Customer Reviews for

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

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

26 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

Biographies JG

It is the opinion of one reader, Will-Cross, that this biography of Lady Almina has been cleansed of some of the more unpleasent facts about the lives of this women and her family. Biographies are almost always about the very rich, powerful, famous, or infamous men and...
It is the opinion of one reader, Will-Cross, that this biography of Lady Almina has been cleansed of some of the more unpleasent facts about the lives of this women and her family. Biographies are almost always about the very rich, powerful, famous, or infamous men and women of history. To regular readers of biographies and autobiographies, it comes as no surprise that not all is revealed within pages of books about historical or notable persons. Few of us would be naive enough to belive in the total objectivity on the part of authors of this genre. However this does not diminish the value of biographies for most of us. Lady Almina did some good in this world, and this book recognizes her good works. The book is not an apology, nor is it meant to be an apology, about how different and inequitable were the lives of those who lived above and below stairs. It does, however, make the reader pause and ponder how those class differences play against the background of the world in which the reader lives.

posted by jgdenver on April 4, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

14 out of 82 people found this review helpful.

Lady Almina Deserves More Than A Nice Book Cover

We should know our betters : know that toffs will not be transparent. They will only tell you what they want you to know and to minimise the scandal they will painfully minimise the accuracy. Despite pointing out the howlers in the captions on several photographs, and...
We should know our betters : know that toffs will not be transparent. They will only tell you what they want you to know and to minimise the scandal they will painfully minimise the accuracy. Despite pointing out the howlers in the captions on several photographs, and the historically flawed text in Highclere¿s ¿ Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey¿ ( after the hardback came out in the UK, last September ) the transformation of this book into it¿s new ¿ First US Edition¿, with the inners unchanged, confirms that view.

The book does have an attractive new cover but it¿s still the content that counts.

It¿s all another instance of Herbert history repeating itself. There is already a less than honourable pile up of Carnarvon-family scribes who put their heavy-handed gloss on the accuracy regarding past members of the clan. Elsie, the second 4th Countess of Carnarvon, rigorously controlled and censored the posthumous biography of Henry, the 4th Earl of Carnarvon, a notable Victorian politician and Cabinet Minister. Lady Winifred Burghclere, the sister of George, 5th Earl of Carnarvon of Tutankhamun fame ( Almina¿s husband ) did exactly the same, stopping the leak of any embarrassing fall out about ¿Lordy!¿ ( the name the Egyptian natives gave Lord Carnarvon in the Valley of the Kings ). In 1923, Lady Winfred crafted an elegant and impeccably worded posthumous sketch of her adored brother, George, but as seen through her very rose tinted glasses, and it made no mention, of faults, or George¿s darker proclivities. Almina was demolished by Winifred¿s blast of the trumpet in a single, dull, sentence. Then there was the womanising 6th Earl¿s ghosted memoirs that stopped well short of fact about his catalogue of carnal cavorting. And, unsurprisingly, the ghost writers have done it yet again with this book, portraying Almina as a saint. This lady was no saint!

But there¿s a lot at stake in only offering up a sanitised edition of Almina¿s life with the rake-in being synonymous with the public popularity of Highclere Castles¿ expansive ( and expensive ) use as the backdrop to a television programme called ¿Downton Abbey¿.

People actually believe in, and follow this TV series as mesmerised as grazing sheep watching car headlamps flicking in the winter darkness of night. But the same extremes between fiction and reality portrayed in ¿Lady Almina¿....¿ are at best an attempt to confuse the masses to make them actually believe the fiction, much as Orson Wells first deceived half of America into leaving their homes as they thought the men from Mars were about to land.

What good features there are in the book ¿ and there are some genuinely interesting and worthy parts ¿ albeit only carefully selected examples from Highclere¿s Secrets Archives- are lost in the colossal wave of hypocrisy by the painfully irritating plotters. Almina¿s true-life experiences are often scuttled, just as assassin or assassins scuttled an earlier biography of her in the 1990s¿ the reason being that on that occasion evidence was found that Almina had ¿strayed¿, the 6th Earl¿s paternity was in very great doubt. The gene pool of Porchey Carnarvon¿s father is mentioned in the narrative but in the wrong places, to bring him out with any meaningful recognition. But you will find this confronted in another biography of Almina, Countess of Carnarvon in addition to the rest of her secrets.

