Anxiously anticipating the fourth season of PBS' Downton Abbey? Who isn't after that heart-wrenching season three cliff hanger!?! Well if you can't wait until the January premiere you can still have a little Downton in your life. Just swing by the library and check out Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by Lady Fiona Carnarvon.
The current Countess of Carnarvon, Lady Fiona, gives readers an in-depth look at the life of Lady Almina whom the character of Lady Cora Crawley is loosely based. Almina is a well-to-do socialite whose fortune injects some much needed revenue into Highclere Castle. She adapts well to the splendor of high class living; entertaining dignitaries and future kings. But things aren't always glamorous for the Carnarvon household. After the start of World War I, Almina opens Highclere up as a hospital for wounded British soldiers. Much like Lady Sybil from the television series, Almina is a natural caretaker and is credited with saving many young lives. Once the war is over, she returns to supporting her husband's dreams of discovering treasure in Egypt. After years of searching, the Earl of Carnarvon decides to fund one last expedition with his good friend Howard Carter (yes THAT Howard Carter). In 1922 they discover one of world's greatest archaeological finds, King Tut's tomb. The Earl of Carnarvon is overjoyed to find the tomb, but falls ill shortly after. Almina steps into action in hopes of saving her husband, but he ultimately succumbs to his sickness, spurring talk about King Tut's curse! Lady Fiona fills her book with pictures, correspondences, and the intimate knowledge of what it takes to run a castle.