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Downton Abbey Read-Alikes

The cast of Downton Abbey

What do you do when your favorite show ends?

It’s heartbreaking when a favorite television series comes to an end. We’re left with feelings of loss after investing ourselves in the plot, characters and the world they inhabit.  Once your favorite show ends, nothing else you watch is going to feel like it fills the void.

I experienced this pang of sadness after the ending of the BBC Masterpiece Series, Downton Abbey. For those who have not seen the show, Downton Abbey, set in the fictional Yorkshire county estate between 1912 and 1926 depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants. Besides sharing the Crawley’s family drama – including scandalous romances and financial challenges – the show depicts important historical events of the time period. This includes the news of the sinking of the Titanic, the outbreak of the First World War and the Spanish influenza pandemic. The creator, Julian Fellowes, researched tirelessly to ensure historical accuracies of the time period whilst keeping the plot dramatic and intriguing through six seasons.

The British historical drama was a favorite of mine – and many others. It received many accolades both in the United Kingdom and across the pond. The acting? Sublime. The costumes? Gorgeous. The romance? Don’t get me started… It was painful seeing it come to an end in 2015.

However, there is a solution, a Band-Aid of sorts to help us through these truly vexing times (as Grandma Violet would say). That is, to pick up a book with of the same genre. These select novels are filled with the same elements we loved about Downton Abbey: aristocracy, advantageous marriages, class conflict, and beautiful estates.  So brew yourself a cup of tea and enjoy these historical novels. Selections are arranged chronologically by publication date.

Menomonee Falls Public Library will be showing the feature-length Downton Abbey movie on Tuesday, February 15, at 2:15 PM. Seating is limited.  Please follow this link to register to reserve a seat.

At Summer’s End by Courtney Ellis (2021)

An ambitious female artists accepts a commission to spend a summer painting at a wealthy family’s estate in the 1920’s.

American Duchess: A Novel of Consuelo Vanderbilt by Karen Harper (2019)

Karen Harper tells the tale of Consuelo Vanderbilt, her “The Wedding of the Century” to the Duke of Marlborough, and her quest to attain independence—at any price.

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee (2019)

1890, Atlanta. By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel Caroline Payne, the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for ‘the genteel Southern lady.’ Categorized as a young adult novel, this book will appeal to readers of all ages!

American Royals by Katharine McGee (2019)

An alternate history novel where American won the Revolutionary ware, but still maintained a monarchy.  Two and a half centuries later, descendants of George Washington sit on the throne.  Categorized as a young adult novel, this book will appeal to readers of all ages!

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes (2016)

Julian Fellowes’s Belgravia is the story of a secret. A secret that unravels behind the porticoed doors of London’s grandest postcode. Set in the 1840s when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche, Belgravia is people by a rich cast of characters. But the story begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. At the Duchess of Richmond’s now legendary ball, one family’s life will change forever. Recently adapted into a television series.

Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir that Inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey by Margaret Powell (2012)

The true story of an English kitchen maid working in one of the great houses of England. Although her position was lowly, this indomitable woman never stopped aiming high. Below Stairs brilliantly evokes the long vanished world of masters and servants

Other recommended titles