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

74%

31 Critic Reviews

The author, the present Countess of Carnarvon, digs into the archives with relish for a lively sense of how the glamorous old houses were run, both upstairs and downstairs. Although her tone is rather gushing, her familiarity with this romantic era between the wars lends a winning accessibility for all readers.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes's Emmy Award-winning PBS show Downton Abbey, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war.
    Much like her Masterpiece Classic counterpart, Lady Cora Crawley, Lady Almina was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Alfred de Rothschild, who married his daughter off at a young age, her dowry serving as the crucial link in the effort to preserve the Earl of Carnarvon's ancestral home.  Throwing open the doors of Highclere Castle to tend to the wounded of World War I, Lady Almina distinguished herself as a brave and remarkable woman.
    This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.

 

About the Countess of Carnarvon

See more books from this Author
Lady Fiona Carnarvon studied English and German at the University of St. Andrews before becoming an accountant. She met her husband, Geordie, in 1996 and, in 2001, they took over the tenureship of Highclere Castle, Berkshire, becoming the eighth Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. The Countess of Carnarvon is also the author of Carnarvon & Carter: The Story of the Two Englishmen Who Discovered the Tomb of Tutankhamun. Wanda McCaddon began recording books for the fledgling audiobook industry in the early 1980s and has since narrated well over six hundred titles for major audio publishers, as well as abridging, narrating, and coproducing classic titles for her own company, Big Ben. Audiobook listeners may be familiar with her voice under one of her two "nom de mikes," Donada Peters and Nadia May. The recipient of an Audie Award and more than twenty-five Earphones Awards, AudioFile magazine has named her one of recording's Golden Voices. Wanda also appears regularly on the professional stage in the San Francisco Bay Area.
 
Published December 27, 2011 by Broadway Books. 321 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon6
Peak Rank on Jan 24 2016
icon12
Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
1
Want to Read
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Lady Almina And The Real Downton Abbey
All: 31 | Positive: 23 | Negative: 8

Kirkus

Above average
on Sep 16 2013

The author, the present Countess of Carnarvon, digs into the archives with relish for a lively sense of how the glamorous old houses were run, both upstairs and downstairs. Although her tone is rather gushing, her familiarity with this romantic era between the wars lends a winning accessibility for all readers.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Nov 15 2013

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.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Miranda Seymour on Sep 15 2011

The author can readily be excused for wishing to exploit the link to Downton Abbey. It's less easy to exonerate her decision to ignore William Cross's startling account...woman whose calamitous fall makes for more compelling reading than the present Lady Carnarvon's cheerily-glossed and pleasantly illustrated tale.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Miranda Seymour on Sep 15 2011

The author can readily be excused for wishing to exploit the link to Downton Abbey. It's less easy to exonerate her decision to ignore William Cross's startling account. . .of a promiscuous and ambitious – yet admirable – woman. . .

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down... | See more reviews from Guardian

Examiner

Above average
Reviewed by Kayla Posney on Nov 23 2012

As it is a historical work, the book can be dry and a bit detailed and slow at times, but it still remains a fascinating look at the woman and the home that helped to inspire the beloved "Downton Abbey".

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Jennifer Lafferty on Sep 26 2012

As much as “Lady Almina And The Real Downton Abbey” is about Highclere and the Carnarvon family, it is just as much about a grand, idyllic and largely forgotten way of life. Eventful and captivating, this book is a fun and easy read.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Lisa Westerfield on Aug 03 2012

Overall I believe Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey is a must read for any fan of Julian Fellowes’ Downton Abbey. Further, it is a decent book about the history of a prevalent English manor during the transformative years of the First World War.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Book Reporter

Good
on Mar 04 2015

This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Suite 101

Good
Reviewed by Ellie Stevenson on Mar 04 2015

The book provides a fascinating insight into the difficult war years and its here that we see the closest connections with Downton Abbey.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

NJ.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Fran Wood on Dec 18 2011

. . .dramatically captures the estate during the pre-war and war years, and paints a compelling (if not an entirely historically accurate) portrait of Lady Almina.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Mail Online

Excellent
Oct 27 2011

Nor, as with Downton, is 'downstairs' forgotten. . .

