With the U.S. is a mere eight weeks away from the premiere of the next installment of Downton Abbey, to many, it still seems to be a lifetime away. For the millions of fans that are longtime members of the Downton Abbey Separation Anxiety Society, there is hope on the horizon with the release of the newest ‘Downton’ book, Chronicles of Downton Abbey – A New Era. For any Downton fan, this is a must read before January 6, 2013. Matthew Sturgiss and Jessica Fellowes, the niece of series creator/writer, Julian Fellowes, have created the most thorough companion book of the series to date.
Written in period style, not only are there a number of insights from individuals who experienced the 1920′s firsthand, there are some brilliant ads for products that paint a distinct picture of the times such as for the first pop-up toaster, made by Hotpoint, which appeared on the scene in 1919. This is a great read, mainly because it’s more of a character-driven structure rather than a simple chronology of the series from the beginning when the two heirs to Downton died on the Titanic and a distant third cousin, Matthew, suddenly becomes the heir apparent.
According to a recent review in the Telegraph, the book also features a really interesting forward by Julian Fellowes giving devoted fans a bit of the Downton backstory that isn’t widely known. Fellowes explains that many of the characters were based on either family, friends or acquaintances. For example, the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith), was inspired by great aunt Isie while the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) resembled his dear departed father; the maid of a cousin was the blueprint for ladies’ maid O’Brien and, most amusingly, Carson shares many similarities with his ‘dear friend‘ retired butler Arthur Inch.
The coffee-table sized book also features some brilliant photographs from series 3 detailing the long-awaited encounters between the Dowager Countess and the ‘newest American Dowager’, Shirley MacLaine, along with what look decidedly like ***SPOILER ALERT*** wedding photos.
The book releases tomorrow (Tuesday, 13 November) so if you have a Downton Abbey fan in the family, I think you’ve just solved your Christmas gift dilemma. Happy reading….