Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey

Are you enjoying the Downton Abbey series? The last episode of the second season will end on Sunday February 19. This list may minimize the withdrawal symptoms!

Books & Movies to Enjoy


The American Heiress: a novel

by Daisy Goodwin.

“Be careful what you wish for. Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage. Witty, moving, and brilliantly entertaining, Cora’s story marks the debut of a glorious storyteller who brings a fresh new spirit to the world of Edith Wharton and Henry James. “For daughters of the new American billionaires of the 19th century, it was the ultimate deal: marriage to a cash-strapped British Aristocrat in return for a title and social status. But money didn’t always buy them happiness.”

Call # FICTION Goodwin


by Sebastian Faulks

Set before and during the Great War, Birdsong captures the drama of that era on both a national and a personal scale. It is the story of Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman who journeys to France on business in 1910 and becomes so entangled in a passionate clandestine love affair that he never returns home. Rootless and heartbroken when war breaks out in 1914, he joins the army and is given command of a brigade of miners, whose macabre assignment is to tunnel beneath German lines and set off bombs under the enemy trenches – thereby creating a pitch-dark subterranean battlefield even more ghastly than the air and trench warfare above them. As have many lost young men, Stephen finds a place and an intense camaraderie in this tortuous world, and through his eyes Faulks reveals not only the unspeakable carnage but the unexpected love and loyalty that took place in the fields of France a mere two generations ago.

Call # FICTION Faulks

A Bitter Truth

by Charles Todd.

“Truth can be a bitter pill to swallow. In Todd’s third Bess Crawford mystery (after An Impartial Witness), Bess finds herself back in London, on leave from her nursing duties on the World War I battlefields of France. Upon arriving at her London lodging, she finds a battered woman named Lydia in her doorway taking shelter from the cold. Bess befriends Lydia, who begs to be accompanied back to her home in Sussex. During a memorial for Lydia’s brother-in-law, Bess becomes embroiled in the family’s disagreements and secrets. When one of the houseguests, a wounded soldier, is found murdered, the police cast their suspicion on everyone—including Bess herself. She must search from Sussex all the way to war-torn France to discover the bitter truth about a soldier’s death not on the battlefield but on the home front.”

Call # MYSTERY Todd

Loving-Living-Party Going

by Henry Green

“Loving describes life above and below stairs in an Irish country house during the Second World War. In the absence of their employers the Tennants, the servants enact their own battles and conflict amid rumours about the war in Europe; invading one another’s provinces of authority to create an anarchic environment of self-seeking behaviour, pilfering, gossip and love.”—Publisher.

Call # FICTION Green

Upstairs, Downstairs

by John Hawkesworth

A formal introduction to the Bellamys of 165 Eaton Place explores the private lives of the beautiful Lady Marjorie, her politician husband Richard, and their devoted staff of servants during the Edwardian era.

Call # FICTION Hawkesworth


Below Stairs: the Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir that Inspired “Upstairs, downstairs” and “Downton Abbey”

by Margaret Powell

Library Journal Review:

Born in 1907, Powell began working at age 13, soon becoming a kitchen maid and eventually cook in a grand old home. Her 1968 memoir, now being reissued (Powell died in 1984), brought her fame and led to the Masterpiece classic Upstairs, Downstairs.

Great fun but also the personal details of history that are often hidden. With a reading group guide.

Publisher summary:

Brilliantly evoking the long-vanished world of masters and servants portrayed in Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, Margaret Powell’s classic memoir of her time in service, Below Stairs, is the remarkable true story of an indomitable woman who, though she served in the great houses of England, never stopped aiming high. Powell first arrived at the servants’ entrance of one of those great houses in the 1920s.  As a kitchen maid – the lowest of the low – she entered an entirely new world; one of stoves to be blacked, vegetables to be scrubbed, mistresses to be appeased, and bootlaces to be ironed. Work started at 5.30am and went on until after dark. It was a far cry from her childhood on the beaches of Hove, where money and food were scarce, but warmth and laughter never were. Yet from the gentleman with a penchant for stroking the housemaids’ curlers, to raucous tea-dances with errand boys, to the heartbreaking story of Agnes the pregnant under-parlormaid, fired for being seduced by her mistress’s nephew, Margaret’s tales of her time in service are told with wit, warmth, and a sharp eye for the prejudices of her situation. Margaret Powell’s true story of a life spent in service is a fascinating “downstairs” portrait of the glittering, long-gone worlds behind the closed doors of Downton Abbey and 165 Eaton Place. 

Look for it in NEW Nonfiction Call # 926.415 Powell

Inheritance : the Story of Knole and the Sackvilles

by Robert Sackville-West

Since its purchase in 1604 by Thomas Sackville, first Earl of Dorset, the house at Knole, Kent, has been inhabited by thirteen generations of the aristocratic Sackville family. Now owned by the National Trust, Knole is today visited by thousands annually. Here, drawing on a wealth of unpublished letters, archives, and images, the current incumbent of the seat, Robert Sackville-West, paints a vivid and intimate portrait of the vast, labyrinthine house and the relationships his colorful ancestors formed within it. It’s a drama in which the house itself is a principal character, its fortunes often mirroring those of the family. Every detail holds a story: the portraits, and all the items the subjects of those portraits left behind, point to pivotal moments in history; all the rooms, and the objects that fill them, are freighted with an emotional significance handed down from generation to generation.

