The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era
by Jessica Fellowes & Matthew Sturgis
St. Martin's • $29.99 • ISBN 9781250027627
On sale November 13, 2012


Okay, okay, I know this is a first for What We're Reading Wednesday—a television tie-in book. But it's the day after Christmas, and I know many of you are probably still in your PJs, possibly even watching a DVD marathon of "Downton." In fact, that's just what I was doing on December 26, 2011, since I discovered the series after my mom received the first season under the Christmas tree.

And then I got hooked.

And now I can't wait until January 6, 2013, when "Downton Abbey," Season 3 premieres on PBS in Nashville.

If you've also got "Downton" fever, I'd recommend you check out our Brit lit roundup in the January issue of BookPage, in which we sing the praises of Habits of the House By Fay Weldon, a comedy of manners that takes place in 1890s England. (Even better: Weldon is the author of the first episode of the original "Upstairs Downstairs.") We also recommend Elizabeth Wilhide’s Ashenden, which traces the history of a grand British home from the 18th century to the present. Read about both of those books here.

Or you could also do what I'm doing: flipping through The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era, a photo-heavy tribute by Jessica Fellowes (niece of the creator of "Downton Abbey" and a writer in her own right) and Matthew Sturgis. There are chapters on all the major characters, and enough full-color pictures to make you drop everything and go shopping for hats.

Here's a short excerpt from the foreword, written by Julian Fellowes:

Over the last two rather extraordinary years, at the risk of sounding vain, I have often been asked why I thought "Downton Abbey" has been quite such a success. Of course it is hard to be definite about these things. If television were an exact science, there would be nothing made that did not break records. But supposing I were to put my finger on one element, it might be that we have made the decision to treat every character, the members of the family and the members of their staff, equally, in terms of their narrative strength. they all have emotional lives, dreams, ambitions and disappointments, and with all of them we suggest a back story. So this book, which is an invitation to get to know the characters and their backgrounds more fully, will, I hope, build on that and allow the reader to develop his or her relationship with the figures in our landscapes.

What are you reading today? Did you get any good books under the tree yesterday? Are you also hooked on "Downton" and counting down the days until Season 3?

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