Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Review: While We Were Watching Downton Abbey

Summary: When the concierge of The Alexander, a historic Atlanta apartment building, invites his fellow residents to join him for weekly screenings of Downton Abbey, four very different people find themselves connecting with the addictive drama, and—even more unexpectedly—with each other…

Samantha Davis married young and for the wrong reason: the security of old Atlanta money—for herself and for her orphaned brother and sister. She never expected her marriage to be complicated by love and compromised by a shattering family betrayal.

Claire Walker is now an empty nester and struggling author who left her home in the suburbs for the old world charm of The Alexander, and for a new and productive life. But she soon wonders if clinging to old dreams can be more destructive than having no dreams at all.

And then there’s Brooke MacKenzie, a woman in constant battle with her faithless ex-husband. She’s just starting to realize that it’s time to take a deep breath and come to terms with the fact that her life is not the fairy tale she thought it would be.

For Samantha, Claire, Brooke—and Edward, who arranges the weekly gatherings—it will be a season of surprises as they forge a bond that will sustain them through some of life’s hardest moments—all of it reflected in the unfolding drama, comedy, and convergent lives of Downton Abbey.  -- Berkley

I have to just say that when I first heard about the new novel WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY by Wendy Wax, I kind of chuckled. I was a late comer to the PBS series Downton Abbey, but once I got started, I was hooked. My husband and I (and later Booking Daughter) couldn't get enough of these characters and we had our own mini-marathon over a the course of a few weeks. So I admit that I picked up this book because I needed a Downton Abbey fix now that I'm caught up on the first three seasons. Just the thought that this book might mention the series was enough for me!

Truth be told, I didn't have very high expectations for WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY. I figured it would be fairly typical chick lit/mom lit; however, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel. I really appreciated all of the characters and their unique stories, and it didn't hurt that the characters watched and discussed my favorite television show!

WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY tells the story of three very different women who just happen to live in the same building in Atlanta. Samantha is a socialite who married for money and security (for herself and her family) but happened to fall in love with her husband. Things begin to spin out of control for her when her brother takes advantage of her husband one last time.

And then there's Claire. Claire is a divorced woman whose only daughter has just left for college. Claire decides to take one year, move to the city, and try to write a book. Unfortunately, she is experiencing major writer's block.

Finally, there is Brooke. Brooke is a single mother of two (her plastic surgeon husband just left her for a more attractive woman) who is feeling sorry for herself and is trying to accept that her life isn't what she had hoped for. It probably goes without saying that these three women becomes friends as a result of watching Downton Abbey together! It's a sweet story that focuses on the strength and resilience of women and their friendships.

So what's not to like about WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY? I can definitely say that it was the right book for me at the right time. I found it to be funny and touching, and it just warmed my heart. I especially enjoyed that not only did it focus on female friendships, but it showed how women actually can support each other and help to improve their friend's self esteem!

Of course, books like this tend to be a bit predictable, and there were times when I knew what was coming in WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY. However, I pretty much knew to expect that and I didn't mind at all -- as long as the stories concluded the way I wanted them to!

I do think WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY would make a fun book club selection, especially if your friends are huge Downton Abbey fans. There is a reading guide available with eight interesting questions. Some of the themes you might want to discuss include class structure, the effects of a television show on your life, friendships, marriage, fresh starts, self esteem and mother/daughter relationships. There are also a lot of food references in this novel which would make cooking for your club fun!

Overall, WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY was a cute read that's perfect for the summer!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


Beth F said...

I just finished listening to this. I too was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Perhaps it was the perfect pre-BEA read??

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I really enjoyed this one too. I also needed a "Downton" fix when I found it.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I have actually never watched a single episode of DA (please don't throw rotten tomatoes at me!). If Netflix got it on streaming, I'd watch. But I love Wendy, both as an author and a genuine human being who understands what it means to be a mom, a wife and a woman. Her books do have predictable chick lit stuff in them, but also very serious topics as well. You would love Ten Beach Road.

bermudaonion said...

I've never watched the show so I wonder if I'd get the book.

Karlie said...

This would be a perfect book for me to take to the beach next week!

Karlie said...

This would be a perfect book for me to take to the beach next week!

Laura Fabiani said...

I enjoyed listening to the audio book. The narrator really brought the characters to life.