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10 Books to Counteract Your Downton Abbey Withdrawal

4 minute read

Sunday marked the end of an era, as the final episode of Downton Abbey aired in the U.S.—but if the period depicted in the show is your favorite, there are plenty of wonderful books to help you relive it. From novels of the period to new histories of the British upper class, here are 10 reads to beat the Downton blues.

The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy


By David Cannadine

All looked rosy for England’s landed gentry in 1880. By a century later, everything had changed. Cannadine documents the massive shifts brought by WWI, which saw so many of this ruling class’s young men killed, the subsequent economic upheaval, and how this group lost even more social and political importance in the decades that followed.

Good-Bye to All That: An Autobiography


By Robert Graves

Before Joan Didion said goodbye to New York, Robert Graves said goodbye to his native England. Graves’ 1929 autobiography detailed his deep bitterness over the horror of World War I, in which he’d served as an officer, and his increasingly pronounced disillusionment with British society after returning home.

The Inimitable Jeeves

The Overlook Press

By P.G. Wodehouse

The second story collection featuring the lovable buffoon Bertie Wooster and his trusty butler Jeeves takes the reader on hilarious hijinks through 1920s London with Bertie’s lovesick friend Bingo Little and his bold Aunt Agatha.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Penguin Classics

By D.H. Lawrence

Lady Mary wasn’t the only British noblewoman to have a little R-rated fun in the early 20th century. In Lawrence’s classic novel, our protagonist turns away from her noble husband, who was paralyzed from the waist down in the Great War, to seek sexual and emotional refuge with their gamekeeper. When an unexpurgated edition was published several decades later, it was put on trial for obscenity.

Read more: The True History Behind Downton Abbey‘s Scandalous Sex Book

The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House, 1918 – 1939

Basic Books

By Adrian Tinniswood

The title of this history (due out in May) refers to the gap between the World Wars, when the changing economy forced many families to sell their long-established country estates, even while a rising class of “new money” suddenly proved able and eager to buy up these aging architectural beauties as tokens of their freshly acquired wealth.

Read more: What That Fox-Hunting Scene on Downton Abbey Says About The Final Season

Mrs. Dalloway

Mariner Books

By Virginia Woolf

The masterpiece of English literature documents a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a well-to-do Londoner preparing to host a party—but that single day contains the triumphs and trials of her entire life. Meanwhile, nearby, the shellshocked WWI veteran Septimus Warren Smith confronts and succumbs to the horrors of modern life.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

William Morrow Paperbacks

By Agatha Christie

This early Hercule Poirot novel (published in 1926) follows the Belgian detective as he tries to find out who killed his friend in the British countryside; it is noted for its twisty and, at the time, unconventional ending. In 2013, the Crime Writers’ Association voted it the best crime novel of all time.

Parade’s End tetralogy

Vintage Classics

By Ford Madox Ford

Ford’s WWI story, published in four parts between 1924 and ’28, follows a rich officer, Christopher Tietjens, as he grapples with his society-gal wife, his suffragist mistress and the harsh realities of war-torn Europe.

Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times

W.W. Norton

By Lucy Lethbridge

This history traces the working class domestic help of England from the Edwardian period through the present, documenting the men, women and children who were the real-life counterparts of such worthies as Mr. Carson, Mrs. Patmore and Daisy.

Read more: The True Evolution of High-End Household Staffing Since the Downton Era

To Marry an English Lord: Tales of Wealth and Marriage, Sex and Snobbery

Workman Publishing Company

By Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace

An inspirational source for Julian Fellowes’ conception and writing of Downton, this history examines the wealthy American heiresses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, like Cora Grantham, who were looking to make good marriage matches—and the financially struggling English noblemen, like Lord Grantham, who were all too happy to wed them and apply their inheritances toward expensive-to-maintain country estates.

Read more: The LIFE commemorative edition Downton Abbey: Behind the Scenes of the Iconic TV Show is available now.

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