Daily Archives: July 14, 2014

Lady Almina And The Real Downton Abbey Book Review

Highclere castle has become iconic in it’s own right. Not just because it is the real castle where the fictional Downton Abbey is set, but also because is the home of Lord and Lady Carnavan. In the 1920’s, the 5th Lord Carnavon teamed up with Howard Carter to locate and excavate King Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Lady Almina And The Real Downton Abbey , written by Lady Fiona Carnavon, is the non fiction story of her husband’s great-grandmother, Lady Almina, 5th Countess of Carnavon.  Like her fictional counterpart, Lady Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern), Almina is the illegitimate daughter of the wealthy industrialist, Alfred de Rothschild and his married mistress, Marie Wombwell. Almina is 19 when she marries; she brings to her husband a fortune that will save his family and his home. They will eventually have two children. During WWI, Almina opens her home the soldiers returning from the front.

I found this book to be fascinating. While Downton Abbey fans know the fictional Crawley family and their servants, the story of the real life Highclere castle and the Carnavon family is just as impressive a story.

I recommend this book.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Downton Abbey

When We Were Young And Unafraid Review

When We Were Young And Unafraid is the best play of 2014.

In the early 1970’s, Agnes (Cherry Jones) runs a bed and breakfast while raising her teenage daughter, Penny (Morgan Saylor) on an island near Seattle, Washington. The bed and breakfast is a cover for an underground battered women’s shelter. Mary Anne  (Zoe Kazan, granddaughter of the legendary director Elia Kazan) is running from her abusive husband.  Paul (Patch Darragh) is one of Agnes’s clients, seeking shelter from his own past.  Hannah (Cherise Boothe) came to the island looking for work and the womyns group she has been following.

This play is beyond magnificent. The topics of feminism, homosexuality, abortion, spousal abuse, teenage angst is written in such a way by playwright Sarah Treem that instead of being preachy or soapboxy, it intertwines with the secrets that we all have.  Put against the backdrop of the early 1970’s, when the world was changing, this play is dynamic, powerful and everything a play should be.

I highly recommend this play.

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Filed under Broadway Play Review, Feminism