If you are like me, you started wondering how you were going to manage to wait for the start of Season 4 of Downton Abbey about five minutes after watching the final episode of Season 3. The history, the drama, the scandal, the costumes, the Dowager — all of it makes for an engaging and entertaining show that has left me eagerly waiting to see what will happen next. Here at The Hub, we’ve written about Downton readalikes before in a great post that I highly recommend. But if you’ve already read all of those books and you are still looking for more, try these options to fill the void now that Downton Abbey is done for another season.
Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
The first in the new At Somerton series, this book follows the Averleys as they return to their family home in England after years in India. Ava Averley, a teen on the verge of her own debut in society, struggles to find a place for herself in the proper society of the time and in a family that now includes her new stepmother and stepsiblings. At the same time, readers also get to know Rose Cliffe, Ava’s new maid, who also finds herself confined by the class system of the time. Fans of Lady Sybil will be particularly interested in Ava’s efforts to get an education at a time when women of her station typically weren’t allowed to pursue higher education. When I asked my fellow Hub bloggers for their suggestions of Downton Abbey readalikes, this was the one most frequently suggested.
Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl
Set quite a bit earlier in England’s history, this book will appeal to fans of both Jane Austen and Downton Abbey. It follows Althea, a 17-year-old who is struggling to keep her family in their ancestral home after the death of not only her father but also her stepfather. While this may sound like a sad topic, this book is a witty and funny take on her attempts to marry well and in so doing secure a fortune for her family.
Summerset Abbey by T.J. Brown
As the daughters of an unconventional and modern father, Rowena and Victoria have grown up in an environment that offers them a surprising amount of freedom and allows them to treat their governess’s daughter, Prudence, as their equal. But, when Sir Philip Buxton dies suddenly, all three girls find their world turned upside down as they go to live with Sir Philip’s brother on his estate. There they will all have to come to terms with the pressures that society places on them and find a way to regain control over their lives.
The Diviners by Libba Bray
If Downton Abbey has left you wondering about this same time period in the United States, the latest book from Michael L. Printz Award Winner Libba Bray is a great option. It combines a historical setting in 1920s New York City with occult murders to create a suspenseful tale that has garnered great reviews. This one has been on my to-be-read pile for a while and I can’t wait to start it.
Agent Gates and the Secret Adventures of Devonton Abbey: A Parody of Downton Abbey by Camaren Subhiyah and Kyle Hilton
If you are looking for a more humorous option that highlights some of the absurdities of Downton Abbey, this graphic novel parody is just the answer. In this alternate world, Agent Gates (this universe’s version of Mr. Bates) is a secret agent sent to Devonton Abbey to protect the family and England.
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
This 2013 Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Honoree tells the true story of the tragic sinking of the Titanic. Hopkinson brings to life the story of the many passengers, including the often-overlooked third class passengers. Learn the facts about the event that set into motion several important Downton Abbey plotlines. (If you find yourself interested in reading more about the Titanic, try these fiction readalikes, too.)
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon
Written by Lady Fiona Carnarvon of Highclere, the estate where Downton Abbey is filmed, this book tells the story of Lady Almina, who married the Earl of Carnarvon and moved into Highclere at the age of nineteen. The book includes lots of pictures of both the estate and its inhabitants and will give you a whole new view of this time in British history.
Finally, if your favorite characters on Downton Abbey are Mrs. Patmore and Daisy, you might want to try The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines or Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey’s Elegant Meals by Larry Edwards to perfect your culinary skills. Who knows? You might make a pudding worthy of the Dowager Countess of Grantham herself.
Thanks to the other Hub bloggers who made suggestions for this list: Amanda Margis, Annie Schutte, Becky O’Neil, Erin Daly, Molly Wetta, and Sharon Rawlins. Hopefully these books will help to make the wait for Season 4 more bearable. And if you’ve found any other great Downton Abbey readalikes, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
— Carli Spina, currently reading The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson