Book Review: Downton Abbey: A Celebration by Jessica Fellowes

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey

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Suffering Downton Abbey withdrawal symptoms already? Need a fix to fill the glaring gap left by the end of the final series? Here’s the perfect antidote… the ultimate companion to six years of TV heaven!

This truly sumptuous, glossy review of all six spectacular series is the next best thing to watching every episode again.

Packed with gorgeous illustrations, Downton Abbey: A Celebration explores the multiple award-winning ITV period drama through the stars, their stories and the fabulous locations as we share life at home with the Crawley family and peep behind the green baize door of the servants’ quarters.

As Downton Abbey’s creator, writer and executive producer Julian Fellowes remarks in his foreword to this stunning book, the last six years has felt like ‘a magic carpet ride,’ and he certainly swept millions off their feet with his exciting blend of romance, intrigue, drama and British class traditions.

Since the moment we first entered Downton Abbey in 1912, the nation has been hooked and as 1925 dawns at the big house and the cast prepare to take the final bow in the Christmas special, here is the chance to once more experience their tumultuous times.

Author, journalist and public speaker Jessica Fellowes leads us through the house and estate, reliving the iconic moments of the wonderfully aristocratic Crawley family and their servants as they navigate the emerging modern age.

The original idea of the series was, says Julian Fellowes, to showcase a period of British history ‘with one foot among the Victorians and the other set firmly in the age of jazz and movies and air travel and, above all, change.’

To this end, the home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, Highclere Castle in Hampshire, with its magnificent Victorian Gothic architecture, was chosen as the backdrop for a drama starring a grand, established and fearless family facing changes that will rock its foundations.

From the great hall, with its extravagant statements of heritage and riches, through the more feminine drawing room with its pale pink sofas and delicate Meissen china to the elegant dining room, the hub of the house, this wonderful book revisits a multitude of Downton dramas.

Who can forget Matthew and Isobel Crawley arriving for the first time, the death of Turkish diplomat Kemal Pamuk in Lady Mary’s bed, Cora’s tragic miscarriage, Edith’s affair with Michael Gregson, Mary’s new haircut, Thomas and O’Brien’s scheming, Anna and Bates’ troubles with the law, and Carson’s marriage to Mrs Hughes?

Take a look inside the servants’ hall where the staff relax and eat their meals together, get a glimpse of Mrs Hughes’ sitting room where the loyal housekeeper lets down her guard, and step into Mr Carson’s butler’s pantry where he decants the port and stores the valuable silver.

There are also fascinating in-depth interviews with the cast, fabulous location shots and stills from all six series, exclusive behind-the-scenes photography and full episode guides.

This beautiful celebratory book, packed with memories to treasure forever, is the ideal gift for Downton fans young and old... or the must-have addition to your own Christmas wish list!

(Headline, hardback, £25)