Millions of American viewers were enthralled by the world of Downton Abbey, the mesmerizing TV drama of the aristocratic Crawley family–and their servants–on the verge of dramatic change. On the eve of Season 2 of the TV presentation, this gorgeous book–illustrated with sketches and research from the production team, as well as on-set photographs from both seasons–takes us even deeper into that world, with fresh insights into the story and characters as well as the social history.
To watch Downton Abbey is to watch a way of life slowly die with an epic story and it kind of reminds me of Gone with the Wind. The best part of the TV show is the personal look into the servants’ and nobilities’ lives from the early 1900s and how they interacted with each other. You really feel transported to the time period and all the characters are interesting and likable yet flawed. Like any loyal fan would, I bought this book because it had the words “Downton Abbey” on it. I figured I would love it. I did and I got more than I expected.
This was more than a behind-the-scenes look at the actors and the locations. Jessica Fellowes takes history and facts from a time period that is kind of overlooked and just makes that time period come alive. You get to go on a journey to see how essentially Jane Austen’s time became the world we live in now. She made me care about where the term “weekend” came from and why the Dowager Countess was so baffled by it.
Here are a few of the fascinating morsels that I learned:
- The whole family will come down for breakfast except the lady because married women get breakfast in bed daily. (Breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day anyone?! Now I feel ripped off because it was just something they got EVERY DAY. I’m seriously doubting that our modern world is “better.”)
- You get to see the beginning of things that have survived to modern times like cornflakes from America.
- Country Houses were being torn down left and right after WWI until The Victoria and Albert Museum had an exhibition called “The Destruction of the English Country House” that saved them. (That sounds like the most boring exhibit ever but now I’m depressed that I missed it.)
- Cora’s back story is from a trend during that time of American women coming to England and marrying English lords. Cora was based on woman in real life named Lady Curzon from the book “To Marry and English Lord.” (Okay, I have to admit that I did not notice Cora was American until I read this book.)
I adored reading all the history and the real life inspirations for the show. The pictures are beautiful. The actors give insight into their characters. You get to read about everything from clothing, family, and society to war and change. It’s a look into an era that is really the beginning of our modern world and the death of a way of life that had been around for a very long time. This book was the perfect companion to my favorite show.
Content Rating: None.