Book wishes

There is a cottage industry of books about/inspired by/vaguely related to PBS’ hit British Edwardian soap opera Downton Abbey. A sampling includes: The World of Downton Abbey (St. Martin’s, 2011); The Real Life Downton Abbey: How Life was Really Lived in Stately Homes (John Blake, 2012); The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook (Adams Media, 2012). Amid so many reading options, the most appealing is the one that holds the best claim to the word “real.” Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle (Broadway, 2011) is written by the Countess of Carnarvon, a.k.a. the actual heir to the actual castle where the TV series is filmed. In this book, Countess Carnarvon writes a biography of her ancestor Lady Almina, who was the inspiration for the character Lady Cora Crawley. We just hope that the contemporary Countess inherited writing chops along with her title.

Suggested Next Read

Weaver of Dreams and Nightmares

Music

Weaver of Dreams and Nightmares

By Jarret Keene

It was an eventful week for Natalie Merchant politically, which isn’t surprising. For 30 years she has been an activist and written environmental songs such as “Poison in the Well” for her old rock band 10,000 Maniacs. Merchant had just returned from an anti-fracking rally with 2,000 protesters—among them legendary folk singer Pete Seeger. They attended New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address to make their voices heard on the issue of shale gas drilling. But Merchant is quick to stress a connection between her activism and her music.

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