Tag Archives: Downton Abbey

WWI Read: Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Book # 5 in the War Through the Generations WWI reading challenge: Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle.

I was on the fence about whether or not I wanted to read this one. I knew it wouldn’t really have anything to do with Downton Abbey. What tipped the balance? This review on Amazon:

 … did not think the book would be 3/4 about war war war and her nursing abilities.

And I was all: Sold! Because that’s exactly what I wanted to read about. This is also why authors shouldn’t sweat the negative reviews. That being said, there’s controversy in some of the other reviews about how sanitized this version of Lady Almina’s life happens to be.

I suspect there might be some truth to this. The narrative is fairly scandal free, the author glossing over the fact Lady Almina remarries in the same year Lord Carnarvon dies and only briefly mentions the court case she becomes involved in (see Wikipedia for more info).

However, I did enjoy learning more about what went into running a private hospital during WWI and the problems encountered. Although in Lady Almina’s case, she solved a great many of these problems by throwing money at them–which seems to have been her SOP. Also fascinating was the time the narrative spent on the Earl’s interest (more like an obsession) in Egyptology. I hadn’t realized he was Howard Carter’s backer, and that together they discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

Was the read worth it? From my point of view, yes. If you already know a bit about WWI, you won’t learn a lot here. And of course, the narrative doesn’t contain swoon-worthy scenes between Matthew and Mary or one liners delivered by Dame Maggie Smith. However, it is an interesting look at a certain strata of British society before, during, and after the war.

And just because the book doesn’t have any Maggie Smith doesn’t mean this blog post will go without. Enjoy.


Filed under Book Review, Books, Reading, War Through The Generations

Because I’m missing Downton Abbey

Don’t be defeatist, dear. It’s very middle class.

So I totally glommed Downton Abbey over spring break with the kids (although the kids, they did not glom Downton Abbey–in fact, my Downton Abbey addiction completely escapes them).

I’m posting this since Maggie Smith gets all the good lines. That being said, my favorite is not in this compilation.

I think my favorite (so far) must be:

Sir Richard: Do you enjoy these games in which the player must appear ridiculous?

Lady Violet: Sir Richard, life is a game in which the player must appear ridiculous.

I’m thinking I may have to do a mid-year re-watching of seasons one and two. Just because.

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Fifty/Fifty check in: week 8 and 9

I didn’t bother with last week’s Fifty/Fifty check in, since all I finished was Rita book #6. So again, I’m giving you a two for one.

Not movies, again–sadly. However, I really want to see The Artist and Kyra want to see The Secret World of Arrietty. The trick is making that happen. In the meantime, I’ve still manage to read and watch a few things.


How to Be a Writer: Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play by Barbara Baig

I “bought” a copy of this for my Kindle during a promotion last year. I say “bought” because I think it was actually free at the time or 99 cents. Either way, an excellent deal. Have you always wanted to write but don’t know where to start–as in, literally, no idea. This is the perfect book.

I really like the emphasis on deliberate practice and using writing to learn how to write. This isn’t a book where you learn point of view or fantasy world-building, but it will get you writing. Even though I’ve been writing for a while, I never refuse helpful hints and techniques. I really love the idea of the zero draft (will be using that a lot more as I go forward) along with some excellent tips for doing “required writing” (again, spot on).

In fact, even if you’re not a writer, but need to do some “required” type writing for work or school, I really recommend those chapters.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

A very interesting and detailed look at Germany between the wars, in particular 1933 – 1934, although the author takes us through 1938 and a bit beyond. I always enjoy this in-depth, personal view of historical events. I spent a lot of time in the car (this was one of my audio-reads) marveling at the things I didn’t know about this time period. Well worth the listen!

Rita Book #6

Rita Book #7

And there was much rejoicing! I finished this one on Friday evening and put the final score in on Saturday morning. Done and ahead of the deadline.


Not a movie, but I start in on the second season for Downton Abbey. I bought the DVD, not only so I could watch whenever I wanted to but for all the extras as well. This is my reward for making it through all the Rita reading.

That being said, during January and February this year I somehow managed to read 20 books! I think that should earn me a break for a few movies to round out my challenge.

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Filed under 50/50, Books, Reading, RWA, Writing, YA

Fifty/Fifty check-in: week 1

Well, week one of 2012, and I’m off to a pretty good start. If you stop in at the Fifty/Fifty site, you’ll see others are as well.


I started the New Year with a couple of special books.

The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry

This was the Kindle deal of the day on December 30th and I immediately downloaded it. I gobbled it up as the first book of the New Year, only slightly embarrassed that I haven’t read it before now. The book was the 1994 Newbery Medal winner and I look forward to sharing it with Kyra in a year or two.

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

I downloaded this novel in verse as soon as it was available on Kindle. A few years back, I was lucky enough to judge this book in manuscript form in a couple of writing contests. It was one of those entries that left me with that WOW feeling. It was so much fun to read it in its published form. Check out Sarah’s site for more information on novels in verse.


Gosford Park

I watched one movie this week, although it wasn’t easy. See yesterday’s post to find out why.

Despite the distractions, I enjoyed Gosford Park. I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to watch it. Actually, I can (again, see yesterday’s post).

My movie list this year will be a long parade of Really? You haven’t seen that? Embarrassing as this is, there’s an upside: think of all the good movies I can put on my list.

Looking forward to week two!

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Filed under 50/50, Books, Movies, Reading, YA