Monday, 18 February 2013

The Allure of Downton Abbey

What is it about Downton Abbey that we love so much?  We can't relate to the lifestyle, yet we are fascinated by it.  On Monday mornings people from all walks of life are talking about the show and we wonder what we are going to do when this season ends and we have to wait months for a new episode.  Have no fear.  To get you through Downton Abbey withdrawal, I recommend the following, taken in liberal doses.

Berkeley Square - this British miniseries tells the fictional story of a group of English governesses at the turn of the century.   Just the right combination of soap opera and quality storyline made this an excellent series.  Of course, the original Upstairs Downstairs and the new version are perennial favourites, but don't forget House of Eliott or The Edwardians.  Flambards is another great British series that focuses on the beginning of aviation in Britain and is another sweeping family drama.  If another series is too much time commitment, try the feature length movie Gosford Park.

For those who just want the facts try reading Margaret Powell's Below Stairs, the book that is said to have inspired Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey.  Similarly, Life Below Stairs by Alison Maloney is a handy reference to Edwardian times.  The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook is a fun way to celebrate the show.

Some great novels set during this era include A Room with a View by E.M. Forster and Buccaneers by Edith Wharton, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, and American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin.

Whether it be the house, the clothes, the drama or the lifestyle, whatever your reason for loving the show you can be sure that next season will be a winner too.

Frances Newman, Dowager Countess Regional Librarian

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