The History Behind the Story, Part I

~posted by Emily

You may not think of George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones (GoT) as historical fiction, but even if you take away the dragons and zombies, much of the drama of the novels and TV series is just as strange as the truth. Martin combines elements of fantasy and folklore with actual events from Medieval English history to create the complicated storylines and web of characters caught up in the battle for the Iron Throne. So if you enjoy the intrigue, scheming, backstabbing and beheadings of GoT, check out these nonfiction titles and learn about the true stories that inspired the series. Continue reading “The History Behind the Story, Part I”

A reading list for Downton Abbey addicts

We know—you’ve heard. The New York Times is mad about itThe Guardian is obsessed with it.  All of your friends on Facebook go on and on about it. Lovers of British period drama (and even quite a few newcomers) agree: the BBC’s Downton Abbey is the greatest thing since crumpets.

But what is it, exactly, that makes this series so compelling? The story—about a family of English aristocrats and their servants just before and during World War I—certainly isn’t heavy on action. The characters spend much of their time drinking tea, sitting at tables, and suffering in silence. But, as in any great novel of manners, their placid faces conceal the Below Stairs the maid who inspired Downton Abbeyplotting, scheming, backstabbing, and longing going on just beneath the surface. And then, of course, there are the beautiful costumes (can I have everything in Lady Mary’s wardrobe, please?) and the gorgeous sets.

If you, like us, find the week between new episodes intolerably long, try filling the gap with some selections from our Downton Abbey reading list.  On it are some of our favorite facts (such as Lady Almina and the Real DownAmerican Heiress at SPLton Abbey), fiction (American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin and A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson),  fashion (The Edwardian Modiste with patterns to make your own fashions)  and photography of the Downton Abbey world. Take a look at the complete list, place your holds and then head on over to The Guardian to take a quiz to find the answer to Which Downton Abbey character are you? My first result was the Dowager Countess, so I took the quiz again and became Lady Mary. I’m sticking with that.