Books for Fans of Downton Abbey
April 20, 2013
Welcome to the winter of our discontent. Not only does spring refuse to show its pretty face, but we’re facing several more months without new Downton Abbey episodes! Season three’s shocking ending has left many of us at the Buckner Branch reeling, and as we while the months away waiting for Julian Fellowes and co. to complete season four, we find ourselves grasping for any hint of Downton. I assume many of you are in the same boat. Here are some books that might help us through this trying time.
(Warning: mild spoilers for all three seasons of Downton Abbey abound! Get caught up with the DVDs before reading!)
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Flavia de Luce is eleven and lives in a crumbling manor house in 1950 Britain. Her mother is dead, her father is emotionally absent, her two older sisters are cruel, and there’s a corpse in the garden. Flavia is like a young Lady Sybil: flighty, impertinent, and full of fun. They would have been great friends!
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Stevens has been the perfect butler of Darlington Hall, proud to serve a great house and a great gentleman. But as he looks back on his years of service, he faces doubts and guilt that he has long buried. One wonders how Carson would remember his time at Downton upon his retirement.
American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, the Birth of the "It" girl, and the Crime of the Century by Paula Uruburu
For the first decade of the twentieth century, Evelyn Nesbit was the most famous woman in America—a fact that was solidified when she was caught up in the "Crime of the Century." What’s a beautiful, popular girl to do when her millionaire husband murders her architect lover? American Eve tells the true story of a scandal that rocked the world, and gives us a hint of what Lady Mary could have suffered if her encounter with Mr. Pamuk had been revealed.
Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: the Titanic’s First Class Passengers and Their World by Hugh Brewster
The sinking of the Titanic was the first toll of the Edwardian era’s death knell, in no small part because of the many wealthy lives that were lost. Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage tells the stories of the rich and famous who went down with the ship, many of whom would have been friends of Lord and Lady Grantham.
The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons
Elise Landau is the daughter of wealthy Jewish artists in Vienna, but World War II is knocking on the door and the family is no longer safe. Elise flees to England, giving up her life of luxury and privilege to become a parlour maid at a manor house. There she falls in love with the young heir of Tyneford—and he falls in love with her. Lady Violet would be shocked!
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Henry is an ambulance driver on the Italian front of World War I; Catherine is the war nurse he loves. Hemingway’s story of heroism, cynicism, passion, and the horrors of war was based on his own experiences, but it also offers some insight into the hard times that Matthew and Thomas faced on the front.
Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir that Inspired “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “Downton Abbey” by Margaret Powell
Powell was a young woman in the 1920s when she entered service in the kitchen of a manor house, and her happy beachside childhood had hardly prepared her for what was to come! Scrubbing pots and peeling vegetables from before dawn til after dark is hard enough work; but figuring out and remembering the idiosyncrasies of the family is another matter entirely. No wonder poor little Daisy always seems so tired!
I know there are more, so now I'll ask you for help! What books do you recommend for someone going through Downton withdrawals? Leave a comment below to tell us; after all, we're all in this together!