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Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The…
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Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere…

by The Countess of Carnarvon

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    Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon (Taphophile13)
    Taphophile13: Almina Wombwell and Catherine Wendell both married into the Herbert family and each in turn became Countess of Carnarvon and mistress of Highclere Castle.
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Almost everyone has become familiar with the immensely popular PBS drama series Downton Abbey. The series is inspired by an actual estate called Highclere Castle. This book is a nonfiction account of Highclere and the 5th Countess of Carnarvon, who married into the family and became Highclere's mistress in 1895. The story doesn't really focus on life at Highclere, but rather on the era in which Almina lived. That includes WWI and the discovery of King Tut's tomb in which Lord Carnarvon partnered with Howard Carter. I wasn't sure I would like the book when it was given to me but I did very much. ( )
  clue | Jul 9, 2014 |
As I've never seen Downton Abbey, but I do love history, so I chose to read this book instead. I have always found the stories of the real people who inspired the characters to be much more fascinating.

Almina was an incredible lady, of incredible privilege in her life, but with a vision & a passion for nursing, & she was at the cutting edge of her field, insisting in strict hygiene, employing the best physicians, & the best of the new technologies & breakthroughs in the fields of post operative & trauma medicine. Yet she also believed that the patient's mental health was every bit as important as their physical well being.

She was overshadowed by her husband's triumph of his partnership with Howard Carter & their headline topping discovery of King Tut's tomb, which still fascinates people today.

The fact that there are photos & drawing & snippets of letters in several places in the book bring the history to life as well. I am very thankful that this Countess wrote this book & shared her family's history with the rest of us.

This is my first 5 star review of the year. I am looking forward to reading any of the other books she has written ( )
  Lisa.Johnson.James | Apr 10, 2014 |
I need to write a review of [Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey] by The Countess of Carnarvon, c. 2011

I am partial to biographies, and history, and historical fiction. I love peeking into others' lives. And this, of course, was just up my alley. The writing was good enough that it did not distract but was not lovely, or wonderful. The Countess who wrote the book did a fair amount of research, and of course, it was her family. She was not overly prejudiced in favor of the family but she also could not be described as having written a critical book.

The book runs from abut 1895 to 1925 covering Edwardian era, World War I, and early recovery from the war. It is based in the family who inhabits Highclere Castle which is the "castle" pictured in the TV show, Downton Abbey. It means to tell both the story of upstairs and of downstairs, but truthfully it was about The Family. And more than any one, it was about Lady Almina. And I do agree she was a fascinating woman, worthy of having had a book written about her.

I enjoyed the fact that many of the story threads in Downton Abbey do indeed have their foundation in the stories in this family. None of the TV characters can be said to be based on real people, but there are composites, no doubt.

I do recommend it to those who like history, and biography, and the TV show. It is a bit too pedestrian to recommend it to just everyone. ( )
  maggie1944 | Mar 25, 2014 |
Although this is not a biography, this book gives a great outline of Lady Almina and it reads like a novel. As a big fan of Downtown Abbey I really enjoyed learning the bases of some of the story lines of the show. However, as I read this book, I found that the real story is just as interesting as fiction. And learning that the 5th Earl's connection with discovering an important Egyptian King. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in learning a little about English Gentry. ( )
  SLamkin | Feb 21, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this snapshot of a time in history in the life of this family. I saw the documentary on Highclere Castle on PBS and immediately ordered the book. I think the reader must recognize that the TV series Downtown Abbey is a fictional fantasy based on the history of the real family and place, not the other way around. So if you are expecting it to be an exact reflection of the fictional version you will no doubt be disappointed. ( )
  readyreader | Feb 21, 2014 |
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For my husband and son, who I adore, and my beloved sisters
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On Wednesday 26 June 1895, Miss Almina Victoria Marie Alexandra Wombwell, a startlingly pretty nineteen-year-old of somewhat dubious social standing, married George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, at St Margaret's, Westminster.
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Book description
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration for the hit PBS show Downton Abbey, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon and the basis of the fictional character Lady Cora Crawley. Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war.


Much like her Masterpiece Classic counterpart, Lady Almina was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Alfred de Rothschild, who married his daughter off at a young age, her dowry serving as the crucial link in the effort to preserve the Earl of Carnarvon's ancestral home. Throwing open the doors of Highclere Castle to tend to the wounded of World War I, Lady Almina distinguished herself as a brave and remarkable woman.


This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.

[retrieved 9/27/2012 from Amazon.com]
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Tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes's Emmy Award-winning PBS show, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon.

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