The Library is now open Monday - Friday 9:00 am - 7:00 pm and Saturday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm. Curbside is still available.
The Library is now open the following hours Monday-Friday 9:00 am - 7:00 pm and Saturday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm. Curbside is still available.
 

 

Period Dramas

  • Downton Abbey

    Hello, fellow Downton Abbey fans! If you’re anything like me, you’re awaiting the Downton Abbey movie with a mixture of hope and trepedation. I’m excited to return to my favorite period drama and become reaquainted with beloved characters, both above and below stairs.

    At the same time, I’m worried. They’d wrapped up the final season so happily for everyone, hadn’t they? A sucker for a happy ending, I was pleased with where characters ended up in the final season, and I’m just not sure I can take it if Anna and Bates are subjected to new trauma. JUST LET THOSE POOR PEOPLE LIVE IN PEACE, Julian Fellowes!

    Nevertheless, I’ll be there on opening night.

    In the meantime, here are a few library materials to get you back into that Downton frame of mind. 

    9.13 Lady AlminaLADY ALMINA AND THE REAL DOWNTON ABBEY: THE LOST LEGACY OF HIGHCLERE CASTLE
    By Fiona, Countess of Carnarvon
    (2011)

    Downton Abbey, is, alas, a fictional place, but the entirety of the series was filmed at Highclere Castle, a country house in Hampshire England with history going back to the 9th century (though the current building was build primarily in the 1600s and 1700s). This book, written by the current Countess of Carnarvon who lives in the castle today, tells the story of one of Highclere’s most famous residents, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon.

     

    9.13 Below StairsBELOW STAIRS: THE CLASSIC KITCHEN MAID’S MEMOIR THAT INSPIRED UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS AND DOWNTON ABBEY
    By Margaret Powell
    (2012)

    If you were always more interested in the exploits of Daisy and Mrs. Patmore than in the goings-on of the Crawleys, this is the book for you. Margaret Powell, who lived from 1908 to 1984, became a bestselling writer with this memoir about her experiences as a maid and later a cook in aristocratic houses in the 1920s and 1930s. As the title suggests, her book was eventually a source of inspiration for Downton Abbey.

     

    9.13 Downton Abbey MusicDOWNTON ABBEY: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION: FEATURING THE MUSICAL HIGHLIGHTS OF ALL SIX SEASONS
    By John Lunn
    (2016)

    It doesn’t take much to conjure up the notes of Downton Abbey’s opening theme in my mind. This CD collection brings together favorite musical pieces from throughout the show’s run. And if you’re a pianist, why not check out the sheet music too?

     

    9.13 Edwardian CookingEDWARDIAN COOKING: 80 RECIPES INSPIRED BY DOWNTON ABBEY’S ELEGANT MEALS
    By Larry Edwards
    (2012)

    If you’re feeling especially motivated, you can try your hand at one of the delicious recipes in this historically-inspired cookbook. It blessedly stays away from away from aspics (a.k.a meat jello) and the like, instead favoring classics like pork tenderloin with sweetened cinnamon apples and any number of tea sandwiches and biscuits. 

     

    9.13 Downton Abbey A CelebrationDOWNTON ABBEY: A CELEBRATION
    By Jessica Fellowes
    (2015)

    Written by Jessica Fellowes, niece of show creator Julian Fellowes, this book goes behind the scenes on the Downton set, with gorgeous location shots of Highclere Castle and stills from all six seasons of the classic period drama. It's a perfect refresher course if you’re feeling a little foggy on the timeline of the series. 

     
  • Downton Abbey

    December is a magical time of year. There’s a chill in the air, a pine tree in the living room, and an endless number of holiday treats to nibble on. But you know what’s been missing the last few years? A DOWNTON ABBEY Christmas special on PBS.

    Fortunately, this year gave us the DOWNTON ABBEY movie, which just came out on DVD. But if, like me, you’ve already seen it and are still wishing for the intrigue, the romance, the complicated class dynamics, and the gorgeous evening gowns that Downton once added to your life, these historical fiction reads should do the trick.

    12.20 The Summer Before the WarTHE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR
    By Helen Simonson
    (2017)

    Historical fiction is a go-to genre for me, and this novel is one of my absolute favorites of the past few years. It features the tiny coastal town of Rye England in the summer of 1914, where a single, well-educated Beatrice Nash moves following the death of her father. There she develops a close friendship with society matron Agatha Kent and her two adult nephews, Hugh and Daniel. It’s funny, poignant, as clever as the Dowager Countess herself, and delightfully written.

     

    12.20 The DressmakerTHE DRESSMAKER
    By Kate Alcott
    (2013)

    Aspiring seamstress Tess gets the opportunity of a lifetime when she’s hired as a lady’s maid by celebrated designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon. With Lady Gordon, she sets off across the Atlantic in the famously doomed Titanic (where James and Patrick Crawley died, setting off the events of the Downton Abbey series). The Dressmakers offers a fascinating look into class relations, the well-known story of the Titanic’s sinking, and the largely forgotten social and political uproar that followed.

     

    12.20 BelgraviaBELGRAVIA
    By Julian Fellowes
    (2016)

    Belgravia takes place many years before Downton – as it’s set first in 1815 and then in the 1840s – but it’s chock full of the love triangles, intrigue, and sharp, witty dialogue you’d expect from Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey.  Fellowes has a masterful understanding of the time setting, making this one of the most believable (and delightfully gossipy) pieces of historical fiction I’ve ever read. Even better, the audiobook narration by Juliet Stevenson is absolutely excellent.

     

    12.20 AtonementATONEMENT
    By Ian McEwan
    (2003)

    Aristocratic Cecilila Tallis and working class Robbie Turner are on the brink of romance when a misunderstanding and lie by Cecilia’s sister Briony tears everything apart. Set upon the brink of World War II, this novel takes place a generation after Downton Abbey, but they share a story of star-crossed lovers, class snobbery, high drama and the leveling effects of war.

     

    12.20 The Hired GirlTHE HIRED GIRL
    By Laura Amy Schlitz
    (2015)

    If you always preferred the downstairs half of Downton’s plots, I recommend this young adult novel. It features a naïve but plucky main character, Joan, who runs away from her abusive home in the country to Baltimore, where she gets work as a cook and cleaning girl to a wealthy Jewish family. Joan’s character has echoes of Anne Shirley, Cassandra Mortmain, and Downton’s own Daisy. 

     

    Given all the great historical fiction novels out there, this list was hard to narrow down! What novels would you recommend for Downton Abbey fans? Still can't get enough of the Downton-esque?  Try these true stories and period dramas.