Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey

by Countess Fiona Carnovan

Judy Stanton (03/28/13): A treat for Downton Abbey fans, the current Countess at Highclere Castle, popularly known as Downton Abbey, has written a book about the history of Almina, the Countess whose family fortune saved Highclere Castle and who worked to establish it as a hospital during WWI. Lady Cora Crawley is loosely based on Lady Almina. The history of her birth as the out-of-wedlock daughter of Alfred de Rothschild; her introduction and marriage to the 5th Earl or Carnarvon; their children and extended family and friends; and the impact of WWI on their lives is all very interesting. Not touched on in Downton Abbey is the fortune the Earl spent to fund and negotiate excavations in Egypt, which ultimately led to the discovery of the tomb of Tutankahum. After reading the book, I went online to read more about Almina and found that another biography doesn't agree with the angelic portrait the current Countess draws. I felt that at the end, the author glossed over Almina's marriage after her husband's death and a lawsuit from her new husband's ex-wife; seems there is more to that story that the current Lady Carnarvon shared. I, for one, would have liked to hear the good, bad and the ugly....but felt the book only portrayed the good. Still, an interesting read.
Rating: ***

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