15 Books To Read Now That 'Downton Abbey' Is Over
After six seasons and nearly 13 in-show years, Downton Abbey has finally ended. Without spoiling the series finale, suffice it to say that creator Julian Fellowes managed to give fans a cheerful conclusion to the television phenomenon, without the gut-wrenching tragedies that have befallen the cast over the last several years.
For many Downtonians, the show's departure leaves a void in their television schedule. As soon as the credits rolled on that last episode, my mother turned to me and said, "We have to have a Downton Abbey marathon soon." Too soon? Maybe, and yet no, not at all.
Aside from Upstairs, Downstairs and miniseries like Brideshead Revisited, we just haven't had a show that hit on all the same notes as the Masterpiece Theater drama. Class warfare, manners comedy, the ever-closer march of progressive values on the British aristocracy — all of these things gave Downton Abbey the genteel edge we yearned for.
If you're feeling the sting of Fellowes' abandonment, check out the 15 books below to get your fix. No, they aren't Downton Abbey, but they'll give you another good taste of England and the U.S. in the 1910s and '20s. This list is by no means exhaustive, so please share book recommendations with your fellow Downtonians on Twitter.
1. Life Below Stairs by Alison Maloney
If you found yourself drawn more to the stories of the Crawleys' servants than the gentry themselves, check out Alison Maloney's Life Below Stairs for a look at how men and women in service really lived in the 1900s and '10s.
2. We That Are Left by Clare Clark
In Clare Clark's We That Are Left, sisters Jessica and Phyllis find their way of life undone by World War I and the family friend who comes to live in their library.
3. The Summer before the War by Helen Simonson
Set in 1914, Helen Simonson's The Summer before the War details the events that rock a tiny coastal town when a shockingly independent woman accepts an appointment to teach Latin to its youngsters.
4. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
In 1920, Hadley Richardson is living an ordinary life in Chicago when she meets Ernest Hemingway, who sweeps her off to have the Parisian adventures he would later recount in The Sun Also Rises.
5. The Memory of Lost Senses by Judith Kinghorn
When Cora, a countess with a dark and scandalous past, moves with her constant companion to the outskirts of a quiet country town, aspiring writer Cecily Chadwick finds herself drawn to the two women's company.
6. Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson
The First World War is all Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford needs to buck social mores and forge her own path as a member of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps.
7. The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West
A pair of restless and dissatisfied siblings star in Vita Sackville-West's 1930 tale of upper-crust life.
8. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by Fiona Carnarvon
In Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, author Fiona Carnarvon unearths the history of the remarkable 5th Countess of Highclere Castle: the basis for Fellowes' titular manor.
9. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Set three years after the close of World War I, Sarah Waters' The Paying Guests centers on a widow and her spinster daughter, who must rent out rooms in their large country home to make ends meet.
10. Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James
While Jo Manders works as a paid companion to her M.I.A. husband's aunt, she uncovers secrets about him and his family in this ghost story from The Other Side of Midnight author Simone St. James.
11. The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
In The American Heiress, Cora Cash is an American debutante who finds herself suddenly married off to a duke she barely knows.
12. Rose by Rosina Harrison
For the 35 years that followed her arrival in 1928, Rosina Harrison worked as a lady's maid to the temperamental and vivacious Lady Nancy Astor. This is her story.
13. Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse by Faith Sullivan
As a widowed mother in early 20th century America, Nell Stillman has to work hard to make ends meet, but her love of books — particularly P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves novels — makes everything a little bit brighter.
14. A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams
Theresa, a married socialite, and her younger partner, Octavian, are madly in love, but a divorce would be ruinous for her. When Octavian is asked to help Theresa's brother-in-law with his proposal to a girl from an up-and-coming family, however, he finds himself falling for her instead.
15. The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes
Julian Fellowes' niece is the pen behind this nonfiction Downton Abbey tie-in. With behind-the-scenes looks at how the Masterpiece series was made, and research notes from the crew, The World of Downton Abbey is a must-read for any fan.
Image: Carnival Film & Television/PBS