If you, like me, watch enthralled as each new episode of “Downton Abbey” arrives, you’ll love this book written by the current Countess of Carnarvon. This is one of those wonderful books where the facts are almost better than the fiction. Exceptionally well-written and entertaining, “Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey” picks up the story of the Earls of Carnarvon in the early 1920’s and follows the family and the house’s fortunes through the Second World War. Catherine Wendell, an American, met Lord Porchester (later the sixth Earl of Carnarvon) when she was just 19. Not long after their marriage in 1922, Lord Porchester’s father died and they assumed the running of the family home, Highclere (familiar to television fans as the fictional Downton Abbey.) Beset by financial problems, the future of the house was precarious.
“Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey” reads like a wonderful piece of historical fiction, with the added bonus of it being fact. You’ll find yourself enthralled with the intimate details of the efforts of this young couple to save the family home as well as the numerous and charming details of life both above and below stairs at Highclere. Even if you’re not a fan of “Downton Abbey”, this is great piece of history, an intimate account of one family’s experience set against the backdrop of a rapidly changing time.
This book was provided to me by the publisher for this review. The opinions, however, are entirely my own!