While We Were Watching Downton Abbey Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
From the author of Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach, a new novel of four friends - and a shared passion that could change their lives.
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 one another....
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.
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|Listening Length||10 hours and 24 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||April 02, 2013|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #155,623 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1,663 in Humorous Fiction & Satire
#5,517 in Women's Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#9,445 in Humorous Fiction
Top reviews from the United States
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While We Were Watching Downton Abbey
by Wendy Wax
First, this book doesn't have a lot to do with Downton Abbey; second, it reads like a book just begging for a sequel (which is OK with me). After both of my sisters read the book, I knew I had to read it too, and I was not sorry. Wendy Wax is a good writer and keeps the reader interested and involved in the lives of three women (and others) who have decided to participate in watching the weekly screenings on Sunday evening of the British television series, Downton Abbey.
The setting is interesting. I have never explored Atlanta, but was intrigued enough by the location to want to. It all takes place in a large, mid-town apartment building called the Alexander. The building, remodeled in the Beaux Arts style, is a trendy and desirable place for up-scale but diverse tenants.
The Alexander has contracted with a new company called Private Butler whose owner is a 50ish Englishman, Edward Parker. He is also the concierge in the building. He believes and follows a moral code of total discretion in serving his residents. His family legacy in England was "in service" at Montclaire Castle where his grandfather began teaching Edward the practice of discretion when he was only 10 years old.
Edward realizes that he and the tenants don't know one another and because he is a little homesick, he decides screening seasons one and two of the wildly popular series, Downton Abbey, is just the catalyst needed for a getting-to-know you activity. Indeed, an unlikely friendship is one result between three attendees; Samantha Davis, Claire Walker, and Brooke Mackenzie, as they sip shandies (lager and lemonade) and partake of before and "afters," including authentic English pastries, tarts and trifles.
Samantha married Jonathan Davis twenty-five years ago when she was 21 and he was 27. Before they were married, her father embezzled from the law firm founded by Jonathan's father to pay his gambling debts. However, both her mother and father were killed in a car accident leaving Samantha to care for two younger siblings. Under the circumstances, she was surprised Jonathan wanted to marry her and help raise her brother, Hunter, and her sister, Meredith. She and Jonathan never had children of their own but Jonathan has always been generous and supportive of her brother and sister.
Samantha appears to have a perfect life. She dresses impeccably, is always perfectly coiffed, and ready to please Jonathan. Even though she is married to a successful (rich) attorney who treats her with affection and respect, she wonders if he really loves her and if he married her only because he felt sorry for her. Samantha definitely needs to figure this out. With the help of Brooke and Claire, she finally finds the answer. (I don't think the author knows much about marriage or she wouldn't have developed this fake story line. In the book, Jonathan did everything to show Samantha he loved her, yet she couldn't see it? I'm sorry, no!)
Brooke Mackenzie is a divorced mother of two girls. She worked three jobs to put her ex-husband, Zachary, through medical school and residency in plastic surgery (a long, hard haul). Brooke has curly red hair and a less than perfect body, but she refused to let her ex work on her. Brooke could never please Zachary and he constantly puts her down. The marriage broke up when Zachary becomes involved with one of his patients that Brooke calls Barbie. Edward (the concierge) engages her in his Private Butler business working with a single father which leads to new confidence and the possibility of a new beginning.
Finally, Claire Walker. She is a single, long-divorced mother whose daughter has just gone off to Chicago to attend college. While still working, Claire authored two moderately successful romantic novels set in Scotland in the 1700's. Now, she sold her house in the suburbs and moved into a small apartment in the Alexander where she plans to spend the next year concentrating on writing her "best seller." The trouble is, she has a bad case of writer's block that she can't seem to cure. And, she worries that her money will run out before her words start to flow again. When she gets involved in the friendship with Samantha and Brooke, she begins to see that she might be finished with Scotland in the 1700's. Moving on to new times and characters seems to be the answer.
A good book always includes characters who grow and change. While We Were Watching is a great example of that. Friendship leads to confession, that leads to recognition, change, love, success, new attitudes and new thinking. Be watching for the sequel that is sure to come!
Being a fan of Downton Abbey made the book more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise. The references to specific storylines and favorite quotes were fun and interesting. The show was woven well into the stories of the women watching as well as the concierge who organized the weekly event.
