Friday, June 6, 2014

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey

Sometimes what you need is to gather with some gal pals, break open a bottle of wine (or sparkling grape juice, as would be the case with me), and watch a good British soap opera to bring the bonds of friendship around.   And sometimes it's those friendships that prove to help you become the woman you want - and need - to be.

Thus is the premise for the delightful chick lit, While We Were Watching Downton Abbey.  The plot revolves around three women, all experiencing different crises in their lives, who have moved into a downtown Atlanta apartment building.  The concierge of the building, a British transplant to the American South who runs his own service business,  decides to try to create a sense of community in the building by airing Downton Abbey every Sunday night in the clubroom in anticipation of Season 3's arrival to the United States.  He strongarms several of the women into coming, and as a result, friendships begin to form that change their lives.

Ok, the story is not going to win any literary prizes.  The plot is somewhat predictable and the writing is simple enough.  But the characters are delightful, and the buildup to the big climatic scene where all the storylines come together is nail-bitingly, deliciously anxiety inducing. I think all women can identify with at least one of the female characters in some way, and for sure all women can understand the need for female companionship and bonding over such things as Downton Abbey.  There is a phenomenon among women in which we come together over such stories.  Women need common ground, and they need socializing.  In short, women need each other.  The friendships formed in the book begin to strengthen each woman in a different way and help them realize they are stronger than they think.  By the end of the book, you want to stand up and cheer for each of the three leading ladies for what they have discovered about their lives and about themselves. 

I would have liked to have seen more of the show incorporated into the book's plotline - even though it is sort of the string that holds the book together, it doesn't really play a strong role in the story, and I think the book characters could have spent more time relating to the TV characters.  It would have made it more fun for those of us reading the book that are obsessed with Downton.  However, the story moved along nicely enough on its own, so I suppose all the plot elements served the purpose they were supposed to.

If you like chick lit, and you like Downton Abbey, this is a fun little quick read that would be perfect summer reading while we all anxiously await Series 5! 

Rating: 2 1/2 stars out of 5 (hey, it's not exactly high literature)
Reading now: A Higher Call by Adam Makos and Larry Alexander
1. The Queen's Man by Sharon Kay Penman
2. Follow the River by James Alexander
3. Lost in Translation Volume 1 by John Klein and Adam Spears
4. Four Blood Moons by John Hagee
5. The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George


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