They Also Serve
Born the son of a gamekeeper in 1902, Bob Sharpe’s life “in service” spans the latter era of classist society in Britain. He rises through the ranks in various households all the way from garden boy to butler, propelled by an endearing personal attitude that comes through in every page of this charming memoir. One imagines hearing it in person, at tea in the retired butler’s unpretentious but cozy flat—which is no doubt exactly how Mr. Sharpe told the story to his co-author. The narrative rambles pleasantly from one episode to the next. There are no great themes here, and despite a few salacious tidbits Sharpe neither excoriates nor exalts his genteel former employers. No, that simply wouldn’t be proper. By maintaining that discretion, that attitude of perfect service, Bob Sharpe gives us a book that’s as neat and as satisfying as a freshly pressed pair of trousers. Recommended.