A Little Something for your Downton Abbey Fever…

Can’t get enough of Julian Fellowes runaway hit? We have just what you need. There are a couple of non-fiction titles, some offerings of the fiction of Julian Fellowes, and even a couple of classic titles and DVDs you may not have thought about. Here is a small offering.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclerc Castle- The Countess of Canarvon

Almina was,officially, the child of Marie and Fred Wombwell. In truth, she was the much-loved child of Marie and her lover, the fabulously wealthy banker, Alfred de Rothschild. Rothschild wanted to secure a social position: a difficult effort for a Jewish man in 19th century society, so he endows Almina with his fortune. Enter Canarvon, a man who defines the term “landed gentry”.  He owns 4 estates, including the sprawling monster known as Highclerc (recognizable to all you DA fans as Grantham), but the Lord of the Manor has little cash, and Highclerc is crumbling under the weight of it’s upkeep.  Almina pays off Canarvon’s debts and restores Highclerc to full splendor, an expense that would make the wealthiest hedge-fund recipient gasp: Rothschild thought nothing of giving Almina the equivalent of half a million dollars to open the sprawling mansion for a weekend with his newfound friend, the Prince of Wales. In the meantime, Marie had been cut off from Almina in London, and was only allowed to visit Highclerc in secret.

Snobs-Julian Fellowes

Julian Fellowes brings us an insider’s look at a contemporary England that is still not as classless as is popularly supposed. Edith Lavery, an English blonde with large eyes and nice manners, is the daughter of a moderately successful accountant and his social-climbing wife. While visiting his parents’ stately home as a paying guest, Edith meets Charles, Earl of Broughton, and heir to the Marquess of Uckfield, who runs the family estates in East Sussex and Norfolk. To the gossip columns he is one of the most eligible young aristocrats around. When he proposes. Edith accepts. But is she really in love with Charles? Or with his title, his position, and all that goes with it? One inescapable part of life at Broughton Hall is Charles’s mother, the shrewd Lady Uckfield, known to her friends as “Googie” and described by the narrator—an actor who moves comfortably among the upper classes while chronicling their foibles—“as the most socially expert individual I have ever known at all well. She combined a watchmaker’s eye for detail with a madam’s knowledge of the world.” Lady Uckfield is convinced that Edith is more interested in becoming a countess than in being a good wife to her son. And when a television company, complete with a gorgeous leading man, descends on Broughton Hall to film a period drama, “Googie’s” worst fears seem fully justified. In this wickedly astute portrait of the intersecting worlds of aristocrats and actors, Julian Fellowes establishes himself as an irresistible storyteller and a deliciously witty chronicler of modern manners.

The House of Mirth- Edith Wharton

Ecclesiastes 7:4: The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

A story of social class from this side of the pond. Lily Bart is torn by her desires for wealth and her needs for a relationship built on trust and love. Her social standing within New York’s upper crust begin to decline when Lily combines poor personal decisions with a lack of survival skills. Wharton’s first novel was published to great acclaim in 1905, and depicts a the Gilded Age as something less than golden. Though Wharton could never bring herself to either approve of or condemn high society in New York, the character of Lily Bart is one of heroic proportions; even to the point of admitting her own guilt in her downfall.

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