Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era by Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis

The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era by Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis

Release Date:
November 13, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Press


The Great War has ended, but Downton Abbey is far from peaceful...

As Season 3 of the award-winning TV series opens, it is 1920 and Downton Abbey is waking up to a world changed forever by World War I. New characters arrive and new intrigues thrive as the old social order is challenged by new expectations.

In this new era, different family members abound (including Cora's American mother, played by Shirley MacLaine) and changed dynamics need to be resolved: Which branch of the family tree will Lord Grantham’s first grandchild belong to? What will become of the servants, both old and new?

The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, carefully pieced together at the heart and hearth of the ancestral home of the Crawleys, takes us deeper into the story of every important member of the Downton estate. This lavish, entirely new book focuses on each character individually, examining their motivations, their actions, and the inspirations behind them. An evocative combination of story, history, and behind-the-scenes drama, it will bring fans even closer to the secret, beating heart of the house.

*Today's post is a departure from my typical YA features. I am a huge Downton Abbey fan. It is killing me to wait for the start of Season 3 on PBS, especially when I know that it's already aired in the UK. But I'm being a good girl and have not looked at any spoilers.

I know that I'm far from the only person anxiously awaiting the return of Downton Abbey. In the meantime, check out this great new book showing us tons of details about the story and the making-of Downton Abbey.

Check out this Q and A with one of the authors Jessica Fellowes!

Edwardian fashion has been resurrected on runways and in style magazines. What else has surprised you about the popularity of the show?

I think no one could have anticipated the way it's become such a cultural reference point not just in Britain and America but all over the world. 'Dowager gems' is a well-known Twitter hashtag. I don't think Julian could have predicted that!

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes' great-aunt Isie is the model for Violet Grantham. Are any of the other characters based on anyone notable or otherwise?

As any writer does, he has drawn on different people he has met or known over the years. O'Brien is based on a particularly mean lady's maid that used to work for a cousin of his grandfather. She was, he says, "as polite as courtier, but she had a black heart, cold and manipulative", driving away all her mistress's friends and family until she alone ruled their Knightsbridge house. Others, are taken more lightly from people he has known – Thomas is based on a dresser from his theatre days; Carson on a wonderful butler, Arthur Inch, who was an advisor on Gosford Park.

What is your favorite episode or scene from the first two seasons of Downton Abbey and why?

Ooh, that's not easy to answer! I'm a blubber – I cry at the readthrough, when I see it on the television, and then again when watching it on DVD! I think the war scenes were striking, and I was pleased, if that's the right word, that current generations would realise what our grandparents and great-grandparents had gone through. But who can possibly forget the final scene of the second series – Matthew and Mary, kissing and happy at last, as the snow fell around them. Aah!

What was the greatest challenge you faced when writing this book? What was the most fun?

The greatest challenge was probably the timing. Both books were not started until January and were at the printers by July. Given that we had to interview actors and production, go on set, research the period, source the images – photography had to be done alongside the filming – as well as actually write it, this was something of a challenge, but one I was happy to rise to. The most fun for me was definitely the research – it's a period that has always fascinated me, so to have the excuse to immerse myself in it completely was wonderful.

Which character do you think has evolved the most during the course of the first two seasons?

Lady Edith for me is the most interesting. She, like a lot of women at that time, was brought up to expect a certain kind of life, which was completely turned inside out by the war. She thought that all her prayers would be answered in the shape of a husband – marriage was what gave Edwardian aristocratic women freedom, independence and a certain kind of power. Without that, she has to find her own way and it's not as if everyone then moves with the times – nearly everything she chooses to do has to be fought for. It's a lesson to us now to be thankful of what we have and to use it in the best way possible.

*Thanks to Jessica and Wunderkind-PR for letting me tell you more about The Chronicles of Downton Abbey!

*Want more information about The Chronicles of Downton Abbey? Check out these links:
Book Preview!
Buy It!

Are you a Downton Abbey fan?

What was your favorite episode of Seasons 1 and 2?

My favorite was the last episode of Season 2 - the Christmas episode. Followed closely by a scene in an episode or two before that where Mary and Matthew danced.


  1. Is this book based on the tv show? I have not heard of the book. Nice interview :)

  2. I love Downton Abbey. I've contemplated watching season 3 online so I don't have to wait until January. But, I haven't done it yet.

    I don't remember everything that happened in the episodes because it's been so long. But, I love so many things that I don't think I could choose, lol.

  3. I am a big Downton Abbey fan but unlike you, I couldn't stay away from looking up the spoilers so I know what happens in Season 3 (except for the Christmas special which hasn't aired yet).

    My favorite episode would be a tie between the Season 2 Christmas special and the episode before it (though lots of sad stuff happens).

  4. This is a great series! I've only made it through season 2 -- I get to watch season 3 over winter break, when I finally have some time to relax. Love that there's a book out about it!

  5. Yep, that's my favorite episode, too! The last episode of S2 with Matthew and Mary. I love DA. It's so awesome. :)

  6. I love Downton Abbey! S2 christams special was my favourite episode, too. Interesting interview! Thanks for sharing!

  7. I love Downton, too! It's such a good show and S3 is good, you won't be disappointed when it finally airs!

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