The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book has a very Downton Abbey feel to it as it explores life in the White House, not through the lens of the First Family, but through the lens of the many service staff members that make the White House run. Brower interviewed several White House staff members and combined these insights with archival research to write this narrative.
The White House is a six-floor mansion, with 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, and eight staircases and its employees are responsible for cleaning, repairing, and maintaining it all, on top of preparing everything from hors d’oeuvres for intimate gatherings to meals served at elaborate state dinners.
It was interesting to see everyday life in the White House through the eyes of apolitical people who support the First Families and whose first priority is not politics, but service. The stories they told were funny, touching, and told with a great deal of humility and respect.
The one thing that bothered me was that this book contains several stories that are also included in Brower's book, First Women. I read these two books back-to-back, so that might be why I was so cognizant of the overlaps. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book and learned some facts that I didn't know before, so all in all, a successful reading experience.
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