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Books to get you through 'til Sunday

Historian Simon Schama calls it another example of British television’s “cultural necrophilia”. Well then, bring out your dead…the Downton Abbey miniseries now airing Sunday nights on PBS has invigorated public television, revved up sales of cloche hats and maxi skirts, and has publishers scrambling to appeal to readers who devour period dramas. And what a drama it is...fading aristocracy…the anguish of World War I…mercenary marriage-making… malevolent ladies maids….damaging secrets…perculating progressives…and enough good, loyal servants to insure that everyone is dressed for dinner on time.  Accuracy, it seems, is beside the point. For those wishing for a less moth-eaten picture of the time…or counting tea times until the next episode, Michael Hermann owner of Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord is with us to share some suggested reading.

Michael's Downton-inspired book list:

Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir that inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey, by Margaret Powell

Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain

Lady Almina & the Real Downton Abbey, by the Countess of Carnavon

Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor, by Rosina Harrison


A Long, Long Way, by Sebastian Barry

Regeneration, by Pat Barker (first of a trilogy)

Fall of Giants, by Ken Follett  

The Children's Book, by A.S. Byatt

The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy

Code of the Woosters, by P. G. Wodehouse  (one of many Jeeves novels)

Lark Rise to Candleford, by Flora Thompson

The Shooting Party, by Isabel Colegate

The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton

The Buccaneers, by Edith Wharton  (1870s, but on point with American heiresses trying to break into British society)

Mrs Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf (not strong on plot, bless her, but great at capturing the interior life. One of her characters here is a WWI vet who is subject to hallucinations) 


World War I poets Brooke, Sassoon, Owen, and others are published separately, and some of their poems are collected in this Dover edition.


Heartbreak House, by Bernard Shaw


The Great War and Modern Memory, by Paul Fussell

The Proud Tower, by Barbara Tuchman

The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm, by Juliet Nicolson

The Viceroy's Daughters, by Anne DeCourcy (out of print, but find it in your

library!) To End All Wars, by Adam Hochschild

Curzon: Imperial Statesman, by David Gilmour

Mysteries and other light fare

Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear (first of a series)

An Impartial Witness, by Charles Todd (part of a series)

A Countess Below Stairs, by Eva Ibbotson (this is great for the young adult




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