Friday, February 15, 2013

Season 3 of Downton Abbey Draws To A Close

If you are like me, you're probably already wondering how you're going to make it until next January, when Season 4 of Downton Abbey will start. And there is still one more episode of Season 3 to watch! Downton Abbey has helped me this season get over the loss of my favorite show (Fringe, which is very different from Downton Abbey), and also helped me until the NHL season started again. Now, at least, I have the distraction of hockey to get over the (temporary) loss of Downton Abbey. But for those who don't have another obsession -- or just would like to read and watch things that are similar to Downton -- see below!

Films and Television

-- Gosford Park (2001)

Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, won an Academy Award in 2002 for Best Original Screenplay for Gosford Park. This story is set in 1930s England, but is also about family dynamics, the relationships among the staff, and all of the lies and secrets that are often kept in a great English estate. Many of those lies and secrets are revealed during the weekend of a shooting party, which quickly turns into an investigation of the sudden murder of Sir William McCordle. 

This was the Downton Abbey of the 1970s. It ran for 5 seasons on PBS and was immensely popular. The series follows the lives of the Bellamy family (upstairs) and the servants (downstairs), from the early 20th century through the 1930s in London. 

From the creators of Upstairs, Downstairs, this is a story of two privileged sisters who find themselves penniless in 1920s London. They attempt to turn their love of fashion into a successful business. 


-- The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy

This is three novels in one volume, and follows the upper-middle class Forsyte family from 1886 through 1920. It examines their struggles financially and socially. This was also made into a mini-series on PBS.

-- The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

While this book is set during some of the same time period as Downton, it's tone and subject matter are different. A young, privileged American woman travels to Syria with her father during the Armenian genocide during World War I. While there, she meets a young refugee, and the two fall in love. In modern times, their great-granddaughter discovers their story through letters and photographs.

-- Ashenden by Elizabeth Wilhide

A saga of the upstairs and downstairs residents of an English country house, this novel spans more than two centuries and includes the stories of the house's original architect, soldiers billeted in the house during World War I, and a young couple who restores the house in the 1950s.

-- Lady Almina and The Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon

Here is the real story for the inspiration for Lady Cora -- as told by the current owner of Highclere Castle, where much of Downton Abbey is shot. Lady Almina was a young and wealthy woman whose dowry helped save the estate. 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.

-- Below Stairs by Margaret Powell

This powerful book is told by a woman who lived a life as a servant in great English homes. Margaret Powell began work as a kitchen maid in the 1920s and later worked as a cook. Originally published in England in 1968, it became available in the US last year after the success of Downton Abbey.

-- Post by Tracy

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