Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle MP3 CD – 5 Mar 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
In this sense is it is not so much a biography as telling of the events that had a great influence on the TV series Downton Abbey - this does not detract from the enjoyment in anyway for if you have seen the series you will recognise many of the events and characters that appear in the series. So don't buy the book if you are expecting an in depth biography of Almina, as there are other books that provide that, but see this book as a worthy complement to other books on her life.
The main attraction this volume offers is that it is written by the Countess of Carnarvon and as such there are anecdotes, photographs and events that only she and her family are privy to. I have read most of the books on Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon discovery of the the tomb of Tutankhamen but there are "behind the scenes" episodes in this book that have not been captured anywhere else. The story of the Earl's death in Cairo, is very well told and moving. The story of Highclere is also moving, when you think of the oppresive taxes that were levied on the landed classes after the war it is indeed a miracle that the house survived, and as Fiona observes, it was probably the longevity of the 6th Earl that preserved the house from attracting those ruinous inheritance taxes that were in place.
In summary a very well written and enjoyable read.
What irks is that it hardly amounts to Almina's half-life - and much of it is only half- told. And as the cut off point in time is 1924, the rest of Almina's life, of almost fifty years is abandoned. Almina's financial skulduggery, her offences against her own children and her carnal affairs (outlined in another recently published biography of the Countess) are, of course, not mentioned. Her relationship with Lord Carnarvon in this portrait lacks any kind of sure grasp of either personality. Both were complicated human beings. The Highclere ghost writer obviously could find nothing to say, and could not expose the truth that the parties were not in love or lovers and that they simply despised each other. Their near thirty-year marriage was the ultimate sham marriage.
There are some good elements to praise, individual soldiers' stories from Almina's term as the matron of Highclere Military Hospital and 48 Bryanston Square, a Royal Flying Corps hospital, during the Great War. It was noteworthy to read the names of a few of the surgeons who operated at Highclere and Bryanston Square hospitals. Whilst it was interesting-ish to read of the endless exploits of Carnarvon's half-sibling Aubrey and his wife Mary and the Dowager Elsie and the Burghcleres (Almina despised them all, except Aubrey, whom she loved and wanted instead of being saddled with the Earl), this alas greatly overshadows Almina's own story.Read more ›
The book is simply amazing and surpassed expectations. If you love the TV show Downton Abbey you will simply adore the book on Lady Almina and Highclere and want to know more about the Carnavon family and Highclere. I love the way it is written and easy to read with fabulous historical detail about the war, which I have to say, I did not know. I've also never been interested in historical accounts and am now considering finding something else along these lines (any suggestions welcome). I loved the facination Lord Carnavon had with Egypt and would have liked more detail, but I guess there is only so much you can put in one VERY VERY readable and thoroughly enjoyable book. I hope the Countess of Carnavon has read the reviews and taken the comments on board and might well be considering putting pen to paper again! Although I guess its very hard work! I just finished this book in time to watch the next series of Downton Abbey coming soon. Sept 2012.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this for my wife so she could read about the REAL DOWNTON ABBEY. SHE GREATLY ENJOYED IT .Published 4 months ago by Michael
ANOTHER BOOK FOR MY FRIEND AND SHE LOVED IT SO WILL LOOKED FORWARD TO READING IT TOOPublished 6 months ago by house elf