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Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
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Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle (The Women of the Real Downton Abbey #1)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  14,728 Ratings  ·  2,128 Reviews
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes's Emmy Award-winning PBS show Downton Abbey, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, l ...more
Paperback, 310 pages
Published December 27th 2011 by Broadway Books (first published 2011)
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Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm of two minds here. On the one hand, as someone who not only likes Downton Abbey, but also really likes pretty much anything British and Victorian/Edwardian (think: Mitfords, Sackville-West, Waugh), this was a whole lot of fun. On the other, it was a little disconcerting just how much the author fawned over her subject. Perhaps this is because she's followed in her footsteps, is also the Countess of Carnarvon (married to the 8th Earl; Almina married the 5th), and is clearly using this book to ...more
Jason Koivu
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Yeah, I read this. Why? Because I'm a lady, you see. Please, pay me no heed.

This is the story of Highclere Castle at its prime. Specifically it focuses on Lady Almina, her husband Lord Carnarvon and their family.

As the subtitle suggests, Highclere is the impressive house better known to the world these days as Downton Abbey, and that is why this book exists.

There are marked similarities between what viewers of that hit television show will recognize and what actually happened at Highclere, esp
The Lit Bitch
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was absolutely riveting! I would call this one un-put-downable…it was a smashing read and I enjoyed every page! Books like this make me excited about history! Don’t we all wish we could wave our magic wands and become the Crawley family living the high life at Downton Abbey? For Lady Almina Carnarvon that dream was a reality!!
See my full review here
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Are you at a loss after viewing the Season 2 final episode of Downton Abbey wondering how you will make it until Season 3 airs??? Then pick up this book and snuggle in for a great read. I think you will enjoy reading about the "real" people and recognize those who have lived and loved beautiful Highclere. Almina inherits gobs of money from Albert Rothschild and becomes a real catch in the late 1890s Victorian/Edwardian society of London. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon picks her and they make a love m ...more
Although I enjoyed this book it was lacking in many respects for me. But let me start with what I did like.

I enjoyed the glimpse into the life and world of Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon and the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. They lived and managed Highclere Castle from the late 1800’s until the Earl’s death in 1923. I knew of Earl Carnarvon because of his discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb, but I never connected him to Highclere. Lady Almina was someone I was not familiar with and I enjoy
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, historic
I loved this book. LOVED it. If you read it looking for Downton you will be disappointed. If you read it as the story of the life of an amazing woman and an amazing time it is brilliant.

Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon, was the illegitimate daughter of a Rothschild. She inhabited a world of luxery and convenience that even a modern woman will be awed by. Her marriage to the 5th Earl was to wash clean her background and to remove the debt from the family. Her dowry included Rothschild p
Aug 21, 2012 rated it liked it
I was captivated by the Downton Abbey drama on PBS and so when I discovered this book on Highclere Abbey ( where it was filmed) and Almina, Countess of Caernarvon, I knew I wanted to read it and I was not disappointed. The book is written by the current Countess, Fiona Caernarvon, who became interested in researching the subject when the script for the TV series was being written. The result is a fascinating account of how a large Estate is organised and the activities of the family who owned it ...more
Will Cross
We should know our betters : know that toffs will not be transparent. They will only tell you what they want you to know and to minimise the scandal they will painfully minimise the accuracy. Despite pointing out the howlers in the captions on several photographs, and the historically flawed text in Highclere’s “ Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey” ( after the hardback came out in the UK, last September ) the transformation of this book into it’s new “ First US Edition”, with the inners unch ...more
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read!! I couldn't put it down.
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I thought this would be fluff, but it turned out to be the very opposite. Through photos and excerpts from family archives, the focus is primarily on Lady Almina, the Countess of Carnarvon after her marriage to the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Highclere Castle may be the setting for the popular TV series, Downton Abbey, and there are some similarities in events that took place in both the fictional family seat of the Crawleys and the Carnarvons, but this generation of the Carnarvons made contributions ...more
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Arters AP Literat...: Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey 4 2 Apr 23, 2017 06:53PM  
Why all the hate? 13 75 Aug 30, 2014 01:12PM  
What makes Downton Abbey so good? 22 426 Aug 07, 2014 01:43PM  
Goodreads Librari...: 1 author, 2 different names 3 37 Mar 10, 2013 12:09PM  
Ravelry Knitters: January 2013- Lady Almina and the real Downton Abbey 20 133 Jan 23, 2013 04:40PM  
Laurie R. King Vi...: Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey - VBC May 2012 25 64 Jun 04, 2012 01:04PM  
  • To Marry an English Lord: Or How Anglomania Really Got Started
  • The World of Downton Abbey
  • The Real Life Downton Abbey: How Life Was Really Lived in Stately Homes a Century Ago
  • Up and Down Stairs: The History of the Country House Servant
  • Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor
  • Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey"
  • The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy
  • The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm
  • A Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert, and the Death That Changed the British Monarchy
  • Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey
  • Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household
  • In Triumph's Wake: Royal Mothers, Tragic Daughters, and the Price They Paid for Glory
  • The Churchills
  • The Glitter and the Gold
  • Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants
  • Upstairs & Downstairs: The Illustrated Guide to the Real Life of Masters and Their Servants from the Victorian Era to the Second World War
  • Life Below Stairs: in the Victorian and Edwardian Country House
  • Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire
Note: This is the Goodreads listing for the 8th Countess of Carnarvon.

A former auditor for Coopers & Lybrand, Lady Fiona Carnarvon is the wife of George Herbert, 8th Earl of Carnarvon. Today, she manages affairs at Highclere Castle, home of the worldwide television drama Downton Abbey, including overseeing its grounds and gardens and many special events such as the Egyptian Exhibition in the c
More about Fiona Carnarvon...

Other Books in the Series

The Women of the Real Downton Abbey (2 books)
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