The Residence

April 23, 2015 History, Narrative Non-Fiction, non-fiction 17 ★★★★★

The ResidenceTitle: The Residence
Author: Kate Andersen Brower
Source: TLC Book Tours
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

SummaryFascinating and easily readable narrative nonfiction, perfect for fans of the genre or of Downton Abbey.

“America’s First Families are unknowable in many ways. No one has insight into their true character like the people who serve their meals and make their beds every day. Full of stories and details by turns dramatic, humorous, and heartwarming, The Residence reveals daily life in the White House as it is really lived through the voices of the maids, butlers, cooks, florists, doormen, engineers, and others who tend to the needs of the President and First Family. ” (source)

This is one of those reads that was so much exactly what I wanted to read when I picked it up, that I almost feel biased reviewing it. I’ve been loving good narrative nonfiction lately and this was some awesome narrative nonfiction. The author did an amazing job telling a stories that brought the staff to life and gave fascinating insights into the lives of the presidents and families they served. She integrated quotes into the story so they flowed well. I also particularly appreciated that she often shared quotes from people who had opposite perspectives. When an author does this, it makes them feel more trustworthy. It made me believe that this author was giving us a story largely unbiased by her own opinions.

Although White House staff are generally discrete, the author learned some very juicy details. These bits definitely held my interest, but what truly made this book difficult to put down was the author’s ability to bring to life more quotidian events and her organization of the book, putting the presidents’ daily lives into a larger context. I love when nonfiction that focuses on a small topic uses it to teach me about historical context as well. I also love nonfiction that I think could bring in readers who don’t usually pick up nonfiction because it relates to another genre or interest. With this one, it is created for Downton Abbey fans. There are intrigues above and below stairs, widely varying interactions between different staff members and different presidents, and crazy amounts of pampering for the first families. So, in addition to recommending this to other lovers of narrative nonfiction on any topic, I’d highly recommend this to fans of the show.

Are there any nonfiction books you’ve read that you think would be perfect for drawing in readers with particular interests? Or who are typically fans of another genre?

For some other perspectives, be sure check out the other stops on the tour.

17 Responses to “The Residence”

    • DoingDewey

      I haven’t watched any Downton Abbey, but this made me want too! It really was fascinating seeing how people this privileged lived. I also enjoyed seeing how the families interacted with the people who worked in the white house, so I think both of those are things I’d like about Downton Abbey too.

  1. Naomi

    I like your new look!
    This books sounds good. “I love when nonfiction that focuses on a small topic uses it to teach me about historical context as well.” I love this, too! Added to my list.

    • DoingDewey

      I hadn’t read any other books like this, but I think it’s a type of book I’ll look for in the future. Thanks for including me in the tour! 🙂

  2. Sarah's Book Shelves

    I love your blog makeover! Love the lightness of it!

    And – this book is totally up my alley. Presidential life has always fascinated me and I enjoyed The Presidents Club and Ronald Kessler’s books about the first families from the perspective of the Secret Service.

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Sarah! The colors are a big part of why I prefer this design to my old one, which included way too much brown. I love all the designs Stephanie has done too, including yours! I’d be advertising for her more in my comment replies, but it sounds like she’s too busy to take on more design work right now.

      I haven’t read many other books about presidents, but after reading this one, I’d love to pick up more.

  3. Jennine G

    Love the new look!!! And this book sounds fascinating. I’ve been having good luck with nonfiction lately! There’s so much of the style I like and interesting topics. My ten-year-old is very into presidents lately, so I’ve been setting aside stuff I find to feed him trivia and what not.

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Jennine! I’ve been having really good luck with nonfiction lately too and most of the books on my to-read pile that I can’t wait to read are nonfiction too. I feel like the nonfiction books published this year have been exceptionally interesting.

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