Everybody watches it, including Prince William and Kate Middleton. The royal couple, of course, has an advantage over us regular Americans (well, not just one, mind you ). They reside in Britain, where the fourth season of Downton Abbey was shown last year, while we are still waiting for its American opening on January 5. The series, which is one of the biggest hits PBS Masterpiece Theatre has had in recent years, won best mini-series at the Golden Globes in 2012, and it has been nominated for best drama television series in 2014. As for the publishing industry, it continues to reflect Downton Abbey’s glory, too.
“Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey,” by Fiona Carnarvon, tells the story of Catherine Wendell, the beautiful American woman who married the son of Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon (see another Fiona Carnarvon book, “Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey”). The book also presents a history of Highclere Castle (the setting of the show), especially the period when, during World War II, the castle became a home for evacuee children from London and its expansive property a troop training ground.
Emma Rowleyl’s “Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey: The Official backstage Pass to the Set, the Actors and the Drama” depicts the inner workings of the show. The author describes the actors and the staff, the kitchen and the wardrobe, the make-up and the hair, and much more. The book is written in a conversational style, and it is supplied with multiple illustrations any fan of the show will enjoy.
Those who have been following the PBS Masterpiece series (both with and without the “Theatre”) should not miss “Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece and Mystery,” by Rebecca Eaton, an executive producer of the series for 25 years. Eaton’s book is a mix of interviews with writers, directors and other contributors to the show, as well as personal reminiscences about her life, history of the show and the actors who have been involved in it.
If, come January 5, you’ll be hosting a Downton Abbey viewing party, check out “While We Were Watching Downton Abbey” by Wendy Wax beforehand, so you’ll know what to expect from that experience .
And last but not least, don’t get upset if you miss one or two new episodes. Your library will receive the fourth season of the show at the end of January (the first three seasons are already in our collection). Also, remember, we have enough Masterpiece shows here to get you through the winter. Happy watching and reading!