Very good escapism and a pleasure to read.
BTW, I'm a big fan of "period pieces", but only made it through the first season. It was during a time in my life when there were too many distractions (child's wedding, move, sell home, but home, move again, etc). I was confused by the end of the first season as I have troubles in general keeping track of characters. So I missed season two & let it co from there.
But like Upstairs, Downstairs (big fan, watched most of those episodes before we even had recording devices!), it is timeless. I plan to do some binge watchIng someday & allow myself to stop and take notes. So all is not lost.
This book definitely made me want to see the whole series after having lost interest while knowing I would really enjoy it if I gave it my attention.
Do I recommend this book? If you enjoy stories about relationships, then yes I do. If you are looking for action or murder, you may want to find something else.
The main characters, Claire, Brooke, Samantha and Edward are all so well written and formed that they, like the characters you love from Downtown, are people you would like to have as friends in your own life. Ms. Wax weaves the story of their lives, loves, losses and dreams along with a good sprinkling of Downtown and keeps you interested from the first word to the last. A good author makes you care about the characters, whether that feeling is love or hate (think Hunter) and you will be fully invested in all the characters in this book. The pace is perfect, it doesn't drag, but moves along at a good clip, keeping you wanting to turn that next page.
I think anyone who enjoys reading character based fiction would like this book. You DO NOT have to be a Downtown Abbey fan, though it is is fun to read lines from the show or hear the characters discussed, but it certainly doesn't dominate the storyline or make the book unapproachable to those who haven't watched the show.
I will definitely be reading other books by Wendy Wax and would enjoy a sequel to this book if she chooses to write it. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, a truly entertaining read by a very talented author.
Top reviews from other countries
The book is about three women who all live in the same building but probably wouldn't become friends if it wasn't for Edward the building's concierge, how has decided to start doing screenings in a communal room of the first two seasons of Downton Abbey, ahead of the third season starting in the States.
It is through the screenings and mutual love of Downton that the friendship between Samantha, Claire and Brooke flourishes, and Edward plays a key role too in the story.
Samantha married young and has always been grateful to her husband for helping her raise her younger brother and sister after the death of her parents. However appearances in their marriage can be deceiving.
Claire is a published author of 2 historical romance,s and has moved into the building to embark on a grand year of writing. I think that just about any author reading this would identify with Claire and her brilliant ability to procrastinate!
Brooke is a single mother to two young children, has a dog, and her ex-husband isn't that pleasant. She is a character that I could identify with the most as she just felt the most real to me, whereas our introduction to Samantha felt like a bit of a fairy story.
If you have watched the first couple of series of Downton Abbey then when the ladies are discussing the episodes I think you will smile and nod in recognition, or wish you could join in the discussions. As someone that has never watched an episode, I just let those bits wash over my head, as they didn't really mean much to me.
I loved the various friendships the ladies struck up, and how Samantha tried to deal with her siblings. There is a fledgling romantic interest for Brooke which I liked seeing how it may develop, and also the web of lies Claire was trying to construct around her, so that her writer' block wasn't evident.
This is an enjoyable story, but one I may have enjoyed a lot more had I watched the TV programme that links the characters together!
I have only ever seen Downton Abbey a few times but it is not necessary to have watched it to understand this book, although it does really make me want to sit down and watch every season now. I really enjoyed getting to know Brooke, Claire and Samantha and reading about how they start to bond and form real friendships throughout the screenings. They all have their own problems to deal with and, even though they become very close, it does take quite a while in the book for them to open up to each other about their deepest feelings and problems.
It is a nice, warm, cosy read that you can get lost in and as I said, I really enjoyed it. However, as is often the case, one really stupid error made me quite cross and blighted the whole read for me.
Each screening is accompanied by typically English nibbles - trifles, sausage and mash, scones etc. On one evening they are served Shandy, and over the course of a couple of hours Claire drinks so much Shandy that she is blind drunk and has to be taken home and put to bed. As anyone over this side of the pond knows, it is impossible to get drunk on Shandy because of the sheer volume needed. It is after all the drink we give to teenagers who want to appear grown up. The incident was then referred to quite a few times later on in the book, and it really did niggle me.
That having been said, it is a hugely enjoyable read that is well paced, although the last couple of chapters which rounded everything off did feel a little rushed.
A LOVELY Autumn read.