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Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Countess of Carnarvon
4.2 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

bright, breezy and unpretentious in style. (Guardian)

Comfort reading for fans eagerly awaiting the next instalment of Downtown Abbey to appear on our TV screens. (Vogue (Australia)

A loving and faithful portrait of Almina and her world. (BBC Countryfile Magazine)

Présentation de l'éditeur

Lady Fiona Carnarvon became the chatelaine of Highclere Castle - the setting of the hit series Downton Abbey - eight years ago. In that time she's become fascinated by the rich history of Highclere, and by the extraordinary people who lived there over the centuries. One person particularly captured Fiona's imagination - Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Almina was the illegitimate daughter of banking tycoon Alfred de Rothschild. She was his only daughter and he doted on her. She married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, at 19, with an enormous dowry. At first, life at Highclere was a dizzying mix of sumptuous banquets for 500 and even the occasional royal visitor. Almina oversaw 80 members of staff - many of whom came from families who had worked at Highclere for generations. But when the First World War broke out, life at Highclere changed forever. History intervened and Almina and the staff of Highclere were thrown into one of the most turbulent times of the last century. Almina was forced to draw on her deepest reserves of courage in order to ensure her family, the staff and the castle survived. This is the remarkable story of a lost time. But Highclere remains and in this book, Fiona weaves Almina's journey and those of her family into the heritage and history of one of England's most exquisite Victorian castles.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 3360 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 321 pages
  • Editeur : Hodder & Stoughton (29 septembre 2011)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 1444730827
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444730821
  • ASIN: B005O0BRTE
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.2 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°106.544 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires en ligne

4.2 étoiles sur 5
4.2 étoiles sur 5
Commentaires client les plus utiles
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Une vie de privilèges 16 décembre 2012
Par shiloh
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Le livre est intéressant et donne une idée de la vie de la haute société anglaise de la fin du 19ème et début du 20ème siècle. Je regrette cependant, même si c'est un choix de l'auteur, que puisque le livre relate plus particulièrement la vie de Lady Almina, on ne sache rien sur ce qu'elle a vécu après la mort de son époux.
Mais je le recommanderais à ceux qui aime la petite histoire de la grande histoire
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Complete 1 avril 2013
Complet est le mot qui me vient à l'esprit pour qualifier ce livre. Un livre qui n'est ni une autobiographie, ni même un roman, mais une "chronique" disons d'une femme qui croyait en elle, et qui croyait à des valeurs. C'est très intéressant de découvrir l'envers du décor de ces grandes maisons qui tentent, aujourd'hui encore, de sauvegarder un patrimoine et une histoire de famille: leur héritage.
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3.0 étoiles sur 5 Intéressant 5 août 2013
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Moins intéressant que je ne le croyais, mais cette histoire éclaire l'époque et la situatioin de ces grandes propriétés anglaises en difficulté. J'ai appris des choses intéressantes.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 History Live. 8 mars 2013
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Un livre très intéressant, bien écrit et qui donne un aperçu de la vie d'une grande dame de son époque.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.4 étoiles sur 5  1.096 commentaires
527 internautes sur 539 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Fascinating glimpse of a country house and its lady 12 janvier 2012
Par Jill - Publié sur
I received this book as a Christmas gift and enjoyed it very much. I think the other reviewer's review is off the mark and it's duplicitous of "William" not to mention is that he is the author of a self-published bio of Lady Almina.

The author of this book, the current Countess of Carnarvon, drew largely from primary sources in the Highclere archives. She also examined contemporary periodicals and previous family memoirs and bios. The focus of the book is, as the subtitle indicates, Almina's connection with Highclere. So, it begins with her wedding to the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and ends with his untimely death in 1923, as that event marked the end of Almina's time at Highclere.

There is a concise discussion of Almina's pre-countess life, including her paternity (that Almina was in all likelihood Alfred Rothschild's natural daughter is stated plainly). There is also some background on the 5th Earl: his parents and childhood, and a short history of the Highclere estate. The 5th Earl was in debt when he met Almina and in need of a large infusion of cash, which Rothschild provided.

