I must admit, as a reader, I find the television show “Downton Abbey” quite frustrating at times. I am a reader first and foremost, which means I’m used to setting my own tempo on how fast I read a story; and I can’t do that with a fixed TV series’ schedule. Like other anxious fans, I have to patiently wait for each episode while restraining myself from checking various spoilers.
If you’re as impatient as I am, you might enjoy my suggestions to get a similar “fix” between episodes, which feature my favorite Downton Abbey elements.
If you enjoy the “upstairs, downstairs” class portrayals in, I would suggest the 1968 memoir Below Stairs
by Margaret Powell, which recounts 10 years of her service in a noble house. The story starts in the 1920s and although the house is not quite as grand as the Downton Abbey, the “downstairs” politics factor just as much. Also falling under this category is the Booker-winning novel The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
. It’s a subtle, beautiful and thoughtful portrait of dignity, love, and the class divide.
The history, politics, culture, and fashion of this period are long gone, but our fascination with this program proves our fascination and perhaps longing for the elegance of that time is still alive. To immerse yourself in Edwardian life, check out Habits of the House by Fay Weldon
, one of the writers for the BBC series “Upstairs, Downstairs.”
Ambiguous entanglements, English nobility, and a big, gothic house? Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
has it all. British officer, Charles Ryde, recounts his time spent with the aristocratic, religiously superficial, and strangely charismatic Flyte family.
If it’s only Downton Abbey
that can charm you, check out Lady Almina and the Story of the Real DowntonAbbey
. This book examines Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration for program and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon and the basis for the fictional character Lady Cora Crawley.
You will probably also enjoy The Forsyte Saga
by the Nobel prize-winning John Galsworthy
. This witty and satirical story depicts the trials and tribulations of a noble family who cannot fathom the idea of adapting to the modern world.
If you’re keen to read more classics from this period, I could not say enough great things about E.M. Forster
, Howard’s End
or A Room with a View
. You are sure to love the way Forster tackles the rigidity of class and property that made human connection so difficult during this era, particularly for women.
For those who fancy a love story set during World War I, you simply MUST read Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
. This is a powerful description of the human cost of trench and tunnel warfare in the First World War, mixed with a heart breaking love story.
I could go on and on with these suggestions, but I’ll leave you to discover more titles by searching our tag cloud. Follow these steps:
1. Click on any book titles listed above
2. Click on the tag that says “For Downton Abbey Fans” (Located on the left hand-side of the book profile page under “Tag this book”)
3. Once you are viewing the list, you can then easily add all of these titles to your bookshelf, wish list, or maybe even your 2013 reading list.
… and don’t forget to add the “For Downton Abbey Fans” tag to any of the books that you have read and that have satisfied your hunger for that irresistible Edwardian charm.