Book Talk

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey

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.

RIFers in book groups! Here’s a delightful pairing: read Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey and watch the hit PBS show Downton Abbey – sure to inspire a lively discussion! Check out this The New York Times article, “If You’re Mad for ‘Downton,’ Publishers Have Reading List,” for even more reading suggestions.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by the Countess of Carnarvon – Excerpt

Watch Downton Abbey, Season 2: Ep. 1 on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

Lady-CarnarvonLADY FIONA CARNARVON married the current Earl of Carnarvon in 1999, and they took over Highclere eight years ago.

RIFers! Do you watch Downton Abbey on PBS? Leave a comment with your thoughts! And enter for a chance to win a copy of Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey via Read It Forward on Facebook!

  • Molly Harris

    I have not watched the show yet, but am very intrigued by all of the comments I keep seeing about the show. I love history and this book, as well, as the show sound very interesting. I think I will have to check it out!

  • L Chapman

    I LOVE the series Downton Abbey! It was great to see the newest episode this past Sunday night on PBS. I have my DVR set to record it every Sunday night. I enjoy all of the characters, but my favorites are the butlers and the maids. It is interesting to see all of the behind the scenes drama. Please, please pick me to read this book!! Thanks so much for the opportunity!

  • Will Cross

    Book lovers may wish to know that in addition to “Lady Almina And The Real Downton Abbey..”…there is a much more controversial account of Almina’s nine decades of living in a book entitled “ The Life and Secrets of Almina Carnarvon.” “A Candid biography of the 5th Countess of Carnarvon of Tutankhamun fame.”

    Also from the same author, William Cross, FSA Scot, is “ Lady Carnarvon’s Nursing Homes : Nursing the Privileged in Wartime and Peace” which deals with Almina’s role as a uncompromising matron of Highclere Military Hospital during the Great War, and her later years running private hospitals in London. Many of Almina’s famous patients are revealed in these books. The testimony within these titles comes from the memories and recollections of one of Almina’s godsons, whose mother was Almina’s housekeeper and companion for over thirty years.

  • Patricia Mazzei

    This book sounds fascinating. Would love to read it.

  • Linda McFarland

    Love to read this historical romance book…sounds well researched…….

  • Laurie Thompson

    I watched it for the first time tonight and I loved it. I would love to read the book.

  • Chris Finklein

    I’ve read the book about Lady Almina and After rinishing the book, however, I am most curious how long Lady Almina lived and when she died, where and possibly why. I’ve been unsuccessful finding even dates to complete her story. An amazing woman on so many levels but I’m curious how long she lived.

  • Sara

    Just received this book in the mail! This is not usually the type of book I enjoy, but am trying to expand my literary horizons! I am looking forward to exploring this book.

  • Lisa W.

    Received the book in the mail today. Thanks for the opportunity to read it. I look forward to catching the series on television as I have read others have. Thanks again..

  • Admin Officer

    I heard about this book; looked it up and it would be interesting to see the “Real” Downton Abby. Reminds me of Consuelo Vanderbilt (Duchess of Marlborough) but with a nicer ending.

  • Joy

    Love the Downton Abbey series and I think this book sounds extremely interesting to read. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.