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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