There is definitely a resounding feeling of pretentiousness in this book for sure.
(my review of the previous series companion book, The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, is here. )
I read this moderately quickly – in a few hours give or take (it would have been quicker but I had to sleep.)
As I said, there seems to be a pretentiousness around the series at this point – to Fellowes, this is supposed to be the jewel in his crown…his magnum opus.
As usual we have the normal expert knowledge from Fellowes and examples are lifted from similar families and country houses which would have existed at the time.
Another ‘coffee table’ book to read. It doesn’t really need all the engagement of the mental faculties to be honest and there are pretty pictures to look at. There seemed to be more in this book than they had in Chronicles. The layout seems a bit disjointed, there is lazy editing in some bits (Carson is called Carter on one page.) and there seem to be massive jumps within one page which several times had me turning back thinking I was lost.
There is plenty of historical background into such things as nursing, changing customs, women’s suffrage, and war (the primary focus of this series) but Fellowes seems sickeningly in love with his characters – bordering on saccharine levels of sickeningly sweet – which is good, considering that he is the creator of this hallowed series. I just can’t be expected to like or care about some of the characters and all the gushingly effusive words in this book are not going to persuade me otherwise.
Again, if you are a fan of this series, then this companion book is for you (even though it is a bit out of date as of 2014, plotwise). If you are not a head-over-heels fan but want to read it anyway, then borrow it from your local library. If you still have a local library. It just doesn’t seem worth the £20 it would have gone for if I’d brought it from a shop.
I’ve probably grown very disenchanted with this series over all.
MY RATING: ** / *****