Peacock by Rachel Ferguson was originally published in 1940, but was reprinted by Dean Street Press in 2016. It’s A Furrowed Middlebrow Book.

Sir Edmund Roundelay and his extended family, including his three elderly unmarried sisters, live in a stately pile called Delaye. It’s the beginning of World War 2 and everyone is expected to ‘do their bit’ which for the Roundelays means housing a large number of children and their teachers in the unused rooms of the house.  Lady Evelyn Roundelay is having a tough enough time coping with the running of the house as it is, the rules will have to be got around. For the first time the Roundelays are having to deal with people who have been given unexpected status due to their war work, it’s a bit of a knock to their sense of entitlement, but not for long.

In the past the Roundelays had been harsh employers, literally running their young footmen to death so that they could run ahead of their carriage to clear the way for it as they drove through villages, but there are still members of staff who are descendants of past servants working in the household, there hasn’t been much in the way of social movement.

This was an enjoyable read, the blurb on the back says that it was “controversial when first published in the early days of World War II, due to its treatment of a loathsome upper-crust family dodging wartime responsibility. It can now be enjoyed as a scathing satire of class abuses, a comic masterpiece falling somewhere between Barbara Pym and Monty Python.”

It was one of my 20 Books of Summer reads.

4 thoughts on “A Footman for the Peacock by Rachel Ferguson

  1. Katrina,
    How I would love to read this–it sounds wonderful, and right up my alley.
    I’m keen and interested that you added the information that the book was controversial when it was first published. Definitely would like to find it!

  2. This is one I’ve been meaning to read. Thanks for the reminder!

    I have to admit I’d had a hard time taking in strangers, although it would be easier with servants and an enormous house – I like my space!

    • Constance,
      I/we would have been exactly the same, it would be very difficult to share our home with strangers. Jack’s grandparents had to take strangers in during the war as his grandfather was a Scottish Episcopal priest and they had a large rectory with spare rooms. The upside of that though was that his aunt married one of them, and they would never have met each other otherwise as he had lived 500 miles away in the south of England before the war took him to Scotland as a military policeman.

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