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

City View

Excellent
Reviewed by Harriet Leitch on Apr 26 2012

It is a wonderful mixture of history, the world of wealth, the realities of the Great War and the excitement of discovering the treasures of King Tut.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Lancaster Online

Excellent
Reviewed by Liesel Schillinger on Dec 31 2011

The book includes lustrous photographs of Lady Almina that look like Gainsboroughs.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Shades of Sentience

Good
Reviewed by Katharine Stubbs on Oct 24 2012

For fans of Downton Abbey this book is sure to be interesting, and for those who like history, this is also a must. It’s well written and easy to read, interesting – touching on subjects for the perfect length of time.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

The Chestertown Spy

Excellent
Reviewed by Mary Wood on Jan 19 2012

Life at Highclere Castle as portrayed in this book is even more fascinating.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Smart B***s Trashy Books

Above average
Reviewed by Carrie S on Jan 26 2014

The author, the current Countess of Canarvon, clearly has an image to sell. But she sells it well, and the pictures alone are delightful. This is an enjoyable peek at history – just don’t expect it to give you the whole picture.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

The Lit B***h

Good

This books is a must read for uber Downton Abbey fans!

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Impressions In Ink

Good
Reviewed by Annette on Mar 27 2012

Of most interest is comparing the photographs of glamorous Lady Almina, versus the starched nursing uniform attire Lady Almina wore during her nursing duty of World War I.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Reading to Know

Good
Reviewed by Carrie on Jul 09 2012

I would love to read this book again. And again. And then perhaps even again! I'll definitely be slipping this book on my shelf to enjoy in the future and heartily recommend to others!

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Austenprose

Below average
Reviewed by Laurel Ann on Apr 22 2012

I rather wish Lady Carnarvon had chosen to go in one direction or the other: a meaty, substantive biography or a lighter, fictionalized account.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

To Read or Not To Read

Good
Reviewed by Marcie on Mar 09 2012

Fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy getting the scoop on the factual events behind the show.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

BookaliciousBabe

Good
Reviewed by SUE G. on Jan 24 2012

This book has it all: history, adventure, tragedy, and a look at the world of the privileged. The only difference between them and the rest of us is money.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Ripple Effects

Above average
on May 10 2012

But while it lacks the design and architectural specifics I was looking for, the book has brought me something else. Yes, there is a myriad of Edwardian high society accounts, the fashion and the opulence, as expected. But to my surprise, the latter part of the book offers a greater appeal to me.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Lit Witch

Below average
Reviewed by Katherine

. . .the book barely touches on the rest of Lady Almina’s life and her death isn’t even described.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Head Butler

Above average
Reviewed by Jesse Kornbluth on Jan 15 2013

Lady Carnarvon glosses over Almira’s less successful second marriage. She does not tell us how she ran through her money. Or that, in 1969, she choked to death while eating stew. Just as well.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Radiant Lit

Good
Reviewed by Lori Twichell on May 30 2012

If you enjoy Downton Abbey at all, you’ll enjoy hearing more about the great lady who inspired the story, lived in the house and changed a lot of people’s lives for the better.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Marisa Reads It and Writes It

Good
Reviewed by Marisa Moen on Feb 27 2012

. . .a lovely little book that delves into the life of Lady Almina and also into the lives of those who helped run Highclere Castle.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

https://julzreads.wordpress.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Julie Merilatt on Jul 21 2015

Overall, this is a fascinating look at a bygone era and unimaginable wealth. Lady Almina was an inspiring figure and did so much good with her funds and her gracious spirit.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Book Conscious

Above average
Reviewed by Deb Baker on Feb 05 2013

It’s not bad writing, and if you understand the perspective of the author, you take with a grain of salt her effusive praise of her predecessor. Besides, Almina was quite a woman. She makes Cora seem pretty wishy washy by comparison, honestly.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

The Lonely Owl

Above average
Reviewed by lonelyowlbooks on Nov 25 2012

However, I was looking for something more centered around the house, Highclere Castle...All in all this book was certainly well worth reading. It’s well written and if you’re a historical fiction lover this is a real story just as interesting as fiction.

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

The Adventures of Lesalina

Good
Reviewed by Lesalina on Apr 30 2012

The Countess does a wonderful job recreating life at Highclere with her words. . .

Read Full Review of Lady Almina And The Real Down...

Reader Rating for Lady Almina And The Real Downton Abbey
82%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 1689 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review

Reader reviews & activity

kailea

kailea 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

×