Friday, October 4, 2013

Book Club Friday: Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey

So happy to be back for another Book Club Friday!  Only 2 weeks after the last one - hopefully my break from reading is over!

This week I'm sharing Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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 Downton Abbey, 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.

If you like Downton Abbey then this is a must read (in my opinion).  I am (personally) obsessed with the show and the second I saw this book it got added to my "To Read" list.  It's an interesting tale about the history of Highclere Castle (where Downton is filmed) and specifically the actual Countess who was in charge during the time frame Downton takes place in.

Given the time period, there is also a large portion that talks about WWI and what life was like in Britain during that time.  Similar to the show, Highclere did become a hospital and took care of wounded soldiers. I can't believe it has almost been 100 years since WWI.

I was also surprised by the amount of influence the family (and extended family) had.  They knew almost everyone of importance in Britain at the time and used that influence to get things accomplished (such as opening up the hospital).  I was also surprised to learn that the Earl of Carnarvon was the one (along with a partner) who discovered King Tut!  Who knew?

If you are a fan of Downton Abbey or history, I would definitely recommend checking this out!


  1. Even though I've never watched an episode of Downton Abbey I've been curious about this book. It seems like one I'd enjoy even with the background, and I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it.

  2. I love Downton Abbey! I'm currently rewatching the show in preparation for the upcoming season. :) I'll definitely have to check out this book. Thanks for the recommendation!