The book goes on to cover Almina's arrival at Highclere as a 19-year-old bride and her triumphant success as a society hostess, which was something Edwardian women aspired to and were admired for. The visit by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) for one of Highclere's famous shoots in 1895 was a major event at Highclere and it is appropriate that it should be included here, even if written of previously in other works. The author describes Almina's extensive redecorating for the occasion (the green silk drawing-room walls were hers) and, using record books from the Highclere archives, the food purchased for the visit and what it cost - noting that the bill came to four times the annual salary of longtime butler (the position was known as "house steward" at Highclere), Streatfield. The author discusses how all this entertaining created extra work for the staff, especially before Almina had electricity and bathrooms with hot and cold running water installed. Of equal interest to me was the chapter on life below stars at Highclere during Almina's time. She describes many of the indoor servants, outdoor servants, and estate workers, their duties, living and working conditions, interaction with "upstairs," romances and marriages between staff, leisure time, etc.

A large section of the book is devoted to Highclere and the family during WWI and its immediate aftermath, including Lady Carnarvon's conversion of the castle to a hospital. The great library served as a relaxing room for the men, who were waited upon by footman and generally treated as invited guests at one of the prewar house parties, giving them a chance to forget the horrors of the war for a little while. Of all the stately homes to serve as hospitals, probably only Highclere had fashionable nurse's uniforms of crushed-strawberry-pink wool. Almina later moved the hospital to London at her own (that is, Rothschild's) expense where they had more room, better equipment and greater access to specialists.

The final chapter covers Almina's life after widowhood, but the theme of the book is Highclere and as she was no longer directly connected with it except as an occasional visitor, this section is brief. As I am not the least interested in Almina's love life, I was not at all disappointed that the lurid details "William" is so anxious for us to hear about are not included.

It's written in a breezy, personal style. The Downton connection is not exploited; other than the title (which is often the publisher's, not the author's, choice), Downton is mentioned only in the prologue (1 sentence) and in acknowledgements. I would guess, though, that Downton fans interested in how the real-life place where the series is filmed actually operated during roughly the same time period will enjoy it. The photos are marvelous. A family tree from, at least, the 4th Earl through the 6th Earl would have been useful.
247 internautes sur 255 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Wealth, glamour, and tragedy - a great biography 29 janvier 2012
Par S. Goldberg - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
I picked up this book because I'm a fan of Downton Abbey, although I knew before I bought the book that it had little to do with the fictional world of those characters. If you are looking for information on the Downton Abbey television show, there is a marvelous book by Jessica Fellowes which will probably better suit your needs. This is the story of Lady Almina Carnarvon who lived at Highclere Castle which is the real world setting for the fictional television program. If you want to know more about the lives of the real people who inhabited that world during that same era, keep reading.

Any biography is a story being told, and each story has a unique voice. In this case, the voice is a member of the Carnarvon family. She seems to draw from source documents such as journals, letters, and other historical references to create a picture of Almina Wombwell who became the wife of the Fifth Earl of Carnarvon. (Yes, this was the same Lord Carnarvon who worked with Howard Carter and discovered King Tut's tomb in Egypt.) This book is told primarily as Lady Almina's story after her marriage, although it can't help but touch on the story lines of many of the other principle players.

While the book is historical in nature, that doesn't make it dry reading. There is scandal (Almina was most likely the illegitimate daughter of the wealthy Alfred de Rothschild), wildly fabulous wealth (Almina lived a lavish and luxurious lifestyle prior to WWI), Egyptian adventures, and ultimately heartbreak as WWI touched almost every family in Britain. There is also the inspiring story of how Lady Almina used her connections and wealth during the war to create a hospital first at her home and then in London to help wounded British soldiers receive much needed treatment if they were lucky enough to make it back to England.

The book also does one more thing which I appreciate as a US reader of this period of history. This book helps set many of the individual events which are taking place into their larger historical context. I think that's important for reading this particular narrative While it is very much the story of one woman, it also a description of a lifestyle which has slipped into the pages of history in less than a hundred years.

Since the book is written by a member of the Carnarvon family, I had expected that the portrait which the book painted to be flattering to the family. I felt that the author did a good job of balancing the good and the bad. The book depicts the wealth, privilege and connections of the family, but it also describes many of their individual faults. It's not the ultimate resource to that time period, but I don't feel that it's intended to teach that kind of history. It's one woman's powerful story in an era when women held little power. Fans of Downton Abbey will come away with a new respect for the real life inspirations of the characters and the period which the program depicts.
113 internautes sur 123 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The book is a treasure trove of pertinent information relating to Highclere Castle 4 février 2012
Par june - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
The lady before was most specific and to the point without any ambiguity.

I purchased the book not knowing just how much it was going to reveal about Downton Abbey which I have been following avidly.

As it turned out, it was fabulously written and told me so much more than I had ever expected. Thank the author profusely. Needless to tell that I highly recommend this to all who are enchanted by the TV series of Downton Abbey; It takes nothing away from this TV drama but greatly enhances the protrayal with so much background not out there for the average person.

