The World of Downton Abbey, by Jessica Fellowes
Reviewed by Lori Twichell, Radiant Lit
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: December 6, 2011
If you spend any time anywhere near the internet or reading about entertainment news, then it’s likely that you’ve heard of Downton Abbey. A full blown phenomenon, Downton Abbey is a production of Masterpiece (what used to be Masterpiece Theater) on PBS and is one of the highest rated shows that they’ve had in their history. Recently, it also won several major awards which helped to bring it into the public spotlight.
That said, I am a tried and true Downton Abbey fangirl. I love Anna and Bates and I cheer for Matthew and Mary. I have been known to guffaw out loud (doesn’t that sound better than snorting soda out through my nose?) at Countess Grantham and her mannerisms and I have yelled at Thomas and O’Brien. So yes, I am a fan. When I saw that this book was available, I knew that I needed to review it.
As much as I love Downton, I adore this book in equal measure. Full of huge gorgeous photographs of the costumes, the cast and the sets, this book utterly and completely delighted me. In fact I devoured it almost completely in one night. When I first sat down with it, I thought I would only read a few paragraphs. Much like the series itself, I soon found myself completely lost in the world created by Julian Fellowes and I was enamored with every single detail.
Reading this book gave me backstory and information on each character that I hadn’t had previously. Information such as Cora’s family background and how they got to the point where Cora married Lord Grantham are detailed. I also learned what daily life would have really been like for the different members of the staff. There was a great deal more to above and below stairs than I had considered previously and I was fascinated by what the tasks would have been like for each of the characters.
The writer in me was enraptured by some of the reasons behind the creative choices made on the show. The Titanic, for example, was a grounding point for the audience. Everyone has a fascination with that moment in time and is aware of the impact that it had on the world. By opening Downton with that event, they were able to give the audience a solid point in time that would give them an immediate sympathy with the characters. Also, that period in time was the beginning of so many things we recognize today. By giving the characters cars and phones and electricity, even in their infant states, they were able to demonstrate to the audience that it wasn’t all that long ago while at the same time showing how different life was then.
This book was an amazing companion to the series. Offering rich beauty in photographs, detail in costuming and information behind the scenes that only added more to my enjoyment of Downton Abbey. For fans of the show, this book is a must read. For die-hard fans like myself, this is a must own. Not only that, you’ll want to display it in all of its gorgeous glory in your home.
Rated G: Acceptable for all ages.
Book provided by the publisher. Thank you!