Saturday, January 21, 2012

Can't get enough Downton Abbey? Try some of these!

Are you heading for the vintage store in search of Edwardian fashions?  Does life in a country house sound ever more appealing?  Have you considered trading in your smartphone for stationery and telegraphs?  If so, then you, my friend, might have a case of Downton Abbey fever.  Fear not -- it's a common affliction these days and, by all accounts, is harmless except for causing an insatiable desire to surround oneself by all things Edwardian.  If you're looking to satisfy some of those urges, we've got some great books and movies to keep you entertained between Sundays.

You could start with the classic Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford, which explores the implications of World War I for the British ruling class.  If you're looking for more of the sparkling social lives of the English wealthy, check out Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate, a romantic comedy that takes place between the wars.  You might also be interested in E.M. Forster's classic Howard's End or, for the perspective of the staff in the post-war days, Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the DayThe Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy is a trilogy of books that portray the life of the upper-middle-class in Victorian England. Of course, you could do worse than check out Julian Fellowes' Snobs. (Yes, that is the Julian Fellowes who created Downton Abbey...and a little Academy-Award-winning movie called Gosford Park).  The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for its portrayal of aristocracy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  If you're interested in non-fiction accounts of the help, Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey is a great choice because, as the title suggests, it inspired...I know, you caught it.  

If your Downton Abbey fever has you more interested in staying by the screen, we've got you covered there, as well.  Aside from Gosford Park, Upstairs, Downstairs and screen adaptations of Howard's End and Remains of the Day, try Berkeley Square, a BBC series about three young nannies and they wealthy families for whom they work in England at the turn of the century.  You can also imagine how you would respond to the challenges of living in an English country house with the PBS reality show Manor House.

If these titles don't quite satisfy your Downton Abbey fever, check with a librarian.  We'll prescribe more books tailored to your case.

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