Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lady Almina and the real Downton Abbey


Downton Abbey has received a lot of buzz as the hottest BBC television show to emerge in recent years. The rich historical drama is nothing more than a soap opera with the rich wrappings of the British upper class. The television show is filmed in Highclere castle and draws inspiration from some of its previous inhabitants.

One of those previous inhabitants was Lady Almina Countess of Carnarvon. And like the television show, there is a hushed scandal when Almina marries the Count. But what draws viewers to the television is more than the occasional scandal. There is intense interest in seeing how the upper class lives in comparison to the lives of those that they employ. That upstairs-downstairs story. This book contains details of what it was like to live as or work for the upper class of late Victorian and Edwardian England.

The most surprising and most interesting part of the book is not about Lady Almina. She made huge contributions to the war effort of World War I, establishing two hospitals and hiring medical staff. It was the details of World War I were interesting and revealing. The transformation of England from the Victorian to the modern era and how that effects the people of Highclere was fascinating. The story of her husband Lord Carnarvon and his discovery of King Tut's tomb was equally fascinating.

The book does not get bogged down in endless biographical details. It sets the mentioned individuals in their historical context. The story wraps up shortly after the death of Lord Carnarvon and how the family members moved on. I appreciated this because it made the book an easy read. I had hoped for more photographs, especially since the author describes photographs which were not included. Still, there is enough of a look into the family's life with what is included.

Book Rating: 5 stars

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

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