Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Review: A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes

Pages: 320
Genre: Non-fiction
Pub. Date: October 28, 2014
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "It's 1924 and there have been many changes at Downton Abbey since the family and their servants first welcomed us there twelve years ago. A generation of men has been tragically lost at the front; children are once again breathing new life into the great house; a chauffeur now sits at the Grantham dinner table; and skirt hems continue to rise. Still, in the midst of all this upheaval, many things at Downton remain largely unchanged. Nanny still holds sway in the nursery, and there are still summer fetes to be organized, menus to be planned, and farms to be run.  This gorgeous book explores the seasonal events and celebrations of the great estate—including house parties, debutantes, the London Season, yearly trips to Scotland, the sporting season, and, of course, the cherished rituals of Christmas. Jessica Fellowes and the creative team behindDownton Abbey invite us to peer through the prism of the house as we learn more about the lives of our favorite characters, the actors who play them, and those who bring this exquisite world to real life.  A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey is packed full of exclusive new photographs, with a delicious array of traditional British recipes adapted for modern kitchens: kedgeree, orange marmalade, asparagus tarts, cream of watercress soup, Irish stew, lemon barley water, meringues with red berries, parmesan straws, Christmas pudding with brandy butter and more. From the moment when the servants light the fires against the chill of January, through the last family game of charades and the servants' Christmas ball, this magnificent book invites us to take part in twelve months in the life of Downton Abbey."
A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes is every Downton Abbey fan's dream come true. Not only are there gorgeous photographs throughout the book, there's also fun facts about the show as well as what life was like during the time period. And did I mention there are fantastic recipes?  What is so unique about this book is the fact that it focuses on each month of the year and details what life would be like at Downton during a particular month.

For example, January focuses on the year ahead and describes some of the New Year traditions that occur.  Fellowes even includes recipes that may be made during this month, such as Seville Orange Marmalade since Seville Oranges are only in season the weeks following Christmas and are prized amongst the English since the 17th century. 

A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey not only talks about historical facts of the time period as well as fictional facts from the show, but also details tidbits about being part of a show of this magnitude, such as a spotlight on Garreth Neame (executive producer), various props used in the show, and hair and makeup.  I also enjoyed reading more about the costumes, the music, as well as Alastair Bruce, the historical advisor. 

A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey also focuses on various traditions throughout the season, such as the month of May focuses on debutantes, June's focus is on the London Season, and November's focus is on the sporting season. December's focus was obviously Christmas, which was equally interesting, especially learning more about traditions of the time period cherished by not only the upstairs, but the downstairs as well. 

There are so many fabulous recipes that I want to try out. Here are some of my favorites: Irish stew (Branson's favorite), Asparagus Tart, Scones, Scottish Shortbread, and Brown Soda Bread (a favorite of Northern England, Scotland and Ireland). There are even cocktail recipes!

I can't say enough about the pictures in A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey. It's pure eye-candy for the hardcore Downton fan. I also noticed that many of the pictures are from season five as well as some quotes from the characters, which is interesting since season five is just showing now in the US.  So, it's sort of like a sneak peek!  

So, if you are a fan of Downton Abbey and are looking for a gorgeous book to grace your coffee table and one to peruse over with a hot cup of tea, look no further. 


10 comments:

  1. How cool is this? I wish I were into Downton Abbey. Such a good way for fans to immerse themselves into this world and era even more.

    Glad you enjoyed this one!

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    1. For hardcore fans like myself, it's a lot of fun! I love checking out all the incredible photos. Thanks for visiting, Joy!

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  2. I could go for scones right now Christina!!! Or soda bread. Anything bread-like really:) I still have yet to watch Downton Abbey which is ridiculous and something I really need to change. What a cool book this is!

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    1. I know, right?! I am always craving carbs when it's cold. I think you'd like Downton, Jenny. You should definitely check it out. Thanks for visiting!

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  3. I see the foreword was written by Julian Fellowes; how is the author related to him? That's so cool. We should just go live there, Christina. :) Hope you have a great weekend!

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    1. Yes! Jessica is his niece, I believe. She is also a writer. I would love it! hahaha…..Have a great weekend as well, Tara, and thanks for visiting!

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  4. I absolutely ADORE Downton Abbey, and I have two of the 'behind the scenes' type books but not this one! I would love to own this, thanks for bringing it to my attention! :)

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    1. No problem! I hope you get your hands on a copy…you'll love it. Thanks for visiting!

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  5. I want to add this to my collection. I got it from the library and started perusing it but didn't get the time to read it cover to cover before the holidays. I like this series of books and how they add to the experience of watching the show.

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    1. Yes! They definitely add something to the experience. I agree. I hope you get your hands on a copy soon, Christina. THanks for dropping by!

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