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323 of 331 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Companion Book
This book was released in the US earlier this week; I received my copy today and spent a couple of hours this afternoon looking through it. I wanted to review it right away in case anyone is considering buying it as a present for a Downton Abbey fan. It's a beautiful book and one that I'd have been thrilled to get as a gift. It's printed on thick, high quality paper and...
Published on December 9, 2011 by Jill

versus
112 of 137 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle edition is lacking and overpriced
I enjoyed this book and probably would have given it 5 stars if I had the print edition. I gave it one star to draw attention of those thinking of getting the Kindle edition. The photos are very low resolution. Even worse, the larger photos which spread over two pages in the print edition are split in half with a large space between them. There's really no excuse for this...
Published on January 24, 2012 by clarita apple


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323 of 331 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Companion Book, December 9, 2011
By 
Jill (California, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The World of Downton Abbey (Hardcover)
This book was released in the US earlier this week; I received my copy today and spent a couple of hours this afternoon looking through it. I wanted to review it right away in case anyone is considering buying it as a present for a Downton Abbey fan. It's a beautiful book and one that I'd have been thrilled to get as a gift. It's printed on thick, high quality paper and the photography is stunning. I would note that as Series 2 has not yet aired in the US, if you want to see the show without knowing anything in advance, some of the text is spoilerish here and there. The first instance that I found came at the end of Chapter 2, "Society." The photos are from both Series 1 and 2. There are also a number of "behind the scenes" photos. There are no extensive profiles of or interviews with the principal actors, if you are particularly interested in that, just short (1-2 sentence) snippets, and quotes now and again. There is some history to provide context for the fictional world of Downton (American heiresses marrying into the aristocracy, including Julian Fellow's inspiration for Cora, for example) as well as some information related to the series' production and filming. I did learn things from this that I hadn't heard before, and particularly enjoyed Julian Fellow's stories about ancestors of his who (unknowingly) inspired or gave him ideas for scenes and characters. Fans who have researched and read a lot about the Edwardian era will not likely learn anything new from the text, but I bought the book mainly for the photographs and information about the series, particularly so was not disappointed at all. In summary, I can't imagine any Downton fan not liking this book! The suggestions for further reading are good, though the section on life below stairs could be more extensive. I would second the recommendation of Juliet Gardiner's Manor House: Life in an Edwardian Country House (listed as The Edwardian Country House, its UK title) for anyone interested in the era's country house life - likewise very beautifully done.
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150 of 154 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To be in England, December 17, 2011
This review is from: The World of Downton Abbey (Hardcover)
This is a handsome book, whether or not you have seen the Downton Abbey series or not - it will make you want to. One can see how this series has enthralled and enchanted many.
It contains sections on family life, society, change, life in service, style, house and estate, romance, WWI and behind the scenes. The writer, Julian Fellowes pens an eloquent introduction that sums up the series and book perfectly..."the shadows of what used to be". A page of portraits introduces us to the characters.

This is a story not only of the filming, but a way of life - in fact two ways of life - the aristocracy and those in service. It is well explained, in an interesting manner, the difficulties and advantages both classes had. We learn how and why American heiresses became the wives of many of the English aristocracy and what the differences in philosophies of the two were.

The social history is described, again of both classes and why they behaved as they did. There are historical pictures and inserts that are relevant. We learn so completely what this period of Edwardian history was like and also how the filming of this series was accomplished. The creating of the costumes is thoroughly detailed. There are some comments from the actors themselves, but the star of this book is the era itself.

This is a book for Anglophiles, fans of Downton Abbey, those interested in English history especially of the Edwardian- WWI period and a social commentary on the English classes, It would be appropriate for anyone interested in filming and costume making also - a book that absolutely countless readers would enjoy.
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120 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant, thorough, & amazing!, December 23, 2011
This review is from: The World of Downton Abbey (Hardcover)
From the robin's-egg blue of the actual book, to the luminous dust jacket, to the fonts, and really, the entire book design, everything looks very elegant and Edwardian. If you've followed my blog Edwardian Promenade for a while, or read books about the Edwardians, some of the historical content isn't exactly new per se, but Fellowes does a great job of placing the cold, plain facts of the era in the context of Downton Abbey's inhabitants. The book kicks off with a forward by Julian Fellowes, where he discusses his philosophy towards the series and continues to share his deep love affair with the long-gone society that inhabited the English country house.

