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Adult Books We’re Loving Right Now: Downton Abbey

February 15, 2012

We are kicking off a new monthly feature today on the blog. We know many of you love not just children’s books, but adult books as well. We would love to share adult books that we love, and we also plan to welcome some of our favorite booksellers and sales reps who specialize in adult books to share their recommendations with you. To start this new feature, we’re sharing a list of books that any fans of the amazing PBS show “Downton Abbey” won’t want to miss. These fiction and nonfiction titles are perfect for people who love this period in history. Enjoy!



BIRDSONG by Sebastian Faulks

Published to international critical and popular acclaim, this intensely romantic yet stunningly realistic novel spans three generations and the unimaginable gulf between the First World War and the present. Recently adapted for BBC TV, the miniseries is coming to PBS TV’s Masterpiece Theater April 22 and 29, 2012.

Howard's End

HOWARD’S END by E.M. Forster

“Only Connect,” Forster’s key aphorism, informs this novel about an English country house, Howard’s End, and its influence on the lives of the wealthy and materialistic Wilcoxes, the cultured, idealistic Schlegel sisters, and the poor bank clerk Leonard Bast. Bringing together people from different classes and nations by way of sympathetic insight and understanding, Howard’s End eloquently addresses the question “Who shall inherit England?” (Lionel Trilling). This was written in 1910 at the height of the Edwardian era.

Parade's End

PARADE’S END by Ford Madox Ford

Ford Madox Ford’s masterpiece, a tetralogy set in England during World War I, is widely considered one of the best novels of the twentieth century. Parade’s End explores the world of the English ruling class as it descends into the chaos of war. Christopher Tietjens is an officer from a wealthy family who finds himself torn between his unfaithful socialite wife, Sylvia, and his suffragette mistress, Valentine. This was recently adapted for BBC TV and will be coming to the US at a future date.




At the outset of the 1870s, the British aristocracy could rightly consider themselves the most fortunate people on earth: they held the lion’s share of land, wealth, and power in the world’s greatest empire. By the end of the 1930s they had lost not only a generation of sons in the First World War, but also much of their prosperity, prestige, and political significance.



A book that is part travelogue, part meditation on remembrance—and completely, unabashedly, unlike any other about the First World War. Through visits to battlefields and memorials, Dyer examines the way that photographs and film, poetry and prose determined—sometimes in advance of the events described—the way we would think about and remember the war. With his characteristic originality and insight, Dyer untangles and reconstructs the network of myth and memory that illuminates our understanding of, and relationship to, the Great War.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these titles, other books you would recommend for history buffs, or what you think about our new adult book feature!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2012 8:25 am

    I think I’m the only person in the country who hasn’t caught Downton Abbey fever. I bet my mother would love all the books you’ve listed.

  2. not Bridget permalink
    February 15, 2012 2:47 pm

    I thought the first series of “Downton Abbey” was a lovely, posh soap opera. The writing & pacing in the second series has been disappointing–but parts are still fun. Thanks for the reminder of “The Missing of the Somme”–I finally purchased it from Amazon.

    I’ve quite fallen in love with “Parade’s End.” You do realize that Valentine is not Christopher’s mistress for the first three volumes? Despite what all the gossiping old biddies (of all ages & genders) believe. It’s far beyond “Downton” in quality & might be considered a deconstruction of the Great House Genre. Especially with a script by Sir Tom Stoppard! (I believe HBO co-produced.)

  3. Angela K Sherrill permalink
    February 15, 2012 3:31 pm

    I don’t love this genre or period in history, but I’ve become enraptured by “Downtown Abbey”. Normally, discussions of suitors, appropriate clothing, arm gloves and using the correct utensils bore and frustrate me, in turn. However, this is the equivalent of “The Wire” for the genre. Highly recommended.

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