Downton Abbey is over?! Now what do I do??

da coverSeason 5 of Downton Abbey is over. Season 6 is in production, but doesn’t have a release date. What are we supposed to dooo?? If you’re wondering just what you should read next or watch next so you keep the Downton spirit, never fear! One of our librarians has created a guide to help you find something similar called “If You Like Downton Abbey…”. Click through to explore.

If you’re new to Downton Abbey, this guide lists all the seasons available within the library, as well as books about the show and music from the different seasons. Downton Abbey on TV lists the seasons and other related materials the library owns.

Maybe you’re interested in finding out more about the history of Downton Abbey and other English homes in general. Did you know that the Downton Abbey estate is an actual place called Highclere Castle? Lady Cora is also based upon the Lady Almina, the Countess of Carnarvon, who lived at Highclere Castle. Check out the Downton History and Castles portion of the guide to learn more!

This guide also features a nonfiction section about downstairs and upstairs lives, another section with novels similar to Downton Abbey(this page also lists parodies and a graphic novel version!), as well as other related television shows and movies. Stroll through this guide and find something to tide you over until Downton Abbey season 6 comes back on the air.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle

lady alminaAre you interested in finding out more about Downton Abbey? Do the characters intrigue you? The surroundings? If the answer is yes to any of those questions, check out Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle.

Lady Almina tells the story of Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration for the hit PBS show, Downton Abbey. This book follows the life of Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon, who just happens to be the basis for the Lady Cora Crawley on PBS’s Downton Abbey. The author of this book, the current Countess of Carnarvon, intersperses actual pictures and documents from the Highclere archive with the family’s passed down memories to map out the story of the castle and its inhabitants on the brink of World War I. The marriage of Lady Almina and the Earl of Carnarvon was seen by some as a way to keep the castle afloat monetarily, given the scandal surrounding Lady Almina’s birth, her biological father’s vast wealth, and the Earl of Carnarvon’s many expensive trips around the world. Lady Almina’s will to always get her way, the support of her rich industrialist father Alfred de Rothschild(who just never could tell her no), her husband’s desire to never see her upset, combined with her large body of charity work, led her to transform the high society atmosphere of Highclere Castle into a hospital for wounded soldiers during World War I. Take a look into this book to gain a better understanding of life in England during World War I, as well as life of the real people of Downton Abbey.

This book is also available as an eBook and an audiobook through the library catalog.

Watch a Little TV with Me: America’s Most Watched Television Shows Available at Your Local Library

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Last summer TV Guide released an article titled America’s Most Watched: The Top 50 Shows of the 2013-2014 TV Seasonand as you may have guessed it included a list of the 50 most watched TV shows last year. I thought it would be interesting to weigh the DPL video collection against what America is watching. Are we keeping our finger on the remote of the Nation?

As a rule I do not believe in suspense, so we are going straight to the top! The Big Bang Theory was named the top TV show of the 2013/2014 season based on number of viewers per episode according to TV Guide. At this point I have to ask myself, how have I never watched this show!? Honestly settling in to a Big Bang marathon has been in the back of my mind for quite some time. But I just keep putting it off because it isn’t on Netflix yet. Well guess what? It is season eight and it is still not available on Netflix yet it continues to be one of the most talked about shows on television. So I am taking matters into my own hands and utilizing the best free source of entertainment in the Quad Cities!

The Davenport Library did not disappoint me. There is a copy of the first season of The Big Bang Theory available at each library location. Further yet, Eastern and Main have complete seasons on the shelves! Perhaps that is a bit deceiving, since this show is incredibly popular you will likely need to place a hold as I did, but the wait on older seasons is usually a short one.

Enough about Big Bang, let’s look at the rest. Out of the 50 titles the Davenport Libraries carry 34 titles. You may be wondering why we don’t have them all. TV Guide rated all television programs, which includes live events and reality TV. However out of the 36 purchasable titles, we do own 34. While I won’t list all 34 of them, I will review some of my favorites.

The Walking Dead on AMC is ranked 4th on the TV Guide list and that is a well deserved place mark. About a year ago, I decided it was about time I get on The Walking Dead bandwagon and see what all the fuss was about. Zombies have never really appealed to me, but when a show hits a certain level of popularity you just have to watch at least one episode. While some fans may tune in for guts and gore, most of us have found ourselves relating to the show on a human level. The writers of this show excel at getting the audience to feel exactly what these characters are feeling. We all know zombies aren’t real, but we can understand and identify with the intense emotions of love, friendship, triumph, and loss. This show oozes all of those with every episode. There have been many times that I found myself at a loss for words as my heart breaks and soars for these characters. Full seasons available at Eastern and Main.

