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Habits of the House Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged


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Habits of the House + Long Live the King (Habits of the House) + The New Countess (Habits of the House)
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Product Details

  • Series: Habits of the House (Book 1)
  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Unabridged edition (January 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1427228914
  • ISBN-13: 978-1427228918
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,342,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Before there was Downton Abbey, there was Upstairs, Downstairs, and, having written the first episode of that iconic television series, it is only fitting that Weldon now returns to the scene of the crime to further explore the disparate worlds of “them that has and those what serve ’em.” On the brink of the twentieth century, all is not well in the House of Dilberne. The earl has gambled away most of his patrimony and lost the remainder in an ill-timed investment. Inspired by his own fortuitous marriage to Isobel, daughter of a wealthy coal baron, his lordship’s only hope of saving the family bacon is to marry his son, Arthur, off to the daughter of an American businessman. What with Arthur’s predilection for a local trollop and preoccupation with experimental automobiles, this won’t be an easy task. Luckily, there’s a mansion’s worth of dubiously loyal maids, butlers, and cooks to conduct vital backroom negotiations. Always a ripe target for mockery and disdain, the British aristocracy comes in for a thorough drubbing in Weldon’s snarky send-up. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The first novel in beloved British writer Weldon’s new series launches with a hefty print run and all-out national marketing campaign carrying the banner, “Poised for Bestsellerdom.” --Carol Haggas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Settle in for a good, entertaining comedy of manners as Katherine Kellgren reads with all the appropriate accents.” – BookPage

 

“With a tony accent and wry humor, Katherine Kellgren narrates this story of an upper-class family on the verge of losing the life its members have always known…Written by the author of ‘Upstairs Downstairs,’ Habits of the House will delight fans of ‘Downton Abbey’ and those who enjoy dry wit coupled with excellent narration.” – AudioFile Magazine

 

“Narrator Kellgren creates distinct voices for all involved: servants, aristocracy and wealthy, title-seeing Americans.” – The Plain Dealer

 

“Habits of the House, an energetic story of the Dilberne family during a few months in 1899, is read at Gatling-gun speed and very effectively by Katherine Kellgren.” – The Winston-Salem Journal

 

“Narrator Katherine Kellgren creates an amazing variety of voices for the numerous characters both British and American…Kellgren captures the subtle humor and the satire in author Fay Weldon’s writing.” – Sound Commentary


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Customer Reviews

It's the first book of a trilogy due to be out in 2013, and I look forward to reading the remaining two volumes.
Sharon E. Cathcart
I didn't care if the family survived, I didn't care about the marriage prospects of Arthur or Rosina, and I didn't care about their parents.
Serena Witzke
The story definitely lacks something and could use a bit more character development to breath a little life into it.
S. G.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Rob Slaven TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I received this book as part of the GoodReads FirstReads program and it was one that I was fairly giddy to have won. As a fan of historical fiction generally and "Upstairs Downstairs" specifically I was more than ready to enjoy this one.

On the good side the book gives us a wonderfully open portrayal of the behavior of the landed class at the time. No secret is too dark, no behavior too perverse to be placed on display. We're introduced to some of the notable personages of the time and the scene is littered with tidbits of historical amusement from the Boer Wars to steam powered autos. Weldon also treats us to a myriad of period vernacular that causes us Midwestern types to scramble for our dictionaries. If nothing else it's worth reading just for the language. Organizationally the book's short (almost tiny) chapters are each date-headed and titled helping the reader keep track of a sometimes tangled chronology. This is the sort of book you can take in small bites if you need to and come back without losing much of the thread of the narrative.

