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Reading the World of Downton Abbey: Episode 5

Post by Lisa Schimmer
Posted February 03, 2013 in Readers' Advisory News

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SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading now if you want to avoid spoilers.


My fellow Downton fans,

Have you recovered from your shock at the turn of events in episode 4?

Now in episode 5, sadness and grief abound as the Downton clan struggles to accept what cannot be changed. Cora can’t forgive her husband for his elitist approach to medical advice. The Granthams can’t move forward through their grief, and the Dowager Countess attempts to help them reconcile. Matthew tries to maneuver around Lord Grantham’s resistance to change at Downton. The Bates saga ends as His Lordship’s valet is exonerated and gets sprung from the hoosegow.

In keeping with the themes of change and acceptance, these are my recommendations for reading along with episode 5 of Downton Abbey:

The tortoise and the hare by Elizabeth Jenkins
Life doesn’t always work out the way we plan. Sometimes perfect-on-paper marriages are broken up by third parties. Sometimes the intervening party is another woman (like Lord Grantham and the maid, last season). Sometimes the interloper is sheer grief at the loss of a child, an event that is hard to accept and overcome in any circumstance.

Falling angels by Tracy Chevalier
Remember in season 1 when Sybil was a suffragist? And Branson rescued her from that political rally-turned-riot? Well, this book offers none of the sweetness of that scenario, although it does feature suffragettes and political violence. Instead, we’re given a variety of voices detailing social and domestic upheaval when the women in their lives (mothers, wives, friends) started wanting more than just a home and children.

Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
All this grief and recrimination is exhausting. Let’s get back to a simpler time with this title. Lady Ada is reminiscent of a young Lady Sybil: privileged yet independent and forward-thinking. She too is trying to figure out her path in life and is attached to an unsuitable suitor, but with a bit more drama thrown in by the supporting cast.

More next week. In the meantime, come on over to our facebook page to discuss further.


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.