Kerri Miller’s two novels for ‘Downton Abbey’ addicts

Highclere Castle in 'Downton Abbey'
In this scene from 'Downton Abbey' season five, the exterior of Highclere Castle is in full view.
Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Ltd 2015 for MASTERPIECE

After a four-year respite, the hypnotizing British series “Downton Abbey” is back and live on the big screen.

This week on The Thread, MPR News host Kerri Miller shares her Downton-inspired book recommendations:

‘Belgravia’ by Julian Fellowes

Julian Fellowes, the creator of “Downton Abbey,” is a lord, himself, and the author of some deliciously Downton-like novels, including “The Snobs” and “Past Imperfect.”

But my favorite is his 2016 novel, “Belgravia.”

It opens in Brussels, where the Duchess of Richmond is holding her famous ball even as the Battle of Waterloo is about to begin. It then sweeps forward into 1840s London. Societal norms are being challenged as the new barons of the industrial age are mixing with Britain’s aristocracy.

Fellowes writes as the novel begins: “This is a story of people who lived two centuries ago and yet much of what they desired, much of what they resented, and the passions raging in their hearts, were only too like the dramas being played out in our own ways … in our own time.”

‘The Buccaneers’ by Edith Wharton

My second Downton-like novel is “The Buccaneers” by Edith Wharton, which is superb and has an interesting backstory — Wharton died in the midst of writing it. The novel was published unfinished in 1938.

In 1993, her biographer, Marion Mainwaring, finished “The Buccaneers” for a separate edition and literary critics judged that she had done well by the late author. The novel opens in the 1870s as Wharton intertwines themes of social respectability, romantic fulfillment, marriage, divorce and aging.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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