Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey

The Countess of Carnarvon, Author
Fiona Carnarvon, the Countess of Carnarvon. Broadway, $15.99 trade paper (350p) ISBN 978-0-385-34496-8
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-385-34497-5
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This follow-up to the well-received Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey is an excellent depiction of English aristocratic life, notably of the 6th Earl of Carnarvon and his wife, Lady Catherine, during the years leading up to and during WWII. A "flirtatious and fun" beauty, American-born Catherine Wendell married Lord Porchester, nicknamed Porchey, who became the 6th Earl of Carnarvon after his father, a renowned Egyptologist credited with discovering the tomb of Tutankhamun, died in 1923. Catherine and Porchey partied during the carefree Roaring ‘20s with other British nobility until the war encroached, bringing air raids, crumbling infrastructure, death and food shortages; their home, Highclere Castle, became a sanctuary for London's young children, and its expansive property—a troop training ground. Masterpiece Theater's Downton Abbey is Highclere Castle's fictional "alter ego"; much of the 8th (and current) Countess of Carnarvon's genealogical and historical research—diaries, letters, and photographs—is from Highclere's archives, which create a compelling portrait of the era's lives, deaths, politics, scandals and the war's impact on Porchey and Catherine's family. Lady Carnarvon's narrative is a vivid time-stamp of a tempestuous period in history, aptly incorporating its political situation and social structure, to satisfy history buffs and Anglophiles. (Nov.)
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