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Related Reads: Downton Abbey

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Revision as of 17:49, 21 March 2012

If you’ve been enthralled by the miniseries “Downton Abbey” and don’t want to leave that world just yet, expand your experience with some of these titles. Article in Themes and Read-Alikes category.

  • The World of Downton Abbey, by Jessica Fellowes - the official companion book to the series; explores characters and history of the series to take you deeper into Downton’s world.


Contents

DVDs to watch

  • Downton Abbey - catch up or relive your favorite episodes of the first two seasons.
  • Berkeley Square - follows three nannies in turn-of-the-century London; one of the families is headed by an Earl and his American wife.
  • Duchess of Duke Street - serves up Edwardian menus, a rags-to-riches tale, and an unforgettable character in Louisa Trotter, based on the real-life Rosa Lewis, hotelier and chef to high society London in the years before the Great War.
  • Gosford Park - screenplay by "Downton Abbey"’s Julian Fellowes - shows both above- and below-stairs schemes and intrigue during a weekend hunting party on an estate.
  • Howards End - Based on the 1910 novel by E. M. Forster, follows members of three families at three different levels of society as they meet and entangle.
  • Upstairs, Downstairs - the 1971-1975 series about the Bellamy household in London; dramatic events in the lives of servants and aristocratic family members in context of historical events 1903-1930.


  • Manor House (on VHS only) - a BBC reality-television series designed to show what life was like for the hosuehold of a 1905-1914 country house.
  • House of Eliott (on VHS only) - a BBC series from the creators of “Upstairs Downstairs” about two sisters in dire straits, who open a fashion house in London between the wars, creating costumes for the aristocracy and challenging views that women could not live independently.


Fiction

  • The American Heiress, by Daisy Godwin -the story of the daughter of wealthy Americans (her name is even Cora) who marries the eligible Duke of Wareham at the turn of the 20th century
  • The Crimson Rooms, by Katherine McMahon - love and mystery surrounding characters in 1920s London, still reeling from the effects of the Great War
  • The Dressmaker, by Kate Alcott - a seamstress finds herself on the Titanic voyage, embroiled with two men of different status, she survives the sinking but does not escape the repercussions
  • The Go-Between, by L. P. Hartley - a summer on a great estate before-the-wars, containing a tragic love story, is remembered
  • The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton - intrigue and romance on the grounds of a country house in the early 1920s
  • The Pursuit of Love, or others by Nancy Mitford
  • Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro - though this novel is concerned with staff of a great house during World War II, a little later than our setting in Downton Abbey, you can see echoes of Carson in the main character Stevens, a butler with a fierce dignity and dedication to his profession in the face of changing times
  • Upstairs, Downstairs, by John Hawkesworth - the novelization of the British television series
  • Books by Julian Fellowes who wrote the screenplay for "Downton Abbey" - these titles do not take place in the same time period as Downton, but have similar fun with the attitudes and mores of upper classes. Try Snobs or Past Imperfect.


Mysteries with this Setting


Memoirs or Portraits from Above or Below Stairs

  • The Bolter, by Frances Osborne - tells the story of Idina Sackville, who went from high society to a wild bohemian life when she ran off to Africa.


For endlessly intriguing characters within the British upper classes in the first half of the 20th century, don’t look farther than the exploits of the six Mitford sisters.


Rich Yankees

Don’t forget those rich Americans - like Cora - who married into the British aristocracy. “I’ll give you my family’s money to help your floundering estate; you give me your title to lend my nouveau-riche family some class.” Get all the juicy details about how these arrangements worked out.


Contemporary Authors

What might Lady Sybil have been reading while waiting for her chauffeur? Lady Edith while dreaming of someone finally to notice her?


The Great War and its Effects

Downton Abbey serves as a war hospital and the lives of all its inhabitants are touched in many ways by World War I. Read the following for an understanding of just how far-reaching the war’s effects were on British (and others) lives.

  • All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque - the epitome of a World War I novel, shows that life in the trenches was brutal for both sides.
  • Regeneration, by Pat Barker - based on the real experiences of Seigfried Sassoon, this novel details a military psychiatric hospital and the lives of its shell-shocked soldiers. Try also his novel Life Class.
  • Three Soldiers, by John Dos Passos - shows the toll of the war on three American soldiers.
  • Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo - this pacifist National Book Award winner from 1939 tells the story of a severely-wounded soldier’s recovery.
  • Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf - while the title character shows us the life of society between the wars, the character of Septimus Smith shows us the tragic plight of a shell-shocked veteran.

And while you’re wallowing the muck of the trenches or recovering in the arms of a nurse, don’t forget the classic WWI novels: A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway and Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine.


The House

Isn’t it charming when Lady Mary calls their house “a bit cramped”? Explore for yourself the great English country houses in the following.


Other books to find beyond JMRL:

  • Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, by the Countess of Carnarvon
  • Rose: My Life in Service, by Rose Harrison
  • The Shooting Party, by Isabel Colegate
  • What the Butler Winked At, by Eric Horne
  • The Dandy Gilver series of mysteries by Catriona McPherson
  • Countess Below Stairs, by Eva Ibbotson
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