by Lady Fiona J. M. Aitken Herbert, Countess of Carnarvon
Narrator: Wanda McCaddon
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Audiobook Publisher: Tantor Media
Publication Date: March 5, 2012
Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of the audiobook from Tantor Media through Edelweiss (Above the Treeline). I was not required to write a favourable review, nor was I otherwise compensated in exchange for my review. I also borrowed the print edition of the book from my local library. All opinions expressed are strictly my own.
I loved both the print and audio versions of this book! As a fan of Downton Abbey, I was fascinated with all the ways in which the show mirrors the real life of the family who inhabited Highclere Castle (where the show is filmed) at the time. Normally with books like this I try to indicate whether or not I think it would be "for fans only" or if it be of interest to non-fans as well, but this book is aimed at fans of Downton Abbey for a reason. If you are interested in the lives of the aristocracy and the servant classes in early twentieth century England, you will probably like this book. Then again, if that's the case you'll probably like Downton Abbey too!
I loved reading about the similarities between the fictional Lord and Lady Grantham and the real Lord and Lady Carnarvon, including the Earl marrying a wealthy woman to save his fortune, the castle serving as a hospice for soldiers in WWI, the shooting hunts (or is it hunting shoots?) the division of labour among the servants and much of the specific details about their lives, the Earl's ever faithful dog, and even a stoic but compassionate man named Mr. Bates who is forced to walk with a cane due to a war injury (Wow! So many things! And more, actually.). Above all, I loved reading more about my absolute favourite character on Downton Abbey, which is Highclere Castle itself.
Plus the audiobook narration by Wanda McCaddon is absolutely perfect. Although you miss out on some of the photos if you opt for the audiobook only, I'd almost say it's worth it just to hear the story in Ms. McCaddon's pitch perfect delivery. If only they could have somehow had the Downton Abbey theme playing in the background of the audiobook, it would have been sheer heaven.
I wonder what other similarities the writers will use in upcoming seasons of Downton Abbey. Will Lord Grantham help uncover the tomb of King Tut in Series Four, just as Lord Carnarvon did in 1922? OH I HOPE SO!
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