Sunday, July 14, 2013

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


Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere CastleLady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by Fiona Carnarvon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What I most enjoyed about this book was the interweaving of the family living at Highclere Castle with the larger events going on in the world at the time. Movers and shakers would be one way to describe them. They knew everybody and entertained them in style. What else is money for? It was definitely the end of an era -- and once the Great War started, you could sense it.  To her credit, Lady Almina also used a great deal of her money (settled on her by her natural father Alfred de Rothschild) during the war to set up hospitals to care for wounded British officers. Her husband, Lord Carnarvon, was the famous and ill-fated partner of Howard Carter. Together they discovered the Tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings.

While the end of her life was ignominious (lurid divorce/alimony trial and money-laundering/tax-evasion: is it any wonder the author, Fiona Carnarvon, decided to leave this part out?), the 5th Countess of Carnarvon's life while she reigned at Highclere Castle was an interesting, if a bit high-gloss, read.

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