This book is absolutely fabulous. I think other readers who have dismissed this book as being 'light reading' simply don't get it. The book is highly readable, yes, but the writing is insightful, generous and bang on. Fay Weldon's writing doesn't pander and cleaves to the truth, and because of that, she's very funny, very giving and very smart.
And, too, Fay Weldon wrote for Upstairs Downstairs, the incredibly popular tv series that Downton Abbey emulated.
Weldon, writer of the pilot episode of Upstairs, Downstairs, introduces readers to the Earl of Dilberne's household in the fall of 1899. Alas, all is not ordered nor financially well in his rented London home at 17 Belgrave Square. The earl's investment in a South African gold mine is lost to flooding and the Boer War, his son has run up huge bills with his tailor and courtesan, and his daughter refuses to marry and is active in social causes. When a Chicago heiress with a less than discretionary past appears on the scene as an answer to the earl's financial woes, the shenanigans begin with both the upper class family and the servants who share their world. With sly wit and a great stirring of many pots, Weldon shares a now-vanished world with readers. Books 2 and 3, Long Live the King and The Last Countess, complete her trilogy. This book is the May 2017 selection of the Willa Cather Book Club.
Weldon is either capitalizing on the Downton Abbey craze or writing a new series for television on Edwardian England. It is written with some wit but is light and not memorable. A guilty pleasure!
Part One of Weldon?s trilogy introduces us to the a somewhat clichéd upper class British family?both upstairs and down?at the turn of the 20th century, short on cash, feeling change in the air, restless in many ways. Enter Minnie O?Brien, wealthy heiress from Chicago with ideas of her own, and the story gets more interesting.
Weldon introduces a lot of characters and gives plenty of historical contexts, all written in an easy, breezy way that made this fun reading. I?m sure I?ll have all the downstairs staff figured out by the time I?ve finished the next installment!
Slow, slow, slow! Maybe shouldn't read it at bedtime.
Diverting until you get your next Downton Abbey fix. Nice descriptions of clothing & salient details that only a woman would notice, but too sentimental & not enough about the servants.
Delightful story illustrating the societal strata in late 1800's using two families, one from England, one from the U.S. If you like Downton Abbey you will enjoy this.
The first in a trilogy about an aristocratic family in Edwardian England - shades of Downton!
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