Fellowes (Jessica, that is), takes us literally through the world of Downton Abbey, starting with family life, touching on society and its changes, life belowstairs, fashion of the age, the function of the country estate, romantic relationships, and war. Last but not least is the chapter devoted to behind the scenes of the series, though the entire book is interspersed with tidbits of the actual production. The amount of work that goes into creating this incredible high drama is astounding, and without pictures of the sets and costumes and crew I would find it difficult to believe this wasn't pulled together with the wave of a wand.

Best yet are the mini-interviews from the cast and crew, whose interesting-and sometimes entertaining-recollections of filming series one and two (based on the synopses I've placed on the site, the book hints at happenings up to the second or third episode) are a treat. The one that stands out to me is historical adviser Alastair Bruce's conversation with Sophie McShera (Daisy), who complained that she never got to see the house since, as scullery maid, Daisy rarely left the kitchens! The only downside is that there are no quotes from Dame Maggie Smith! I would have loved to hear her thoughts on the series and its success, as well as her position as Grand Dame on the set, but alack alas alack-at least there are plenty of "Violetisms" sprinkled throughout the text.

But yet again I cannot express how lovely this book is! I spent the first day or two just looking at the book because it's so beautiful, and the following week was spent absorbing all of the information in the book-and even then I've saved a few sections to read later on. Basically, The World of Downton Abbey is the entire series in print format, and for all of you Downtonites, this book is well worth purchasing!

(this review is reposted from Edwardian Promenade, where I've also interviewed Jessica Fellowes!)
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating way to continue my obsession with Downton, January 28, 2012
This review is from: The World of Downton Abbey (Hardcover)
I was very excited when I saw this book. I cannot get enough of Downtown Abbey. First, I must give a disclaimer. I read my book on a Kindle so the pictures were spread across 2 pages and the content sometimes didn't match the heading or photo. This book is obviously best experienced in all its hardcover, beautifully bound glory. I don't know if that affected my reading experience, but it may have.

Summary: If you are a diehard fan, you will devour every page with relish. If you are looking for a historical companion book for Downtown Abbey, you will enjoy it. I just wish there was more to it.

First: The Good.
I really enjoyed learning more about the time period and context of Downtown Abbey. I loved seeing images of the time period and learning more about the WWI, families, marriage, and other aspects of life that Downtown Abbey explores.They did a great job of talking about how the characters relate to the historical period. They have some great images from the time period that show nursing, style, and society of the time period. For example, they have some great information about nurses and the training they received as volunteers during WWI along with some images of nursing posters for the time period. My favorite was the cartoons of the pantsuits that Sybil's shocking dinner outfit was based on.

I also enjoyed all the commentary from the cast and the details about the intensity of the filming. It was a fascinating read.

Second: Why it Got 4 Stars
I felt like the book might have been thrown together quickly. At times I felt like I was reading a research paper about the time period rather than a historical perspective on Downton Abbey. I was really surprised when the book was finished and I saw the cast list. I feel that if more time was put into this, it would have been an extraordinary volume to complement the series. As it stands, it was a great way to quench my thirst for all things Downton.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy the hard cover, it's worth every penny!, February 11, 2012
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This review is from: The World of Downton Abbey (Hardcover)
I purchased this for a birthday gift for my partner, she and I are both huge fans of the show. We were slightly apprehensive about this being more of a 'production' companion; that is, showing more of the filming and set design. Instead we were pleasantly surprised to find this a delightful companion to the world of Downton Abbey from the era. Included are many, many gorgeous photos of the abbey and the actors in various scenes.

The information included discusses a little about the actual production, but more as the production relates to the actual era and how the filmmakers and designers stayed true to historical aspects. For example, included is an example of what a person of that era would use to wash their hair, or why a particular costume is the way it is. There are fun little factoids, such as pointing out that an American heiress in England would likely travel to Paris once a year and spend up to $20,000 (and that is in 1910s currency) on clothing and jewelry to wear for the upcoming year.

The reader also finds out that much of the set, props, and costumes are either authentic pieces from the period, or made with pieces from the period. Many of the costumes have accessories or pieces from the 1920s. Amazing! But even those items that had to be made are made with painstaking detail to historical accuracy.

And the historical accuracy of the series is what makes this companion book such a welcome addition for any fan. This book will not tell you of the plot, or spoil any surprises from the show. It does discuss the characters as if they were real people living in the era (i.e. Cora would have done this...). But for those interested in the period from the late 1800s through the 1920s of England's high society, this is a wonderful book. And it really is a welcome gift for fans.