Again, I am indeed glad that I took up on the whim and purchased this particular book when I was browsing the Amazon selections.
166 internautes sur 190 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 It's Hard To Be Nice But.... 5 mai 2012
Par Barry Sharpe - Publié sur
Some of the reviews herein are very disparaging of Downton Abbey fans. Since I count the adventures of those characters among my not-so-guilty pleasures, I'll certainly not do that. I will say it is interesting to read about the real people who made Highclere Castle their home. I have read (and reviewed) several books on Howard Carter, Lord Carnarvon, et al, so to me this was simply intended as a source of inside material as well as the DA connection.
I didn't know a lot about Lady Almina so as much as anything that connection with the Downton characters pulled me in. I wanted to see the story of the real hospital started by Her Ladyship.
I was a little disappointed. Not just in the read - more on that in a moment, but in the hospital. The hospital at Highclere averaged between 12 and 20 patients at any given time. That's all. Over 24,000 British casualties a month were coming back to England. But Lady Almina's patients were special. All were officers, many of her social class. Lady Almina made sure she had a representative in Southampton screening prospective patients. She insisted also that her nurses be attractive on the premise that it made the boys more cheerful thereby healing quicker. Imagine that in a diversity context today.
The biggest complaint about this book is the author's clear worship of Lady Almina. She is a candidate for sainthood in this book. She does no wrong.
Many years ago, as a young man in college, I was taught to read critically, to look for bias in an author, to try to discern what ideology he/she is selling the reader. Works showing only gushing admiration in a biography leave out the human side of real people. In that respect Fiona Carnarvon does Lady Almina a great disservice. She presents a character in only two dimensions, never allowing her to come to life. I longed for Almina to sneak out for a smoke behind the castle.
I'll not tell anyone to not read this. There's some good information but....
It stretches one's faith to believe this is the whole story.
20 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Captivating 20 février 2012
Par Caroline Lim - Publié sur
I thought this would be fluff, but it turned out to be the very opposite. Through photos and excerpts from family archives, the focus is primarily on Lady Almina, the Countess of Carnarvon after her marriage to the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Highclere Castle may be the setting for the popular TV series, Downton Abbey, and there are some similarities in events that took place in both the fictional family seat of the Crawleys and the Carnarvons, but this generation of the Carnarvons made contributions to society that have endured to present time.

Almina Wombwell, alleged illegitimate daughter of Alfred de Rothschild, married Lord Carnarvon, into the Herbert family and became the next mistress of Highclere Castle.

While we're treated to an insight into the glittering lifestyle of the wealthy and titled during the late 1800s, there was eventually more to this family than frivolous self-indulgence. It is a snapshot of the times when Queen Victoria reigned over the great British Empire. There are references to the families who live in the Castle to maintain the Castle and serve the family, who work the grounds and the village around the castle, but the focus is solely on Lady Almina and Lord Carnarvon,and later, their two children, Lord Porchester (always known as Porchy) and Eve.

The most interesting portions of the book, in my opinion, is the coverage of England when the Great War breaks. Men from Highclere's staff enlist or are called up, including Lady Almina's son, Porchy. Lord Carnarvon as a result of poor health, is spared, but his step-brother, Aubrey, despite poor eyesight, is determined to do his bit for his country. As the war progresses and more soldiers are injured or die on the front line, Lady Almina's finds her calling. Believing that soldiers recuperate better if they're in calm and luxurious surroundings, she proceeds to convert Highclere into a recuperative hospital, with funds from Alfred de Rothschild, hiring dedicated nurses and doctors. Her unflagging energy and determined concern for the soldiers earn her enormous respect, love and gratitude from their families, to whom she wrote missives, letting them know how their husbands, sons or brothers are doing, and at times, even inviting them to come for a visit.

Lord Carnarvon's passion, on the other hand, is Egypt, and archeology. He is introduced to and teams up with Howard Carter. Despite poor health, he continued to fund and spend the cold winter months in Egypt, hoping to discover important tombs and to increase his collection of Egyptian antiquities. Eventually, of course, he and Carter discover Tutankhamun's tomb and we all know how his life story ends.

Following the death of the 5th Earl, Lady Almina steps down as the Countess of Carnarvon and the reigns are turned over to her son, now the 6th Earl of Carnarvon, his wife and their son, and there the book ends.

Written simply and with an engaging style, I found myself completely captivated.
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