Besides the paternity issue, which remains an o

posted by Will-Cross on December 30, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Excellent story about our beloved Downton Abbey

    We all know Downton is a fictitious place but the real life story is just as fun!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    What a woman! Note: This is not a fictional novel, but a true

    What a woman! Note: This is not a fictional novel, but a true account of the life and times of Lady Almina and those who lived in Highclere Castle. There are a few pages here and there that are not exciting, but overall I'm so glad I read the book. This gives you another look at the affects of the war, and the patients who needed treatment. Also the life and times of someone in her position, and the finding of King Tut's tomb. A very interesting book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2014

    Interesting and informational

    The collection of historical details from Military, genealogy, social and political records makes this work an interesting view into both the life and times of the very people of Highclere.

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  • Posted January 1, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The current Countess of Carnarvon pens an engrossing story about

    The current Countess of Carnarvon pens an engrossing story about Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon set against the backdrop of the early 20th Century.
     
    Almina married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon in 1895, a young 19-year-old. She was the daughter of Alfred de Rotheschild, a product of an affair. Alfred doted on his child.
     
    Almina lived during a dynamic time when change and innovation happened rapidly. Candles were replaced with electricity. She was kind and caring, but what makes Almina such a charismatic character is her ability to change with the times. One of her greatest achievements is the establishment of hospitals and procedures of well care that enable soldiers to recover from World War I.
     
    The cast of characters around Almina are also adaptable to chance and supportive of each other. Her husband shares the distinction of discovering King Tutankhamun's tomb with Howard Carter.
     
    The author's writing style piques the reader's interest by telling personal stories of those involved in Highclere Castle. The Castle also doubles as the Castle seen in Downton Abbey. The current Countess of Carnarvon brings history alive with her tales of Almina, the 5th Earl, their children, the Earl's brother, Aubrey, and their servants.
     
    If Downtown Abbey has drawn your interest, then the story of Lady Almina proves a nice, historical compliment to the series. "Lady Almina and the real Downton Abbey," is a heartwarming read, as vivid as Downton Abbey, the series inspired by Highclere.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    Downton Abbey fans will enjoy

    Well written insight into social norms of the era. Also a great fill for the Downton Abbey gap.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    Great book if you are a Downton Abbey follower!

    Not terribly well written, but the content is fascinating and it presents a fascinating view into the history of the time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2013

    high marks

    I bought this for my mother in law who is a big Downton Abbey fan, she loves it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2013

    Great book for anyone interested in history

    This book had it all. From WWI to Egypt to Upstairs Downstairs!

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  • Posted May 3, 2013

    With being a fan of Downton Abbey I must say I loved this book.

    With being a fan of Downton Abbey I must say I loved this book. Not only did I read things that I have seen in the tv show but I also learned a little more about the real family from Highclere. I am glad that this was written by someone who is a part of the family. I think she did a great job telling the family's history. The writing was done so well that you felt more like you were reading a novel rather than a non-fiction book. When reading this book you can feel the love that Almina has for her husband the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Lady Almina was at her best when she was nurturing people. It was very neat to learn that the Earl found King Tut's tomb, I did not know that he did that.  I felt saddened for Almina when the Earl passed away but she was able to keep going by nurturing once again. It was nice to hear that the real Highclere castle is run like a big family. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of Downton Abbey. 5 Stars

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2013

    For All Those Who LOVE Downton Abbey!

    I love the show and was excited to learn more about the true place and people. Do not expect them to match up, but the true stories and lives were just as interesting and exciting to learn more about. I loved the pictures from their lives as well!

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  • Posted December 30, 2012

    Poorly Recommended

    I expected something different. Considered it boring.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 17, 2013

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