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Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey Audiobook
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
Written by: 
The Countess of Carnarvon
Narrated by: 
Wanda McCaddon
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey Audiobook

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle

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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Nominee, Biography and Memoir, 2013

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes's Emmy Award-winning PBS series, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants: Lady Almina, the fifth Countess of Carnarvon.

Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war. Much like her Masterpiece Classic counterpart Lady Cora Crawley, Lady Almina was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Alfred de Rothschild, who married his daughter off at a young age, her dowry serving as the crucial link in the effort to preserve the Earl of Carnarvon's ancestral home. Throwing open the doors of Highclere Castle to tend to the wounded of World War I, Lady Almina distinguished herself as a brave and remarkable woman.

This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.

©2011 Countess of Carnarvon (P)2012 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Gives the juicy back story behind last year's Emmy-winning Masterpiece Theater drama." (The New York Times)

"If you can’t wait for the new season of Downton Abbey... this one's for you.... a revealing portrait of the changing times." (New York Post)

"The present Lady Carnarvon, who tapped the family archives for her comprehensive research, dramatically captures the estate during the pre-war and war years, and paints a compelling... portrait of Lady Almina." (Newark Star-Ledger)

"Wanda McCaddon invites listeners into the Countess of Carnarvon’s breezy book, which blends a wealth of archival letters, diaries, and photographs. McCaddon sweeps through the transitions between the downstairs servants and the socially elite, details of furniture and costumes, as well as the changes that come with WWI." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (421 )
5 star
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Overall
3.9 (372 )
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1 star
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4.1 (376 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Johanna Turner Mayfield, KY 06-16-13
    Johanna Turner Mayfield, KY 06-16-13 Member Since 2013

    CPA, CFP, and serial audiophile.

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    "I bet it's better than the TV show"

    Historical books set in Great Britain, in particular early 20th century, are just my cup of tea. My son and his wife keep pushing me to watch Downton Abbey, but my husband and I just don't do much TV, so this book was an obvious choice. It did NOT disappoint.

    While I have read many books based around WWII events, this is the first that covered WWI and, I must say, it was surprising to me that I had not looked at this era in more depth - but now I intend to. Lady Almina was a remarkable woman, as were most of her "supporting characters", in particular her longsuffering husband, George, Earl of Carnarvon. The people in this era were so much more accomplished and diligent, to say nothing of educated, than we are today. It puts me to shame, but also encourages me to learn and do more.

    Wanda McCaddon is my favorite narrator of books in need of a British accent, and she was superb in the "Real Downton Abbey". I could hardly quit listening and was sorry when it ended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan 04-18-13
    Susan 04-18-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Downton Abbey fans will appreciate this book"
    Any additional comments?

    I read this after "Rose: My Life in Service...", coincidentally. Turned out to be an interesting contrast.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LCM 02-04-13
    LCM 02-04-13

    Lisa Lamb

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    "Great insight into the real stories"

    This book not only told the story of the castle, those who lived there but also insight into some of the rules that ran that era.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Bristol 07-02-12
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    "Loved the story and long for a sequel!"
    Where does Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

    This story was very much near the top of the audiobooks I've listened to.


    What other book might you compare Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey to and why?

    I have enjoyed many of the English novelists. I can't really compare this one to others, but felt transported to the castle and its' people; almost as if I could imagine living in that era.


    Have you listened to any of Wanda McCaddon???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes. I felt sad that there was an ending to the story. Please continue with the family's lives. As least to the point where you won't be sued!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Mountain View, AR, United States 06-25-12
    A. Mountain View, AR, United States 06-25-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting story"
    What made the experience of listening to Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey the most enjoyable?

    Enjoyed this book as it compares to the Downton series, not exactly but close. The details of how people lived during this pre-WWI time is interesting.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The discovery of King Tut's tomb.


    Have you listened to any of Wanda McCaddon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No other.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Laugh.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dorothyjc 04-23-12
    Dorothyjc 04-23-12
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    "Truth is stranger than Fiction"
    Would you listen to Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey again? Why?

    I don't usually read a book more than once.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I found that the true story of the inhabitants of "Downton Abbey" was every bit as interesting as the TV series, more so, because it was a true story culled from news articles, letters and diaries. The stories were intriguing and the descriptions outstanding.


    Which character – as performed by Wanda McCaddon – was your favorite?

    Almina, the countess of Carnarvon, the center around which the other characters swirled, each with their own quirks and peculiarities. I loved listening to Ms. McCaddon, I don't think a better voice/performer could have been chosen for this book.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The lost Legacy of Hichclere Castle says it very well. If not for "Downton Abbey" these stories might not have been so enticing but once you've entered the real HighClere Castle and realized the actual events that took place there and the people involved it is a story that stands well on its own.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron E. Michel 04-16-12 Member Since 2015
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    "From Rothschild to King Tut"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey to be better than the print version?

    I have not read the book and probably never would since it is hard to find time to read and easy to find time to listen.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey?

    The wounded soldier being cared for at the castle was asked by the butler which paper he wanted to read first.


    What about Wanda McCaddon???s performance did you like?

    The reader had the perfect voice and pace for this story.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It almost made me cry towards the end when the Earl died.


    Any additional comments?

    It raises the question about where all that money from Rothchild came from and where did he keep it.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joanne 10-08-12
    Joanne 10-08-12
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    "Lady Almina:Her Life and Legacy"
    Would you listen to Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey again? Why?

    No. Once gives the overview and feel for the periods in history spanned. Also expands on the backdrop on which Downton Abbey occurs. The memorable fun facts can be processed with just one listen.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Lady Almina of course. She is the point of the audio book and her heritage and journey are quite enlightening.


    Which character – as performed by Wanda McCaddon – was your favorite?

    Don't really have one. The performance in the audio book was subtle but effective.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Don't have an answer. This question is a bit gimmicky.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Plano, TX, United States 03-23-14
    Mary Plano, TX, United States 03-23-14

    I love mysteries. I've read all Agatha Christie's and Mary Higgins Clark's books. I'm on the hunt for more great books with female heroines.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "High expectations"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Yes, make it more of a series of short stories like the Downton Abby series.


    Would you be willing to try another book from The Countess of Carnarvon? Why or why not?

    Probably if she wrote like Julian Fellowes. I hoped the feeling in the book would be like the one that I get from watching Downton Abby.


    Have you listened to any of Wanda McCaddon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    Did Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey inspire you to do anything?

    No. I'm visiting Britain for the first time, so my upcoming trip inspired me to read this book. Plus, I'm a HUGE Downton Abby fan, like many other people.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm being a little hard on the author. I'm more of a mystery lover. So, my rating is based on a lack of intrigue in a book like this. It felt a little stuffy. I did enjoy the war history lessons though.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lauren Kelly San Diego, Ca, US 03-11-13
    Lauren Kelly San Diego, Ca, US 03-11-13 Member Since 2010
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    "not what I expected"
    What did you like best about Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey? What did you like least?

    I enjoyed hearing about Lady Almina, but I expeted it to be more in story form


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The life that the Lady and her husband led, was indeed, very interesting.


    What does Wanda McCaddon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I rather enjoyed the English accent, it really brought the book to life.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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