Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Review: Downton Abbey Style

In honor of Downton Abbey returning on Sunday {albeit only in the unfortunate Americans have to wait until January}, I wanted to blog about 2 books I read related to Downton. Yes, I'm a nerd. I believe we've already established that!

To Marry an English Lord
Plot: From the Gilded Age until 1914, more than 100 American heiresses invaded Britannia and swapped dollars for titles--just like Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, the first of the Downton Abbey characters Julian Fellowes was inspired to create after reading To Marry An English Lord. Filled with vivid personalities, gossipy anecdotes, grand houses, and a wealth of period details--plus photographs, illustrations, quotes, and the finer points of Victorian and Edwardian etiquette--To Marry An English Lord is social history at its liveliest and most accessible.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
Plot: Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes's Emmy Award-winning PBS show Downton Abbey, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war.
    Much like her Masterpiece Classic counterpart, Lady Cora Crawley, Lady Almina was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Alfred de Rothschild, who married his daughter off at a young age, her dowry serving as the crucial link in the effort to preserve the Earl of Carnarvon's ancestral home.  Throwing open the doors of Highclere Castle to tend to the wounded of World War I, Lady Almina distinguished herself as a brave and remarkable woman.
    This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.

Review: I really had no clue about this period in American or British history. So it's been a lot of fun learning about this period of time. What I liked best about both of these books was learning about the different rules of society and how these estate houses operated. It is insanely different from my upbringing that it boggles my mind. Both books got a little slow in parts but overall I really enjoyed reading them. Especially as it gave me more insight into my favorite show!


Karen M. Peterson said...

If you love Downton Abbey, you should watch the movie Gosford Park. It was written by Julian Fellowes, who created Downton Abbey. And it's really, really good.