Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by The Countess of Carnarvon.
I'm sure it goes without saying that my interest in the book was sparked by the TV series. I, like millions of others, have been sucked into the world of Downton Abbey and eagerly await the next season. I now own season 1 and season 2 of the series so that I can indulge at any given time.
I was finally able to borrow this book from the library and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The book is about Almina Wombwell who became the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. She was only 19 years old when she married the Earl. In some ways it was an unlikely marriage, she was of dubious standing as the general understanding was that her god-father Alfred de Rothschild was in fact her father. Her mother was not received in society but Almina had won her way into the hearts of many in society with her impeccable decorum and with her immense wealth from Rothschild she became a Countess.
As a young Countess she accomplished everything she set her mind to. She redecorated the castle, entertained lavishly, she was a powerhouse of energy. At the beginning of WWI she realized the need for more hospitals and better care. She converted Highclere into a hospital and received accolades for her well trained staff and level of care the patients received.
Her husband, always interested in Egyptology, was involved with Howard Carter in the discovery of Tutankhamun. The Earl died soon after the opening of the tomb, there was great speculation that his death was a result of the curse of the Pharaohs. Almina was devastated at his death. He was buried on the top of Beacon Hill, overlooking his estate. His burial took place at eleven in the morning and Almina sat with his until dusk that evening. In an age of arranged marriages she had truly found love.
'til next time...