We can’t stand the wait!
The war is over, but intrigue, crisis, romance and change still face our heroes… So while we try not to count off the days until the American release of season 3 of Downton Abbey, we’ve compiled a list of books and videos to help you survive the next few months.
With great big thanks to reader Julia Linthicum, for sharing her favorites, research and descriptions – Thank you!
And for even more suggestions, check out the recent Read This, Watch That: Maids and Lords post on our Teen blog.
The World of Downton Abbey
by Jessica Fellowes
The companion book to the series, written by Julian Fellowes’ niece. Followed by The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era.
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: the Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
by Countess of Carnarvon
Tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes’s Emmy Award-winning PBS show, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon.
To Marry an English Lord
by Gail MacColl and Carol Mcd Wallace
From the Gilded Age until 1914, more than 100 American heiresses invaded Britannia and swapped dollars for titles. Filled with vivid personalities, gossipy anecdotes, grand houses, and a wealth of period details—plus photographs, illustrations, quotes, and the finer points of Victorian and Edwardian etiquette.
by Frank Dawes
Through interviews with servants who worked during the time period, the author describes everything from what they wore to how they ate, wages, daily duties and interaction with each other and the people they served.
by Margaret Powell
The classic kitchen maid’s memoir that inspired the original television series Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey. At fifteen, she arrived at the servants’ entrance to begin her life as a kitchen maid. The lowest of the low, her world was one of stoves to be blacked, vegetables to be scrubbed, mistresses to be appeased, and even bootlaces to be ironed.
World War I
by Pat Barker
In 1917 Seigfried Sasson, noted poet and decorated war hero, publicly refused to continue serving as a British officer in World War I. His reason: The war was a senseless slaughter. Officially classified “mentally unsound,” he was sent to a war hospital. where psychiatrist Dr. William Rivers set about restoring Sassoon’s “sanity” and sending him back to the trenches. This is the first in a trilogy, followed by The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road.
Testament of Youth
by Vera Brittain
In 1914, just as war was declared, 20 year-old Vera Brittain was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later, her life—and that of her whole generation—had been irrevocably changed in a way that no one could have imagined in the tranquil pre-war era.
Fiction and Film
Remains of the Day
by Kazuo Ishiguro
The life of Stevens, an aging English butler, changes after three decades of service to the same man. Adapted into a Merchant Ivory film staring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.
Robert Altman film [DVD]
Drama set at the country estate of Sir William McCordle in 1932, showing the lives of upstairs guests and downstairs servants at a hunting party weekend when one of the group is murdered. Julian Fellowes won an Academy Award for the screenplay, and the special features include his commentary.
The Buccaneers: A Novel
by Edith Wharton; completed by Marion Mainwaring
Five American girls, denied access to 1870s New York society due to the newness of their wealth, go to England to marry into the cash-hungry aristocracy, in a meticulous rendering of Wharton’s unfinished masterpiece.
Need even more?
- Maisie Dobbs: A Novel, by Jacqueline Winspear – Mystery series about a downstairs girl who rises above her station.
- Whose Body? A Lord Peter Wimsey Novel by Dorothy L. Sayers – Mystery series about Lord Peter Wimsey, a WWI veteran who suffered a breakdown from shellshock/post-traumatic-stress-disorder, and now dabbles in mystery detection. Adapted for television as well.
- A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd – Mystery series about Bess Crawford, who signs up to go overseas as a nurse during the Great War.
- Death at Wentwater Court, by Carola Dunn – Daisy Dalrymple series of 1920s era mystery set in Britain.
- Guns of August and Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War 1890-1914, by Barbara Tuchman
- The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy, by David Cannadine
- The Long Week End: A Social History of Great Britain: 1918-1939, by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge