To Marry an English Lord: Tales of Wealth and Marriage, Sex and Snobbery by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace ($8.77-$15.95). Speaking of our jolly good Fellowes, he created Lady Cora Crawley (Downton Abbey's Countess of Grantham) after reading this book about American girls coming to England, from about 1880 to 1914, to marry into the British aristocracy. The upper crust was hurting — estate shingles falling on their heads — and title-seeking American heiresses had just the bucks to heal them.
Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear (Elegy for Eddie $12.99-$25.99). It's 1929 when this mystery series begins, and plucky investigator Maisie Dobbs has just opened her own London detective agency. Cambridge-educated but working class in origin, Maisie solves cases thanks to her intuition, guts and ease at navigating England's postwar social classes. Elegy for Eddie, published this year, is the ninth Maisie novel from the English-born Winspear, whose skill at evoking postwar England will make you crave a nice hot cuppa.
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty ($12.99-$26.95). Elizabeth McGovern — Cora Crawley on Downton Abbey — was so moved by this novel while recording its audio version that she optioned the film rights. Now McGovern plans to star as the title character, Cora Carlisle, who lands the unenviable task of chaperoning 15-year-old future silent-film star Louise Brooks through the New York City summer of 1922. The Chaperone explores how different generations of women dealt with cultural overhaul — everything from rising power to rising hemlines — in the early 20th-century United States.
The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones ($11.99-$24.99). It's a dark and stormy night in 1912 when a group of shocked train-wreck survivors take refuge in a manor house in northern England, where a tony birthday dinner is about to unfold. From the estate's narcissistic aristocrats and eccentric guests to its cranky servants and unexpected arrivals, no one is who or what he or she seems. We'll leave it to you to decide whether this speedy read is a mystery, a morality play, a ghost story or a comedy of errors.
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