Adult Book Lists: If you like "Downton Abbey"

[Printable book list]

Fiction

Rebecca Dean's The Golden Prince

Rebecca Dean
The Golden Prince
FIC DEAN

Edward, Prince of Wales, already feels suffocated by the trappings of royalty at age 17. His life takes an unexpected turn when he encounters the four Houghton sisters and falls head over heels for Lily, the youngest sister. But it's 1912 England; princes cannot marry commoners. Is Edward willing to sacrifice his crown for love? Author Rebecca Dean imagines the what-if scenario in this romantic historical fiction.


Ken Follett's Fall of giants

Ken Follett
Fall of Giants (First book in the Century Trilogy)
FIC FOLLETT / AD FIC FOLLETT

Ken Follett documents the dramas of five families from five different countries — Wales, England, Germany, Russia and the United States — and different classes over the course of the 20th century. Between World War I, the Russian Revolution and women's suffrage, somehow their fates are tied together.


John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga

John Galsworthy
The Forsyte Saga
FIC GALSWORT / DVD FORSYTE

John Galsworthy's three novels, first published from 1906 to 1921, earned him a Nobel Prize in Literature. The tale spans the 1886 to 1920 and chronicles the changing fortunes and personal foibles of the well-to-do middle-class Forsyte family. The inevitable TV series, which premiered in 2002, ranked just behind "Upstairs, Downstairs" (which we also have!) in a 2007 poll of fan favorites.


Daisy Goodwin's The American Heiress

Daisy Goodwin
The American Heiress
FIC GOODWIN / AD FIC GOODWIN

You'll find echoes of Robert and Cora Crawley's relationship in The American Heiress Hounded by her mother, American heiress Cora Cash goes in search of a husband among the cash-strapped English aristocracy in 1893. She nabs the handsome and mysterious Duke Wareham but marriage only brings more complications as Cora is frozen out of the English society and kept at arm's length by the Duke.


Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day

Kazuo Ishiguro
The Remains of the Day
FIC ISHIGURO / AD FIC ISHIGURO / DVD REMAINS

In this character study, an aging English butler examines his 30 years of service and has to come to terms with his feelings of loss and self-sacrifice. He has blindly dedicated his life to his employers at the expense of his own, mistakenly believing stoicism and propriety to be ideal qualities of his profession.


Sadie Jones' The Univited Guests

Sadie Jones
The Uninvited Guests
FIC JONES

What starts out as a small birthday party quickly turns into comedic chaos. The Swift family are without their patriarch — he's gone to Manchester in hopes of saving their English country house — and said house is now full of third-class train passengers and survivors of a recent accident. Taking place over the course of a spring evening in 1912, this is a charmingly-told tale of romance, intrigue and class consciousness.


Kate Morton's The House at Riverton

Kate Morton
The House at Riverton
FIC MORTON / AD FIC MORTON

A poet dies during a summer ball at Riverton House in Oxfordshire, 1924. The only ones who know the truth about the violent death are the two Hartford daughters and their servant, Grace Bradley. Flash-forward to 1999: Grace is 98 years old, and a young director is prodding her for answers, stirring up memories and secrets.


Wendy Wax's While We Were Watching Downton Abbey

Wendy Wax
While We Were Watching Downton Abbey
FIC WAX

Residents of an exclusive historic Atlanta building bond over "Downton Abbey." The weekly screenings, started by the concierge, Edward, connects a trio of tenants, all grappling with their own personal dramas.


Fay Weldon's The Habits of the House

Fay Weldon
Habits of the House (First book in the Love & Inheritance series)
FIC WELDON

Penned by the writer of the "Upstairs, Downstairs" pilot episode, Habits of the House follows the Dilberne household in 1899. Lord Robert, who has gambled away the family's fortune, decides to marry his son off to the daughter of a wealthy Chicago businessman. The servants, of course, have first-row seats to the theater that ensues.


Mystery

Charles Todd's Test of Wills

Charles Todd
A Test of Wills (Firs book in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series)
MYS TODD

This police procedural kicks off a post-WWI mystery series by mother-son duo Charles Todd. Ian Rutledge returns home from the Great War to his inspector job at Scotland Yard. The veteran grapples with what's now known as post-traumatic stress disorder while investigating a conspiracy surrounding the murder of a retired colonel.


Catriona McPherson's After the Armistice Ball

Catriona McPherson
After the Armistice Ball (First book in the Dandy Gilver series)
MYS MCPHERSO

In 1923 Scotland, Dandelion "Dandy" Gilver finds herself bored now that her husband's returned home from the war and her children are at school. So when a friend asks Dandy's to track down some diamonds stolen at an armistice ball, she finds the opportunity irresistible. But before long, the missing jewels leads to murder.


Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs

Jacqueline Winspear
Maisie Dobbs (First book in the Maisie Dobbs series)
MYS WINSPEAR / LP MYS WINSPEAR

The opening novel of the Maisie Dobbs mystery series is a mix of whodunit, romance and historical fiction. Maisie is an intrepid young English woman who's worked her way up from housemaid to wartime nurse and, now in 1929, private investigator. She begins her first case by investigating marital indiscretion but circumstances soon lead her to a veterans' convalescent home with an ominous past.


Nonfiction

Secrets of Highclere Castle

Secrets of Highclere Castle
DVD 728.81094227 SECRETS

Highclere Castle serves as the gorgeous estate that you always see in the exterior shots of the Crawleys' home, Downton Abbey. Highclere sits on 1,000 acres of parkland just west of London, and has been home to the Carnarvon family since 1679. Get a tour from the current Lord and Lady Carnarvon, George and Fiona Herbert, and learn what it takes to run a modern-day castle.


Jessica Fellowes' The World of Downton Abbey

Jessica Fellowes
The World of Downton Abbey
791.4572 FELLOWES

Fans get to go deeper into the Crawleys' world with on-set photographs, sketches from the production team and commentary on the story and characters. Historical context further fleshes out the drama, touching on everything from fashion to family life, the upstairs-downstairs divide to the changing social mores. Jessica Fellowes, a journalist and niece of "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes, penned this companion book.


Alison Light's The World of Downton Abbey

Alison Light
Mrs. Woolf and the Servants: An intimate history of domestic life in Bloomsbury
920 LIGHT

Virginia Wolf made a name for herself as a feminist with A Room of One's Own but she relied on live-in maids and cooks just like everyone else in the British upper class. Author Alison Light paints a portrait of Woolf's domestics and her relationship with them and then explores how that dynamic manifested in Woolf's writing.


Adam Hochschild's To End All Words

Adam Hochschild
To End All Wars: A story of loyalty and rebellion, 1941-1918
940.341 HOCHSCHI

Author Adam Hochschild pairs a history of the War to End All Wars with spotlights on some of the conflict's fiercest British proponents and critics. The human scope and cost of the war becomes apparent through the individual stories of these hawks and doves.


Catherine Bailey's The Secret Rooms

Catherine Bailey
The Secret Rooms: A true story of a haunted castle, a plotting duchess, and a family secret
941.082092 BAILEY

Historian Catherine Bailey had intended to write a book about the Ninth Duke of Rutland's 1,700 tenants and their exodus to fight in WWI. But when given access to his papers — sealed since his death in 1940 — she discovers three periods in his life that he intentionally erased from his records. She sets out to uncover his secrets and in doing so, paints an unvarnished look at aristocracy from the Edwardian period.


Peter Englund's The Beauty and the Sorrow

Peter Englund
The Beauty and the Sorrow: An intimate history of the First World War
940.30922 ENGLUND

Watch World War I unfold through the eyes of those who lived it. Swedish historian Peter Englund immerses readers in the quotidian experiences of war by weaving together the letters and journal entries of 20 people from a myriad of ages, perspectives, walks of life, and nationalities.


Juliet Nicolson's The Perfect Summer

Juliet Nicolson
The Perfect Summer: England 1911, just before the storm
942.083 NICOLSON

Season 1 of "Downton Abbey" opens in April 1912 and from the opening scene, already you can tell great change lurks on the horizon. Juliet Nicolson's The Perfect Summer, which examines England's summer of 1911, fleshes out those simmering political and social tensions: a new king, a self-indulgent aristocracy, industrial strikes, women's rights and more all about to come to a boil.


Margaret Powell's Below Stairs

Margaret Powell
Below Stairs: The classic kitchen maid's memoir that inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey"
B POWELL

Margaret Powell gives us a view from downstairs in her memoir about her years starting at age 13 as a kitchen maid and, later, a cook. Originally published in 1968 in the United Kingdom, Powell details the long days, copious duties and range of employers (not all as magnanimous as Lord and Lady Grantham) of a household servant with honesty and wit.


TV shows

Upstairs, Downstairs

"Upstairs, Downstairs"
DVD TV UPSTAIRS

A surefire hit for "Downton Abbey" fans: "Upstairs, Downstairs" revolves around 165 Eaton Place, home of the Bellamy family and their hired help, during the first 30 years of the 20th century. Patriarch Richard Bellamy is a member of Parliament and his wife, a member of the titled aristocracy. Their Scottish butler, Hudson, oversees the other attendants and helps keep all in order. The TV show aired from 1971 to 1975.


Parade's End

"Parade's End"
DVD TV PARADES

This HBO miniseries, based on the series of novels by English writer Ford Madox Ford, stars Benedict Cumberbath (of “Sherlock” fame) as Christopher Tietjens, an old-school civil servant who finds himself saddled to Sylvia, a reckless socialite. Further complicating matters is his attraction to Valentine Wannop, a local suffragette, as well as his military service and eventual deployment to the Front.