 Downton Abbey from PBS came out of nowhere and has exploded in popularity in the U.S. I’ll admit when this show jumped on my radar, I was quick to check out the first two seasons of this show because I have a deep love of historical fiction and period pieces. Downton is a world of it’s own. Each week we are transported back in time to the days of servants and masters, carriage rides and afternoon tea. What really makes this show a hit, is the strength of it’s characters. There are so many different personalities and story lines there seems to be someone for everyone. At the very least you will feel smarter each week as you learn a little more about upper class England in the early 1900’s. Sound like something you would like? All three libraries have multiple copies of each season, with the current airing season available soon.

Once Upon a Time broadcast on ABC is something the entire family can watch and enjoy. This year it seems I haven’t had much time for live TV, and this show was starting to pile up on my DVR. With more free time over the holidays, I started watching this season’s episodes with my six year old daughter and eight year old son. They are hooked! Now whenever we have a free hour together, we pile on the couch and play the episodes from this season. While my children are just tuning in, I have been a Once Upon a Time fan from the beginning, finding the pretense genius. All of your favorite fairy tale characters and their perspective stories weaved together with a present day twist. Each week brings something new to the stories we have all heard time and time again. What I like best about this show is that a traditional fairy tale villain can be a hero, and well known heroes can be villains. You never know who is going to be good and who will be bad when a new character is introduced. What you can always count on from this show is that good will always win in the end and true love conquers all.

Minding the Manor by Mollie Moran

minding the manorBorn in 1916 in Norfolk, Mollie Moran is one of the few people still alive today who can recall working “downstairs” in the golden years of the early 1930’s before the outbreak of WWII. She provides a rare and fascinating insight into a world that has long since vanished in Minding the Manor: the Memoir of a 1930s English Kitchen Maid.

Mollie left school at age fourteen and became a scullery maid for a wealthy gentleman with a mansion house in London’s Knighsbridge and a Tudor manor in Norfolk. Even though Mollie’s days were long and grueling and included endless tasks, such as polishing doorknobs, scrubbing steps, and helping with all of the food prep in the kitchen, she enjoyed her freedom and had a rich life. Like any bright-eyed teenager, Mollie also spent her days daydreaming about boys, dresses, and dances. She became fast friends with the kitchen maid Flo, dated a sweet farmhand, and became secretly involved with a brooding, temperamental footman. Molly eventually rose to kitchen maid for Lord Islington and then cook for the Earl of Leicester’s niece at the magnificent Wallington Hall. (description from publisher)

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

Charles Todd’s A Duty to the Dead (the first mystery in the Bess Crawford series) has far too much life and vigor for the god-awful cover design it’s been dealt. It’s really a hideous cover: the image, the colors, the fonts, they’re all drab and uninteresting. But if you can look past them, this is an engaging mystery novel with a heroine anyone would love.

Bess Crawford is a gentleman’s daughter and an Army nurse in the Great War (if you’re thinking of Lady Sybil Crawley right now, you’re not alone!). She’s injured when the hospital ship Britannic is sunk, and during her convalescent leave, she visits the family of Arthur Graham, a wounded soldier she befriended, to deliver the deathbed message he begged her to pass on to his brother. What she finds in the Graham hometown of Owlhurst is a web of secrets and lies that the all-too-British neighbors have happily swept under the rug while they keep calm and carry on.

Bess is in-demand in Owlhurst for her nursing skills, and before long she is pressed into duty caring for a shell-shocked soldier and a possible lunatic. The effect of witnessed horrors and repressed violent memories on the mind is a big part of this novel, which is as much psychiatric as it is suspenseful. In a time when mental health was imperfectly understood, Bess’s intuitively modern understanding of the way our brains work is a mark in her favor.

While you’re waiting (and waiting… and waiting … ) for Downton Abbey to come to US shores next January, this novel can help fill the gap. Its shared setting, dealings with the same issues (the affect of the war on families back home), and the similarities between Sybil and Bess will keep you in the mindset of Downton while you wait for season 3.