NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon

3.0 out of 5 stars "It is neither a biography nor a work of fiction." "It is not a history.",  
September 16, 2013

With this prologue, the author begins her tribute to Almina Carnarvon -- a very wealthy heiress who married into her title as the 5th Countess of Carnarvon and settled into life at Highclere Castle, which as most know, serves as the setting for a popular PBS and Emmy Award-winning show - Downton Abbey.

Lady Almina, as she is referred to in the book, was purportedly the pampered illegitimate daughter of a very wealthy man (Alfred de Rothschild) and her money was crucial in the restoration of Highclere which became the center for lavish weekend parties and spectacular excess so common during the Edwardian age among the aristocrats.

I really enjoyed the details about life and times in this period of history. I also liked reading about the different family members as well as the staff downstairs. Really, no small tidbit was too much! I would have preferred that the author focus more on Almina's daily activities and her family rather than the long digression about World War I -- which certainly affected their lifestyle -- but just more about the lives of those in the Castle as well. Their relationships, the trials and tribulations of the servants, etc., but perhaps there was not that much archival information for the author to review about them. Certainly one of the most important things that Almina did, and what she probably hoped to be remembered for, was how she threw herself into nursing and opened the doors of the Castle for recovering wounded officers. The chapters that described her husband's travels and discoveries in Egypt were fascinating, but I was really wanting more about Highclere and the life there rather than a focus on the Earl.

As many have said, a relative (even one by marriage) paints a particularly rosy picture of one whom she admires. I accepted that and enjoyed the story of a quite interesting and remarkable Lady Almina during a really difficult and turbulent time. I already have the next book by this author and am reading it now.

Definitely recommend to any fan of Edwardian England and anyone interested in the real estate that has since become instantly recognizable from television.
3.5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment