Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey

Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey

Book - 2013
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Sometimes the facts are even more extraordinary than the fiction...

This book tells the story of Lady Catherine, a beautiful American girl who became the chatelaine of Highclere Castle, the setting for Julian Fellowes' award-winning drama Downton Abbey .

Charming and charismatic, Catherine caught the eye of Lord Porchester (or 'Porchey', as he was known) when she was just 20 years old, and wearing a pale yellow dress at a ball. She had already turned down 14 proposals before she eventually married Porchey in 1922. But less than a year later Porchey's father died suddenly, and he became the 6th Earl of Carnarvon, inheriting a title and a Castle that changed both their lives forever.

Catherine found herself suddenly in charge of a small army of household staff, and hosting lavish banquets and weekend house parties. Although the couple were very much in love, considerable challenges lay ahead for Catherine. They were immediately faced with the task of saving Highclere when debts threatened to destroy the estate. As the 1920s moved to a close, Catherine's adored brother died and she began to lose her husband to the distractions London had to offer. When the Second World War broke out, life at the Castle would never be the same again.
Drawing on rich material from the private archives at Highclere, including beautiful period photographs, the current Countess of Carnarvon transports us back to the thrilling and alluring world of the 'real Downton Abbey' and its inhabitants.
Publisher: London : Hodder & Stoughton, 2013
ISBN: 9781444762105
Branch Call Number: 942.271 C214Lc
Characteristics: xii, 350 p., [32] p. of plates : ill. ; 23 cm


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Sep 03, 2018

This was a very interesting book. The author certainly had great compassion and empathy for her subjects. The timeline of this volume is right after the events of the First World War. This was a time of incredible change for Great Britain. The author covered the 20 years in between the two great wars admirably. Then she covered the Second World War. There was a lot I learned in this book of how the British suffered in that war. I think the present Countess of Carvarvon had to do a great deal of historical work to get her facts straight - she certainly was not alive at this time. Essentially she covered the history of her husband's family with great tact and honesty. I highly recommend this book. It is interesting to read and you will learn a great deal in the offing.

This is a fascinating read of the lives of the rich and famous in the 1920's and '30's. It is written objectively, with some social context. The amorality of the upper class at the time, the lack of empahty for the poor. they were like a class of sociaopaths. Catherine has the luxury of a nervous break down when she makes the decision to divorce her husband. Porchey never does repent his life of squandor and philandering. Makes one happy that those days have past and the social revolution has at least made the wealthy aware of the consequences of thier wealth.
This book is not intended to be a charming re-telling of the BBC tv show. It is a hard look at the real Downton Abbey. Brava to Carnarvon for writing this story for posterity.

Mar 26, 2014

This is one of the most horribly written books, I have read in a while. Obviously the writer is not a writer by trade or nature. I found it a boring, trite and superficial look at a set of people, from a dying era. Over and above that, I found no real redeeming qualities of character in the Earl of Porchester or his set of cronies. If you are looking for better writing, stick to the dramatic BBC production of 'Downton Abbey, on Masterpiece Theater..

Jan 07, 2014

A delightful book,easy to read. Fiona Carnovan chronicles her families history weaving in historical events and the mores that governed each generation.

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