*** Of note: the first copy we received had some light damage to a few of the pages (creasing, some folding, and a few tears), amazon shipped a replacement immediately and we are happy now.
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112 of 137 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle edition is lacking and overpriced, January 24, 2012
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This review is from: The World of Downton Abbey (Hardcover)
I enjoyed this book and probably would have given it 5 stars if I had the print edition. I gave it one star to draw attention of those thinking of getting the Kindle edition. The photos are very low resolution. Even worse, the larger photos which spread over two pages in the print edition are split in half with a large space between them. There's really no excuse for this - the digital version could easily have beautiful, high definition graphics at no extra cost.

Very shoddy.

Update: There's a 7-day return policy on Kindle books. I found out too late to return mine for a refund, but perhaps this info will be useful to others.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GOREGOUS and so thorough!, January 7, 2012
By 
Sandy H (Plano, TX United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The World of Downton Abbey (Hardcover)
I put this book on my Christmas Wish List because I am a huge Downton Abbey fan and thought I would like it "no matter what". When I opened the gift containing the book and leafed through the pages, I was ecstatic! It far exceeded my expectations and is, by far, my very favorite gift this year!

The photos are incredibly beautiful and there are loads of them. Scenes from the series, casual shots on location in-between filming segments, historical photos, etc., etc. The written content is equally rich and wonderful. Lots of interviews with the cast, much information about the house (Highclere Castle), and very interesting sections discussing British history, culture, politics, and so on.

My only caution is that includes a lot of information and photos from Season 2. So...if you haven't watched all of Season 2 and the Christmas Special, and don't want to spoil the suspense of watching them, get the book but don't peek until you've watched all of those episodes.

Other than that....if your a Downton fan, you will LOVE this book!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely companion to the TV series, February 20, 2012
This review is from: The World of Downton Abbey (Hardcover)
Yes, I love the TV series, but that's not the reason I gave this book five stars. Not only does it give background on the major characters but it delves into history and customs as well. The author, niece of the series creator, gives us the opportunity to peak into the lives of not just the characters we have come to love but also real-life people who lived in the English country homes, both the servants and the homeowners. The photographs beginning chapter one are a good reminder of who does what in the big house; the quotations every few pages remind us of the wit and tone from specific episodes. But more importantly to me, we are given a look at the history of England, of a time when the inhabitants of these large houses waited for things expected and unexpected, when a war was looming, when a kitchen maid was the lowest rung on the servant's ladder but she was nevertheless grateful to be a step above poverty. I highly recommend this book to both fans and nonfans of Downton Abbey, for there is much to be learned.

A favorite quote (pg 204):

Mary: "How many times am I to be ordered to marry the man sitting next to me at dinner?"
Cora: "As many times as it takes."
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Glorious pictures, August 12, 2012
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This review is from: The World of Downton Abbey (Hardcover)
"The World of Downton Abby" is a companion book to the wonderful television series, but really doesn't give the reader much
"behind the scenes" information. The photography in the book is glorious. There are very few interviews with the actors and
not a word from Maggie Smith who is the spice of the show. The book is interesting. It does explain just how the series
was developed but not how the actors were cast. There is a brief explaination of how Highclere Castle was chosen and how
the sets in London were built, furnished and some of the technical problems of shooting in multiple locations. The section
on the war scenes is very interesting and shows how much investigation has gone into making everything authentic. Explaining
how the dresses were made is also quite well done, however I would have enjoyed more information on just how the work is shot,
more interviews with the actors and more information about the set construction and decoration. If you want a picture book,
buy this one. If you want information, pass.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spotlighting the Splendor, Secrets, and Spirit of Downton Abbey, February 19, 2013
This review is from: The World of Downton Abbey (Hardcover)
Length:: 1:50 Mins

This companion to Downton Abbey (seasons one and two) is filled with such lush and arresting visuals I had to do more than merely write a review! I hope this little video I made of the chapter pages and included flip-through help illustrate the gorgeous artwork, stunning layout, and massive amount of information to be absorbed in these pages.

Fans of the ITV/PBS miniseries will delight in learning more about the Edwardian time period, the daily routines and lifestyles of aristocrats and servants, and the real-life stories about people who lived during this Era. I especially enjoyed the little nuggets of information and history that came from diaries, journals, and memoirs of people who spent their lives in service. In addition, I loved reading accounts and descriptions of the real-life people who inspired characters in the series such as Lady Cora, Sir Richard Carlisle, and The Dowager Countess. I truly believe that every Downton Abbey addict and devotee NEEDS to own this sumptuous, illuminating, and thorough companion novel!

Austenesque Reviews
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The World of Downton Abbey
The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes (Hardcover - December 6, 2011)
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