Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The World of Downton Abbey- Bookish Thoughts #23

Why I wanted to read it: Because I am hopelessly addicted to the series and can not get enough about this time period, location, and these fascinating people!

Source: Public Library

The pictures are beautiful and this is an absolutely gorgeous book to behold! But even more important than stunning eye candy, this book is filled with wonderful historical stories, ephemera from the time period, and suggestions for further reading and viewing. Let's take a look inside, shall we?

  • Family Life- the author allows the reader an inside glimpse into the lives of all that call Downton Abbey home. I enjoyed reading a bit more of these characters that I feel I have come to know very personally. You also learn more about titles and the roles of each of the privileged family members. I liked reading about the kitchen life and what it may have been like below stairs.
  • Society- I found this chapter very enlightening and highly entertaining! I had to laugh at how it was perfectly acceptable to be married and have affairs, but so scandalous if you were not married and succumbed to a night of passion, like our dear Mary did!
  • Change- what a pivotal era in history. So much change occurred between 1913 and 1919 that if you really thought about it would have been mind boggling! I loved this chapter and really thought there was some great information to be gleaned.
  • Life in Service- amazing insight into what it meant to be a servant in a great house! But if you were the cook, butler, lady's maid, you really had no life! Could you imagine only having a few hours off each Sunday and that's all??? This chapter really fascinated me because of how familiar the rich became with some of their staff at the end of the day!
  • Style- I loved looking at all of the glamorous outfits and the fashion from the day. So many of the garments that the actors wear are original and delicate. Amazing attention to detail and the fabrics were scrumptious! The corsets though are one that I would not have been able to abide! I fear I would have been a rebel like Sybil and went for the trousers!
  • House & Estate- This chapter brought with it a greater appreciation for the pressure the Earl of Grantham was under in order to keep Downton Abbey a viable estate. There is quite a bit that goes into keeping up this grand palace and none of it is cheap or without many, many servants.
  • Romance- Well, isn't this what keeps many of us coming back for more? The romance, the subtle flirting, the endless parade of potential grooms??? I have to say that I'm so glad that I wasn't a rich, young, eligible woman during this time period. How much time the matriarch's of the family spent trying to make a "suitable" marriage for their daughters! How exasperating to be pushed upon old, feeble men just because they had title and wealth!
  • War- I learned so much! Honestly, I did and this chapter had me glued to the pages! Fascinating stuff that reads so much better at times than fiction!
  • Behind the Scenes- I loved getting a glimpse into all the various aspects of bringing one show to viewers like myself. It's mind boggling how much time goes into each production.
I will be ordering my own copy of this wonderful book! It's truly a work of art and there's so much to explore within the pages that one read simply doesn't do it justice! I have added several books and movies to my must-read/must-view list and I'm sure that perusing it again would only continue to further add to my collection. This is well-worth the money and will bring you hours of entertainment long after closing the final page.

List of movies/shows to watch: 
Howard's End
Gosford Park
Upstairs, Downstairs
The Jewel in the Crown
Brideshead Revisited

Books to read:
Howard's End
House of Mirth (reread)
Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn

Favorite piece of information (p. 146 from the chapter of Style)
This is about the evening gown which was worn between five and seven o'clock, it gave rise to the french phrase 'cinq a sept.' This referred to the hours when lovers were received, the only time of day when a maid wouldn't need to be there to help you undress and therefore discover your secret. 

Lady Colin Campbell's divorce hinged on the fact that her clothes had clearly been fastened by a man who didn't know what he was doing; when her lady's maid saw her for her next change, the fastenings were higgledy-piggledy. 

Could you imagine getting caught in an affair because your maid squealed to the court that your dress was fastened all wrong???!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This made laugh big time!

Bookish Thoughts #23
© 2012, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission. 


  1. I loved watching Downton Abbey and would love to have this book. It looks great!

  2. Sounds good :)
    And yes, I would so not have wanted to be a servant

  3. I'm so glad you said you'd be ordering your own copy because I was thinking I'd get this for my daughter (her birthday is in a couple of months and she's a big fan). I love your bookish thoughts :)

  4. I can tell you loved this book from your review! I stopped watching DA in the middle of season two (sniff, sniff)... now it's no longer available on 'on demand' so I will have to wait and catch up on the show another time.

    It's good fun, right? How would have thought PBS would be the station to deliver such a hit!

  5. Now I really want this book, for the same reasons as you!

    Love the story about the affair being discovered because clearly a man had messed up the fastenings. What a world!

    Great review--thanks.

  6. I need to get in on this series!! I think I am the last human being to see it/read it.... but that shouldn't surprise you! LOL!! I am ALWAYS behind on what is awesome!!!

  7. I never started this series, but so many people love it. One of these days I'm going to get the DVDs and start it!

  8. Your enthusiasm. for this book/series shines! I have yet to get to the first season and need to get myself caught up!

  9. I really need to watch this show. They have the first season for 20 dollars at Wal-Mart. I keep picking it up and putting it back... I should just bite the bullet and pick it up.

  10. I think this book is a must read for me! I have a gift card floating around here somewhere. I think this book would be nice to use it on. The part where affairs are okay but not pre-marital affairs does seem sort of strange. I guess it was a man's world back then. Thanks for reviewing this book. I was wondering if it be worth it and obviously it is!

  11. I still have not watched this show. I like the era but I just haven't made the plunge yet.

  12. I just finished Season 1 and let me tell you, I am a very sad girl now since Season 2 is not on instant view. My lunches were perfect... just sitting in the computer lab watching an episode and eating my lunch. Now? Nothing! Boo hoo!

  13. That last tidbit was hilarious! I guess I really am missing out by not watching this series. I'll have to get caught up through Netflix. I think I saw Season 1 on there.

  14. I am so getting this book! I'm sure I would love it for all the same reasons. Saw Gosford Park and it was grand indeed :)

  15. I've really got to check out this series-I feel like I'm missing out!

  16. Don't tell anyone but I've never seen the series.

  17. What fun! I've really enjoyed the series and this book is perfect for the wait time between seasons.

  18. I bought this for my daughter's birthday and CAN'T WAIT to borrow it!! All those movies are in my Netflix queue. I absolutely loved reading Howards End and put it on my list to reread for The Classics Club... maybe I'll get to it soon rather than later. Off to look up Three Weeks.

  19. I'm totally hooked on the series too!

  20. This sounds like a fun book and perfect for the WWI challenge given the time period.

  21. Stopping back to tell you I found Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn free to download for my NOOK at B&N... probably available at amazon for kindle, too.

  22. I only saw a little bit of this book at my hairdresser's place. It was fantastic, even if you weren't a fan of the show. I have my name on a long list at the library. I like the list of books and movies you gave us. I didn't see that in the book. Thanks Staci.

  23. Awesome, awesome review, I got so caught up reading your thoughts, now I want this book big time LOL

  24. I'm halfway through Season Two and am completed addicted to this program! I've seen the book at work and it's been selling quite well. I think I may have to invest in a copy during our employee discount week. I love the fashions of that era and know I'd enjoy perusing the glossy pages of this book.

    I, too, want to watch Howard's End (second or third viewing?), as well as watch Upstairs, Downstairs, which I've never seen! Oh, and Remains of the Day!!


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