Knole is one of the largest houses in England, a so-called calendar house purported to have 365 rooms, 52 staircases, and seven courtyards. Its labyrinthine twists and turns seem to mimic its complex transfer, by male primogeniture, through 13 generations (so far) of the well-connected Sackville family, beginning with Knole’s purchase in 1604 by Thomas Sackville and ending with its inheritance by author Sackville-West, seventh Baron Sackville. Falling somewhere between an unfussy family history and a more serious work of scholarship, this book marries the tale of Knole to a personal and absorbing story of the author’s ancestors, who included such intriguing figures as Vita Sackville-West, inspiration for her friend Virginia Woolf’s Orlando.

Call # 929.72 Sackville

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle

By Countess of Carnarvon

Publisher summary:

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey 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. Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war.

Much like her Masterpiece Classic counterpart Lady Cora Crawley, Lady Almina was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Alfred de Rothschild, who married his daughter off at a young age, her dowry serving as the crucial link in the effort to preserve the Earl of Carnarvon’s ancestral home.  Throwing open the doors of Highclere Castle to tend to the wounded of World War I, Lady Almina distinguished herself as a brave and remarkable woman.

This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.

Call # 942.271 CAR

The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just before the Storm

by Juliet Nicolson.

Library Journal Review:

The granddaughter of writer Vita Sackville-West, Nicolson offers an engaging story covering just four summer months in 1911. English society was living large; there seemed no end to its extravagances. Meanwhile—and as always—the lower classes struggled, and the war loomed. Nicolson concentrates on specific persons representing different social strata and adds a great deal of humor to describe some of the period’s eccentricities. Among the figures she includes are Winston Churchill (then home secretary), the scandalous Lady Diana Manners, and Queen Mary. Nicolson had access to many primary sources, some never before seen by the public. In a satisfying epilog, she tracks the fates of the personalities on whom she focuses. A best seller in Britain (and deservedly so), this quick, enjoyable read shows the inevitability of the decline of the aristocracy by blending serious history, quirky details, and an all-encompassing portrait of English society.

Call # 942.083 NIC

Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor

by Rosina Harrison

In 1928, Rosina Harrison arrived at the illustrious household of the Astor family to take up her new position as personal maid to the infamously temperamental Lady Nancy Astor, who sat in Parliament, entertained royalty, and traveled the world. “She’s not a lady as you would understand a lady” was the butler’s ominous warning. But what no one expected was that the iron-willed Lady Astor was about to meet her match in the no-nonsense, whip-smart girl from the country.

For 35 years, from the parties thrown for royalty and trips across the globe, to the air raids during WWII, Rose was by Lady Astor’s side and behind the scenes, keeping everything running smoothly. In charge of everything from the clothes and furs to the baggage to the priceless diamond “sparklers,” Rose was closer to Lady Astor than anyone else. In her decades of service she received one £5 raise, but she traveled the world in style and retired with a lifetime’s worth of stories. Like Gosford Park and Downton Abbey, ROSE is a captivating insight into the great wealth ‘upstairs’ and the endless work ‘downstairs’, but it is also the story of an unlikely decades-long friendship that grew between Her Ladyship and her spirited Yorkshire maid.

Call # 942.082 HAR

Wait for Me! –Memoirs

by Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire

Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire, is the youngest of the famously witty brood that includes the writers Jessica and Nancy, who wrote when Deborah was born, “How disgusting of the poor darling to go and be a girl.” Deborah’s effervescent memoir chronicles her remarkable life, from an eccentric but happy childhood in the Oxfordshire countryside, to tea with Adolf Hitler and her controversially political sister Unity in 1937, to her marriage to the second son of the Duke of Devonshire. Her life would change utterly with his unexpected inheritance of the title and vast estates after the wartime death of his brother, who had married Kick Kennedy, the beloved sister of John F. Kennedy. Her friendship with that family would last through triumph and tragedy. This is a unique portrait of an age, and an unprecedented look at life inside one of the great aristocratic families of England.

Call # 920.72 Devonshire

The World of Upstairs, Downstairs

by Mollie Hardwick.

From the front fly-leaf: “The television series ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’—a brilliant portrait of British life during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—continues to enchant audiences all over the world. With this book author Mollie Hardwick gives us a closer, more detailed view of that fascinating period. She weaves the story of the Bellamy household into the historical and cultural background of England from the turn of the century to the Great Depression. This book chronicles this time—of contrast, of social upheaval, of progress – – in an immensely readable text that is richly illustrated with hundreds of old photographs, posters, drawings, and television stills.

Call # 791.457 HAR


Downton Abbey

Set in an Edwardian country house in 1912, Downton Abbey portrays the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them. In the drawing rooms, library, and beautiful bedrooms, with their tall windows looking across the park, lives the family, but below stairs are other residents, the servants, as fiercely possessive of their ranks as anyone above.

Call # DVD Downton

Manor House

Twenty-one people from the 21st century are brought together in an Edwardian country house. Six of them are the Upstairs family and the 15 others are servants. For three months these people have only the rulebook and each other….

Call # DVD 306.0942 MAN

Upstairs, Downstairs 40th Anniversary edition

The 40th Anniversary edition of the beloved British TV series includes not only the complete episodes but this release has improved video and audio quality. In addition a 1996 documentary, Upstairs, Downstairs Remembered as well as The Making of Upstairs, Downstairs (with behind-the-scenes info!) add to its appeal.

Call # DVD Upstairs Series 1 through V

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