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The Real Life Downton Abbey Paperback – 24 Nov 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: John Blake Publishing (24 Nov. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843589559
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843589556
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Jacky Hyams is a freelance journalist and editor who regularly writes for the "Evening Standard."

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By SunshineGirl on 24 April 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this as a present for someone who was too polite to tell me that they gave up trying to read it. When I read it myself I found it to be historically inaccurate and really badly edited. It seems that no one did any fact checking so the author tries to pass off opinions as facts and to state personal theories as though they were proven practice. The chapters ramble a lot and dont seem to have any structure and the book itself doesn't so much come to a close as just peter out.

This Author must be thrilled to be getting a chance to cash in on the 'Downton' name but I suggest readers look elsewhere for a factual background.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Counterpoint on 10 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback
I cannot believe that a book with such a poor structure and apparent lack of editorial input could be published. The chapter and section headings are all over the place and sections are repeated only pages apart, in some cases contradicting each other.

I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the author submitted this to a publisher who quickly tossed it onto the 'reject' pile then, when Downton Abbey appeared on our screens, retrieved it, sprinkled about four references to characters in the show, changed the title and printed it without checking just how appalling it is.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kristin TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 May 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This isnt my usual type of read, but I picked it up on the kindle on an aimless day and was very glad I did. It does give some intriguing insights into the general life of servants around that era, and how they interacted with their lords and masters. I found some of it very amusing, especially the bit about the curlers (youll know what I mean when you get to it!).

Not one for a very in depth social analysis, but a well written light read with a more realistic view of what it was like to be a maid.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By R. Lou on 11 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
My young son bought this for me as a Christmas gift because he had seen me watching the TV programme, and thought I might enjoy it.
It was dire, it gave me the feeling that it had been written for a tabloid audience using old TV programmes and films as the main source of historical reference.
If you like this type of social history buy 'At Home: A short history of private life' by Bill Bryson instead.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dizzykitteh on 7 May 2013
Format: Paperback
Oh dear, what a complete trainwreck of a book!
I bought it in the hope I would get a decently informative book about what life in an Edwardian mansion would be like, but I got a book lacking in true facts and full of prejudice.
The writer is terribly biased (calling the wealthy owners of those grand country houses invariably 'the toffs' and 'the aristos' which really got on my nerves), and unabashedly taking the servants' side. She cannot stop complaining about how badly the servants are treated by those terribly pampered people upstairs, all the while contradicting herself by writing the servants had it pretty good compared to other poorer people. The nouveau-rich people get a decent press though, but those who are aristocratic or otherwise old money get no sympathy whatsoever (strange. I'd imagine a writer would at least sort of like the very people she writes a book about!)
Also and even more shockingly, she gets her facts wrong. Most cringe-worthy is when she calls Camilla Parker Bowles the Princess of Wales. Apart from that she quite clearly knows of only one big ocean liner of the time (although she mentions a few others once), unsurprisingly it's Titanic (invariably called the 'tragic' or 'ill-fated' Titanic -- we KNOW what happened!), most probably because it's the one ship of the time she needs no research for: the movie will do.
Also, there were other fashion houses than just Worth - and the House of Worth was not the first couturier, nor the only one. Truly, the mistakes go on and on.
Don't buy this book unless you want any 21st century prejudices about that era neatly confirmed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Janet M. on 8 April 2013
Format: Paperback
Being Downton obsessed, I enjoyed all the information about the setting and day to day life; however, there are two mistakes about Downton characters. Twice the Dowager Countess, Maggie Smith's character, is referred to as the Dowager Duchess. And Richard Carlisle is called Richard Branson. Oops!

Other than that I did enjoy this book and do recommend it for Downton Abbey fans.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Prometheus on 29 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Venom of class envy is dripping from every page of this book. Most notably, Jacky Hyams' frequent use of the term 'toffs' and lots of mean personal remarks clearly indicate that she is incapable of making a credible contribution to her chosen topic. There might be nothing wrong with left-wing views in general; however, a book on social history should be written by someone who is capable of a well-balanced and fair representation of the era and its people. Jacky Hyams clearly is no such person.

I have a strong suspicion that Ms Hyams thinks socialism rather appealing since she dreams about 'classless society' (Introduction, xiii). In the real world there is no such thing as 'classless society'; there never was and never will be. Having grown up in East Germany (then GDR) under socialist rule, I have seen it. We had three official classes; the workers [Arbeiter], farmers [Bauern] and academics [Intelligenz]. These terms were officially - and frequently - used, for example at school, to distinguish between pupils' respective background. Now, I wonder what Ms Hyams would make of that.

What is worse, the author is as clueless about Downton Abbey as she is about the mechanisms of society. One gets the feeling that she has never actually watched the series, or has done any research in preparation for this book. How else would one explain the many gross mistakes revealing Hyams' ignorance?

I found eleven references to the Downton Abbey series in the book. Seven of these are either plainly wrong or, in my opinion, misinterpreted. Most notably, the author speaks of the Dowager Countess of Grantham as 'Duchess of Grantham' (Introduction, xii), 'Dowager Duchess of Grantham' (p. 10) and 'Dowager Duchess of Crawley' (p. 206).
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