The following blog post is written by Kristen Zory King.
There’s no ignoring it – Rochester (and many other cities around the world) has gone slightly mad with Downton fever. From the beautiful costumes to the titillating drama, we’re utterly, irrevocably consumed. And it’s no wonder – in time when every other television program is a competition, violent cop show, or a reality romp showing west coast nouveau-riche behaving badly, Downton is a welcome change. (Don’t get me wrong – I do love to veg-out in my pajamas to watch a nicely dressed woman throw champagne in another nicely dressed woman’s face, but I don’t think it’s wrong to occasionally want more out of my programming). Last spring, I hosted a Downton Abbey discussion series at Writers & Books and it was so popular, I brought it back for season four. Every other Monday, a large group of fans come to Writers & Books for tea, scones, and delicious debate. I am consistently awed and amazed at the discussions we have at these meetings – the attachments people have for these characters is real. Between the well drawn characters and their relationships, the dialogue that moves the scenes, and the wonderful emotion from a fantastic cast, Downton has us itching for more after each episode. Downton Abbey is a cross-generational hit that delights like a good novel.
For those of you looking for something to tide you over from week to week (or even, dare I say it, when the season is over), check out these books:
- Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke – “Beautiful, melancholy and richly detailed, Rutherford Park elegantly depicts the lives within an English country house on the cusp of a new age. Elizabeth Cooke evokes classic authors like Vita Sackville West and Frances Hodgson Burnett.”
- Park Lane by Frances Osborne – “Fascinating. . . beautifully written. . . . Frances Osborne brings the decadence of Britain’s dying aristocracy vividly to life in this story of scandal and heartbreak.”
- The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin – “A propulsive story of love, manners, culture clash, and store-bought class from a time long past that proves altogether fresh.”
- The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn – “An enchanting read of Rachel Hore/Downton Abbey ilk, big storytelling stuff of social and political change spanning the First World War and beyond. It’s a glorious read, highly recommended.”
- The House at Riverton by Kate Morton – “The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars…it is the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all and kept a secret for decades.”