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While We Were Watching Downton Abbey Mass Market Paperback – December 31, 2013
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Wax breaks from her Ten Beach Road series to indulge her obsession with the popular British television show Downton Abbey in her latest novel. When Edward, concierge of a posh Atlanta building, decides to host a weekly Downtown Abbey viewing party, it brings together an unlikely trio of residents. Behind her poised facade, Samantha harbors the belief that her husband married her out of pity, and she lets her younger siblings take advantage of her. Empty-nester Claire has taken a year off from her day job to write her next novel, but crippling writer’s block has her dodging her editor’s calls. Frumpy single-mom Brooke must face her ex-husband and his glossy new girlfriend, who have moved into the building. Wax’s trendy premise makes for a surprisingly poignant and enjoyable story about friendship. Readers need not be fans of the show to enjoy this tale, but they may relate more to the characters’ infatuation if they are. --Aleksandra Walker --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Praise for While We Were Watching Downton Abbey
“Quite a clever, fun little novel.”—USA Today
“A tribute to the transformative power of female friendship, and reading Wendy Wax is like discovering a witty, wise, and wonderful new friend.”—Claire Cook, bestselling author of Must Love Dogs and Time Flies
“Wax’s trendy premise makes for a surprisingly poignant and enjoyable story about friendship.”—Booklist
“In the style of…Karen Joy Fowler’s The Jane Austen Book Club…the book engrosses its reader in the drama of these women’s love lives and emotional struggles.”—Deseret News
“A grand, well-paced contemporary read definitely deserving to be on the bestseller list!!! Great writing!”—Crystal Book Reviews
“Wendy Wax’s fresh approach to an entertaining storyline hooks us with the idea that other things could happen 'while we were watching Downton Abbey'…Honesty in any relationship is vital, and Wax shows this truth in downtown Atlanta alongside the engrossing story of Downton Abbey.”—Bookreporter.com
“This warm and charming novel about struggling to redefine yourself will be your perfect escape.”—Lisa Steinke, She Knows
“Pulled me in… I highly recommend it.”—Night Owl Reviews
“Again, Wax has knocked it out of the park.”—Great Thoughts
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Top customer reviews
While We Were Watching Downton Abbey
by Wendy Wax
First, this book doesn't have a lot to do with Downton Abbey; second, it reads like a book just begging for a sequel (which is OK with me). After both of my sisters read the book, I knew I had to read it too, and I was not sorry. Wendy Wax is a good writer and keeps the reader interested and involved in the lives of three women (and others) who have decided to participate in watching the weekly screenings on Sunday evening of the British television series, Downton Abbey.
The setting is interesting. I have never explored Atlanta, but was intrigued enough by the location to want to. It all takes place in a large, mid-town apartment building called the Alexander. The building, remodeled in the Beaux Arts style, is a trendy and desirable place for up-scale but diverse tenants.
The Alexander has contracted with a new company called Private Butler whose owner is a 50ish Englishman, Edward Parker. He is also the concierge in the building. He believes and follows a moral code of total discretion in serving his residents. His family legacy in England was "in service" at Montclaire Castle where his grandfather began teaching Edward the practice of discretion when he was only 10 years old.
Edward realizes that he and the tenants don't know one another and because he is a little homesick, he decides screening seasons one and two of the wildly popular series, Downton Abbey, is just the catalyst needed for a getting-to-know you activity. Indeed, an unlikely friendship is one result between three attendees; Samantha Davis, Claire Walker, and Brooke Mackenzie, as they sip shandies (lager and lemonade) and partake of before and "afters," including authentic English pastries, tarts and trifles.
Samantha married Jonathan Davis twenty-five years ago when she was 21 and he was 27. Before they were married, her father embezzled from the law firm founded by Jonathan's father to pay his gambling debts. However, both her mother and father were killed in a car accident leaving Samantha to care for two younger siblings. Under the circumstances, she was surprised Jonathan wanted to marry her and help raise her brother, Hunter, and her sister, Meredith. She and Jonathan never had children of their own but Jonathan has always been generous and supportive of her brother and sister.
Samantha appears to have a perfect life. She dresses impeccably, is always perfectly coiffed, and ready to please Jonathan. Even though she is married to a successful (rich) attorney who treats her with affection and respect, she wonders if he really loves her and if he married her only because he felt sorry for her. Samantha definitely needs to figure this out. With the help of Brooke and Claire, she finally finds the answer. (I don't think the author knows much about marriage or she wouldn't have developed this fake story line. In the book, Jonathan did everything to show Samantha he loved her, yet she couldn't see it? I'm sorry, no!)
Brooke Mackenzie is a divorced mother of two girls. She worked three jobs to put her ex-husband, Zachary, through medical school and residency in plastic surgery (a long, hard haul). Brooke has curly red hair and a less than perfect body, but she refused to let her ex work on her. Brooke could never please Zachary and he constantly puts her down. The marriage broke up when Zachary becomes involved with one of his patients that Brooke calls Barbie. Edward (the concierge) engages her in his Private Butler business working with a single father which leads to new confidence and the possibility of a new beginning.
Finally, Claire Walker. She is a single, long-divorced mother whose daughter has just gone off to Chicago to attend college. While still working, Claire authored two moderately successful romantic novels set in Scotland in the 1700's. Now, she sold her house in the suburbs and moved into a small apartment in the Alexander where she plans to spend the next year concentrating on writing her "best seller." The trouble is, she has a bad case of writer's block that she can't seem to cure. And, she worries that her money will run out before her words start to flow again. When she gets involved in the friendship with Samantha and Brooke, she begins to see that she might be finished with Scotland in the 1700's. Moving on to new times and characters seems to be the answer.
A good book always includes characters who grow and change. While We Were Watching is a great example of that. Friendship leads to confession, that leads to recognition, change, love, success, new attitudes and new thinking. Be watching for the sequel that is sure to come!
The book follows the lives, interactions, and developing friendship of these four main characters along with following the first two seasons of Downton Abbey. The characters are well-drawn and likeable, and the story has several plot lines to keep it going. It's not a deep or life-changing book by any means, but it's a pleasant, fun read, especially for Downton fans.