On the other side, there's just not quite as much story as one would expect from a period piece. Readers who anticipate a Classical level of detail from this novel are bound to be disappointed. It is a novel very much boiled down to its nucleus, a traveling sideshow rather than a museum piece. Additionally, while our author uses some amusing bits of language they do at times seem forced and inconsistently timed. Her characters whip out a colorful phrase about every 20 pages and then revert to current standard English until it is once again time to find an appropriate period idiom to insert.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Anne M. Hunter VINE VOICE on November 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Clearly written to attract those of us who enjoyed Downton Abbey and
the new Upstairs Downstairs series, this is the first of a trilogy of
books by one of the writers (and a noted novelist) of the original "Upstairs Downstairs" Masterpiece Theater TV series from the 70s, and is set very much in the same world, right in Belgrave Square in 1899, as the Boer War is about to begin.

I kept wishing I were watching it instead of reading it, as excellent
British actors would have given me the conviction that these
characters had far richer inner lives than the author gives them.
Instead they are all, both servants and aristocrats, made to seem petty,
superficial, neurotic, shallow, silly, and occasionally vicious. There was
hardly a single person I could identify with or respect. The
predominant theme of the complete lack sexual virtue in supposedly
conservative Victorian times seems very tired. The servants were
mostly reacting to their masters' behavior, and not much involved in
their own stories. It made me long for Rose Buck and Lord Bellamy. I
imagine that one of John Hawkesworth's novelizations of Upstairs
Downstairs might be more engaging for those still longing to return to
that world, or possibly one of Margaret Powell's books, from which
that series was adapted, might be more satisfying.

Habits of the House is an easy read, and smoothly written, and I'm sure
there will be many who will find it enjoyable.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Serena Witzke VINE VOICE on December 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Crabby is definitely how I felt trying to slog through this pastiche of a late Victorian/Edwardian class drama. The premise sounded entertaining - another Downton Abbey/Upstairs Downstairs society novel, the drama of the season, a marriage of convenience, the lives of the staff supporting the drama above-stairs. What's not to like?

Everything, really.

I was put off within a few pages. The characters, both upstairs and downstairs, are obnoxious and unlikeable. The descriptions of the unclothed bodies of both adult children in the earliest chapters and the sexual advances between maid and master were jarring to someone expecting an authentic period drama in Victorian style. It reads like Henry James fan fiction! Though this is touted as 'the thing' for people craving a class drama fix while waiting for season 4 of DA, it misses the essence of what DA is: a gentle, satisfying melodrama with LIKABLE characters. Fay Weldon's creations fail to evoke anything other than disdain or mild revulsion in the reader, at least in my experience with this novel. I didn't care if the family survived, I didn't care about the marriage prospects of Arthur or Rosina, and I didn't care about their parents. The downstairs staff was wooden and uninteresting as well. After forcing myself through half of this book, I finally threw up my hands and admitted defeat. And then read some Henry James.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Vermeer fan VINE VOICE on December 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ah lovely Minnie. Elegant for an American, quiet, sensible and loaded to the gills with money. Almost enough money to overcome the story of how she cohabited with a painter several decades her senior back in Chicago that is circulating below stairs. Mama Tessa has brought Minnie to London to find her a husband, preferably one with a title, which plays so well for someone whose money was made in the slaughterhouses of Chicago.

And Arthur, son of the Earl of Dilberne, who main pursuits are to be always elegantly attired, to indulge his fascination with steam engines and to visit Flora. Lovely, blonde, limber Flora, whom he has set up in a small house so that he can avail himself of her services.

When the Dilberne's Jewish financial counselor Mr. Baum advises that their latest betting windfall has evaporated when the African mines they invested in where flooded by the Boers and the mounting bills can no longer be ignored, Lady Dilberne advises Arthur to marry. And to marry fast. A suitable list of ladies is drawn up with the help of Lady Dilberne's indispensable maid Grace and Minnie's name is included.

Thus the plot is launched for this series of three books by the author of "Upstairs, Downstairs" fame. Set at the end of Victoria's reign when the Prince is chomping at the bit for his crown, as unions and suffragettes are coming on the scene and the world is about to go topsy turvy, it should have plenty of material to draw from. If you enjoyed Downton Abbey or the original Upstairs, Downstairs, add this one to your reading list.
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