Are you as distressed as I am that Downton Abbey will soon be ending FOR GOOD?
(sob) Given the world-wide popularity of the show, there are surprisingly few
books set in the Edwardian era that incorporate the upstairs-downstairs,
love-interest and drama that make the show so engaging (to say nothing of the
yummy fashions.) But, in an attempt to offer solace, I’ve gathered a few volumes
which segue in and beyond the period of Downton, in which one may take refuge
after the glorious series images fade—ending with a tantalizing treat coming
soon from series creator Julian Fellowes that you
won’t want to miss!
We’ll begin with a book that incorporates some “Country House Mystery”
Kinghorn’s THE MEMORY OF
LOST SENSES. When a mysterious countess moves into a large country house
outside her English village in the summer of 1911, Cecily Chadwick is thrilled
and tantalized. Soon, stories begin to circulate about the countess’s wealth,
husbands, lovers, and personal tragedies. Delighted to become acquainted with
the lady, Cecily is soon fascinated by the woman and her tales of her exotic
life and the famous people she knew, even though the countess’s companion, a
writer supposedly compiling the countess’s memoirs, discourages the friendship.
She’s even more fascinated by the countess’s grandson, Jack, who entices her
ever more deeply into the labyrinth of the Countess’s past and its haunting
secrets. As that past is slowly revealed, by the writer, by the countess and by
the attraction between Jack and Cecily that draws out some of the countess’s own
buried memories, the secrets revealed cast a long shadow over the future of
Cecily, Jack and everyone connected to the countess.
The collision of characters from upstairs, downstairs and in between
drives the story of THE
TAILOR’S GIRL by Fiona
McIntosh. A common soldier known only as “Jones,” who awakes with no
memories except fleeting glimpses of the battlefield horrors of Ypres, is
distracted from his anxiety when he sees the beautiful Eden Valentine delivering
a suit to the hospital. A lovely seamstress who works with her father, the two
of them drawn closer by her brother’s death in the war, Eden is engaged to her
childhood sweetheart—who appreciates neither her dreams of owning her own
business nor her increasing fascination with “Jones.”
As Edie spends more times with “Jones,” trying to help him recover his memory,
the affection developing between them strains her links to her family. An
accident and an unexpected bit of information discovered by Alex Wynter, heir to
an industrial empire and the country house, Larksfell Hall, further complicates
their lives. Will new love overwhelm the ties from the past—or new revelations
shred all ties for good?
THE FLOWERS OF THE FIELD
by Sarah Harrison
brings us another vision of the changes wrought in the wartime years, from the
prospective of three women connected to a privileged family. Offspring of a
wealthy industrialist father and an aristocratic mother, as the pre-war story
begins, Thea Tennant chafes at the traditional role expected of her, while her
indulged younger sister Dulcie strains the rules of polite behavior, and their
parlor maid, Primmy, dreams of a life beyond service, free from the constraints
of birth and class.
This sprawling epic covers the whole breadth of the war, from the servicemen who
experience the horror of the trenches, to the work of women in new roles as
ambulance drivers, nurses and factory workers, to the suffragettes,
conscientious objectors, and POWs. Across this vast stage, Thea, Dulcie and
Primmy make their way toward unexpected futures.
A unique view from the “other side” is presented by A. O’Connor in THE LEFT-HANDED MARRIAGE.
Irish beauty Diana Cantwell falls in love with Max Von Hoffsten, son of a German
count, in the carefree days before World War I. But since Diana doesn’t possess
the pedigree the Count considers necessary for his heir’s bride, when they
become engaged, the Count insists on a “left-handed marriage,” in which Diana,
though Max’s legal wife, can inherit none of Max’s wealth, nor can the title
pass to any of their children. They marry anyway, hosting glamorous parties in
lavish locales in Europe. When war comes, Diana loyally remains in Germany,
supporting her army husband, even though her family is fighting on the other
side, and she is viewed with suspicion in Berlin.
When Max is reported as “missing, presumed dead,” Diana is rejected by her
husband’s family. Penniless, and with her reputation ruined, Diana resettles in
London, where, during the Roaring 20’s, she tries to put back together the
shattered pieces of her life. But a series of mysterious messages, phone calls
and sightings begin to make her suspect that Max may not be dead, after all. If
he’s alive, why is he in hiding? And what sinister secret from the past
threatens not just him, but her own life as well?
Our final entry is an exciting new venture between Grand Central Publishing and
Downton series creator, Julian Fellowes. His
latest project is BELGRAVIA, a story set in
the London of the 1840s, based on a secret and featuring the interplay between
members of the traditional aristocracy and the newly rich industrial elite.
Rather than debuting in book format, this new work will use a blend of modern
technology and old-fashioned storytelling to present, as the website says, “a
story in 11 episodes published by week in the tradition of Charles Dickens.”
Beginning in April 2016, JULIAN FELLOWE’S BELGRAVIA will be released via an app
as a text or audio download directly to the reader’s phone, tablet or desktop.
The series, which includes a free prologue and ten weekly installments, can be
purchased as a whole for $13.99 or individually at $1.99 each, obtainable from
the website www.julianfellowesbelgravia.com or regular e-book retailers
(you can go to the website now to register.) If the whole series is purchased,
it will automatically download to the reader’s chosen device when the new
installment is released each Friday, along with extra material, videos and bonus
features. After the series ends, a hardcover edition will be printed in July.
Ready to sign up for Julian’s latest endeavor? Willing to wait for the
hardcover, or to try some of the other titles mentioned here? You now have
several options to feed your Downton fervor!
Real, intense, passionate historical romance
After twelve years as a vagabond Navy wife, an adventure that took her from
Virginia Beach, VA, to Monterrey, CA, to Tunis, Tunisia to Oslo, Norway and
back, Julia Justiss followed her husband to his family's East Texas
homeland. On a hill above a pond with a view of pasture land, they built an
English Georgian-style home. Sitting at her desk there, if she ignores the
summer heat, she can almost imagine herself in Jane Austen's Regency
In between teaching high school French and making jaunts to visit
her three children (a Seabee in Gulfport, MS, a clothing buyer in Houston and a
mechanical engineer in Austin, TX) she pursues her first love—writing
Leader of Hadley’s Hellions, a group of outsiders who bond together at Oxford
vowing to reform Society, Giles Hadley wants nothing to do with the earl, his
father who banished him, or his stepbrother George, who is the bane of his
existence. But he’s curious about the woman rumor says George is to marry,
daughter and political hostess of prominent Tory Lord Witlow.
part, Lady Maggie finds angry rebel Giles far more fascinating than George—so
fascinating, that though she has no intention of risking her heart after losing
her beloved husband, she might just be tempted into an affair…
1 comment posted.