Thursday, May 8, 2014

T-Minus Four Days to Mother's Day—#4 for the Mom who likes Downton Abbey

[Check out #5 on our Mother's Day countdown, here.]

This is for the mom who enjoys history, Downton Abbey, aristocracy, and Jane Austen. Preferably she never refers to Prince Charles as "Chuck," and she's received post cards of the baby Prince William, which she has placed on her refrigerator, next to her own children. She thinks Prince Albert of Belgium is "hubba-hubba" hot, and she would be right (although she would phrase it more delicately).

These are some of the books she's going to like.

The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock is the first book of a trilogy that has actually been out for years, but is known to few. However, once Downton Abbey became an PBS hit, Phillip Rock's Grenville trilogy came back to life, and we have been successfully selling this book to lovers of Edwardian England since. Check out this review on Austenprose to learn more about the book and why it's perfect for Mother's Day.

Or, if you've already gotten that for your mom, consider some of the fiction of Julian Fellowes (creator of Downton Abbey), or stick with some of the classics: Austen, the Brontes, or (my personal favorite of all time), George Eliot's Middlemarch.

After the sensation of Downton Abbey a piece of non-fiction called Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey was published. This is the story of Highclere Castle, and the war-time Lady of Highclere, Almina, Countess of Carnarvon. The stories of Lady Carnarvon and Lady Crawley are very much the same (one crucial difference I'll reveal now is that Lady Carnarvon was not American, although she was born into a industrialist family), including opening Highclere up to wounded soldiers during World War I.

A bawdy follow-up to that would be To Marry an English Lord: Tales of Wealth and Marriage, Sex and Snobbery. I believe the subtitle says what we're looking for. What it omits is that the subjects of this book are American women, "trading dollars for titles," and learning how to pass into English society. Filled to the margins with pictures, quotes, synopses and anecdotes, this is a great companion piece to the Downton Abbey lover in your family.

Not enough? Not juussst right? We've got more, fiction and non-fiction, historical and about the Women. Here's a brief list:

  • Book of Ages by Jill Lapore (read Kim's review, here)
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (see my blog post about the second book in this series, here)
  • Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff (because you really do want to know: does it end with an asp, or not?)

James Maynard, May 2014

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