The World of Downton Abbey

The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes is a companion to the first two seasons of the BBC television series about an Edwardian noble family and their home, Downton Abbey. It features a foreword by Julian Fellowes, creator of the series. If you like the television show, you’ll enjoy this book. It is chock full of photographs, both from the show and from actual historical counterparts of the cast. It tells the back story behind the characters and events of the show, comparing and contrasting with actual historical people and the world of today. It includes quotes from the cast members regarding their characters and what it is like the film the series, as well as excerpts from letters written during the historical time period during which the show takes place.

My favorite aspect of this book was the discussion of how the sets were created and how the show was filmed. Although Downton Abbey is a real house called Highclere Castle, through the years the way castles are staffed and run has changed immensely. Because of this, the kitchen was no longer usable for the show, and the servants quarters were no longer historically accurate. So, “below stairs” and the attic had to be recreated, at a sound stage some distance away from the actual castle. The actors who portray the staff really get a taste of the “us and them” feeling of life in a historical castle, since they spend days and even weeks without being even near Highclere. A dish may be sent from the kitchen and not “appear” in the dining room for two weeks.

If you aren’t a fan of Downton Abbey I’m not sure why you would read a book like this you might find it difficult to get into The World of Downton Abbey. However, if you have watched and enjoyed the show, I would highly recommend this book.

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