Book Review: While We Were Watching Downton Abbey

downton1Three women and a concierge. All residents of the Alexander, a historic apartment building in downtown Atlanta. Each with their own story and set of problems.

Indebted to her husband for his generosity and financial support, Samantha Davis lives a life of routine and self-imposed expectations. Each morning, she wakes up and renews “her vow to make Jonathan Davis happy, his life smooth, and his confidence in his choice of her unshaken.” In addition to the beauty maintenance and hours of volunteer work, Samantha also includes a “much-dreaded-but-never-complained-about weekly lunch with her mother-in-law. Which would last exactly one hour but would feel more like three.”

Claire Walker is seeking a fresh start. In between “sixteen years of single parenthood on a shoestring” and caring for aging parents, Claire managed to write two Highland romances. After her daughter left her college, Claire sold her house and rented a studio apartment in the luxury high-rise. She gave herself exactly one year to write the breakout novel that would launch her career to the next level.

Divorced with two children, Brooke MacKenzie struggles with daily sadness and frustration as she watches her plastic surgeon husband take up residence with his reconstructed new girlfriend in another apartment of the Alexander.

Under normal circumstances, these women would never meet, let alone become friends. But with Edward Parker’s gentle prodding, they meet on Sunday evenings for weekly screenings of Downton Abbey, the period drama that has sparked a worldwide frenzy. I enjoyed revisiting many of the episodes and watching as the women peeled back facades and forged friendships.

Some of my favorite scenes from While We Were Watching Downton Abbey

“When the doors slid open, she nodded as regally as she could and then swept out of the elevator, channeling not just Scarlett O’Hara, but Downton Abbey’s Countess Cora, Lady Mary, and the dowager countess all rolled into one.”

“He allowed himself to wonder why he’d turned being a concierge into the god-damned Holy Grail. Just like Downton Abbey’s Carson and even Mrs. Hughes, he’d given everything up in the service of others. How could he let all those sacrifices be for naught?”

An excellent read and beautiful tribute to the transformative power of friendship.


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