Friday, September 21, 2012

Read This, Watch That: Maids and Lords

Sometimes you wake up and wish that someone else would get you a cup of tea and a nice biscuit. Well, if you'd lived in England up until about World War I there was a chance you might have been rich enough for someone to bring you breakfast in bed... of course, there's also a chance you'd have been the person bringing the breakfast upstairs.


Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame
The Darlingtons have owned Wentworth Hall for generations, but lately times have been a lot tighter. It would be a lot easier for the family if the oldest daughter, Maggie would make a very wealthy match. To try and ensure that this will happen, Maggie's father has asked the very attractive and wealthy Fitzhugh twins to stay at Wentworh. If Teddy should happen to fall for Maggie, so much the better.

Except, Maggie isn't interested in falling for any wealthy young men. Her younger sister can't believe her callousness, but she doesn't know the secrets Maggie is hiding. In fact, everyone has a little something to hide- whether it's Norah, Maggie's maid, Michael, the groom or the Fitzhugh twins themselves. Nothing is quite as it seems behind the walls of Wentworth Hall.

If you like your drama & intrigue served up with high tea and serious class battles, this book will fill all your cravings.

Downton Abbey

If you live under a rock (or are under the age of 50), you may not know what Downton Abbey is. This is a travesty, but not one that can't be rectified. 

The show opens in the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The Crawleys, a titled family in Yorkshire have just gotten word that the heir to the Crawley fortune, a distant but beloved cousin and betrothed to the eldest Crawley daughter, Mary, had drowned with the ship. The inheritance must now pass on to an even more distant and completely unknown relative, an attorney (how plebeian!) named Matthew Crawley.Mary, beautiful, strong-willed, and with an infinite well of snappy rejoinders, refuses to marry Matthew (and thus keep the fortune in the family), forcing her parents to find a suitably wealthy and titled man to wed her. 

Meanwhile, the country is on the verge of World War I, Matthew is trying to reconcile his populist sensibilities with his new future as an Earl, and Mary's younger sisters, Edith and Sybil, are struggling with the new wave of feminism and liberalism railing against their still-somewhat-feudal lifestyle. What sets DA apart from other period pieces, though, is that it offers parallel storylines involving the Crawleys' servants. Charlie Carson is the loyal butler who strives to protect their way of life. John Bates is the mysterious valet who served in the South African war with Mr. Crawley years before and to whom the handsome, suave footman, Thomas Barrow, and his ally and Mrs. Crawley's maid, Sarah O'Brien, have decided to sabotage. The romantic and familial twists and turns could rival almost any daytime soap opera, but the acting, costumes, set, and writing are so excellent that you'll be thinking about the characters days after each episode airs. You need to watch it. Seriously.

If you're already a fan of the series, check out this list of great resources to read while you're waiting for the next season!

No comments: