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Reading the world of Downton Abbey

Post by Lisa Schimmer
Posted January 04, 2013 in Readers' Advisory News

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Dear American Anglophiles,

Are you ready for some Downton Abbey?! I’m in the fortunate position of having already viewed season 3 and while waiting for the rest of America to catch up, my librarian alter-ego compiled a list of complementary titles to help anxious Downton Abbey fans through this long winter. By my calculations, you will have 48 free evenings over the next couple months. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting a handful of titles that explore significant events or dominant themes of that week’s episode. My goal is not to get spoiler-y, but just to explore certain ideas in depth because they’re fascinating or particularly foreign to the 21st century way of life. The titles are a mixture of fiction and nonfiction; something old, something new, but all can be borrowed from the library.  

In Episode 1, Lord Grantham realizes he’s lost all his wife’s dowry in a bad investment and Sybil and Tom/Branson  make a surprise visit from Ireland in time to witness Matthew and Mary get married.

Try these titles to go along with Episode 1:

book jacketPenmarric by Susan Howatch
The tale of a dysfunctional aristocratic family set in Cornwall. The World War One years are only a section of this book which covers 1890 through World War II.

Park Lane by Frances Osborne
As in Downton Abbey, the delineations between master and servant are blurred; not strictly out of affection but in response to the breakdown of the class system wrought by WWI (and decades of unchecked noblesse oblige).
The American heiress by Daisy Goodwin
Two Coras, two titles, and two very different marriages. Cora Cash may outrank fellow American import Lady Grantham in the overtly stratified English society -- Cora Cash is a Duchess to Lady Grantham's Countess  -- but social standing is no indicator of marital satisfaction. Their fortunes may have found them husbands, but money and position aren't guarantors of love or happiness.

 Join me next week for Episode 2!


Lisa S. is an avid reader and a less dedicated television viewer.  She ardently loves and admires everything British, except for tea.  When she’s not cataloging for NoveList, she’s most likely reading something she came across while… cataloging for NoveList.