Share The Downton Abbey TBR: 11 Novels for Aspiring Aristocrats

The Downton Abbey TBR: 11 Novels for Aspiring Aristocrats

Alexandra Carley is a former Assistant Editor at Gallery Books who now works at a private New England art college. A voracious reader, Alex's love for literature spans all genres, but she has a particular affinity for deeply complicated female characters. 

Like all Downton Abbey fans, I’ve known for a long time that a film was in the works. But when I caught a glimpse of that iconic, sprawling estate in the initial trailer I nearly jumped up from the couch to cheer—at last, the post-series finale wait is over! The film arrives in theaters this September. It’s been too long since I’ve caught up with the Crawley family, and I can’t wait to immerse myself once again in the drama of their lives and their loves—and feast my eyes upon their fashion. But how to tide myself over in the meantime? In the words of the dowager countess, “All this unbridled joy has given me quite an appetite . . .” for historical fiction! Sumptuous, richly detailed historical novels (and memoirs) with strong female characters and compelling narrative arcs are the perfect antidote to impatience during the Downton countdown. Here are 11 reads to sate your Downton hunger.


The Orchid House
by Lucinda Riley

Spanning from the 1930s to the present day, from the magical world of the Wharton Park estate in England to Thailand, this sweeping novel tells of a concert pianist and the aristocratic Crawford family whose shocking secrets lead to devastating consequences. This atmospheric story is filled with twists and turns, passions and lies, and ultimately redemption.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Orchid House
Lucinda Riley

Set in a magnificent estate in interwar Britain, this sweeping novel tells the tale of the prominent Crawford family, whose shocking secrets lead to devastating consequences for generations to come.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Downton Abbey TBR: 11 Novels for Aspiring Aristocrats

By Alexandra Carley | September 9, 2019

Put a Little Spring in Your Fall Step: A Bookish Bouquet in 9 Novels

By Amy Hendricks | November 14, 2017

10 Literary Houses That Host Family Stories and Buried Secrets

By Elizabeth Breeden | January 13, 2017

10 Tantalizing Tales to Ease Your Downton Abbey Withdrawal

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2016

Enter to Win These 12 Fall Book Club Favorites

By Off the Shelf Staff | September 29, 2015

Close

The House at Riverton
by Kate Morton

Set in England between the World Wars, this novel tells of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death, and a way of life that vanished forever. Told in flashbacks by the servant who witnessed it all and kept a secret for decades, THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON is the story of the last days of Edwardian aristocratic privilege shattered by war.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The House at Riverton
Kate Morton

Set in interwar Britain, this gorgeous debut novel is the story of a decades-old suicide at an aristocratic manor home, relived through the eyes of the ninety-eight-year-old former housemaid. In a classic case of the servant knowing all, her memories of that long-ago night are the key to shocking secrets and heartbreaking truths.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Downton Abbey TBR: 11 Novels for Aspiring Aristocrats

By Alexandra Carley | September 9, 2019

10 Literary Houses That Host Family Stories and Buried Secrets

By Elizabeth Breeden | January 13, 2017

Story Time!: 9 Books That Feature a Story Within a Story

By Kerry Fiallo | December 28, 2016

10 Tantalizing Tales to Ease Your Downton Abbey Withdrawal

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2016

11 Literary Servants Tell Their Own Stories

By Emma Volk | August 18, 2015

Close

Summerset Abbey
by T. J. Brown

The first in a historical fiction trilogy, this novel is set against the backdrop of a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London. It’s 1913, and three young women—two privileged sisters and the governess’s daughter who was raised alongside them—seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amid the unspoken rules of society and the distant rumblings of war.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Summerset Abbey
T. J. Brown

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Downton Abbey TBR: 11 Novels for Aspiring Aristocrats

By Alexandra Carley | September 9, 2019

Close

The Parting Glass
by Gina Marie Guadagnino

A captivating historical fiction of nineteenth-century upstairs/downstairs New York City, this novel examines sexuality, race, and social class in ways that feel startlingly familiar and timely. The lush, romantically charged story is about a devoted maid whose secretive world is about to be ripped apart at the seams.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Parting Glass
Gina Marie Guadagnino

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Downton Abbey TBR: 11 Novels for Aspiring Aristocrats

By Alexandra Carley | September 9, 2019

Readers’ Choice: The Top 10 Most Shelved Books in June

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 28, 2019

New York, New York!: 10 Historical Novels Set in the Big Apple

By Hannah Schaffer | May 29, 2019

9 Book Club Picks You Must Read This Spring

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 20, 2019

Close

Wentworth Hall
by Abby Grahame

It’s 1912, and the Darlingtons are among the elite class of British society residing on one of its oldest estates. But under the wealth are secrets that must stay hidden. When scandalous satires start appearing in the newspaper with details that closely mirror the lives of the Darlingtons, the family is determined to find the culprit and keep their affairs under wraps.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Wentworth Hall
Abby Grahame

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Downton Abbey TBR: 11 Novels for Aspiring Aristocrats

By Alexandra Carley | September 9, 2019

Close

Before I Met You
by Lisa Jewell

In 1920s London, charismatic Arlette is starting her new life in a time of postwar change, and she’s drawn into a hedonistic world. Years later, in the wake of Arlette’s death, her granddaughter Betty is left with the secrets of Arlette’s past. A captivating look at London then and now, this novel is about two women separated by 70 years but united by big dreams.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Before I Met You
Lisa Jewell

After her grandmother Arlette’s death, Betty is finally ready to begin her life. She had forfeited university, parties, boyfriends, summer jobs—all the usual preoccupations of a woman her age—in order to care for Arlette in their dilapidated, albeit charming home on the English island of Guernsey. Her will included a beneficiary unknown to Betty and her family, a woman named Clara Pickle who presumably could be found at a London address. Now, having landed on a rather shabby street corner in ’90s Soho, Betty is determined to find the mysterious Clara. She’s ready for whatever life has to throw her way. Or so she thinks . . .

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Downton Abbey TBR: 11 Novels for Aspiring Aristocrats

By Alexandra Carley | September 9, 2019

Chatting With An Internationally Bestselling Author

By Lisa Jewell | August 6, 2014

Close

Below Stairs
by Margaret Powell

This true story of a life spent in service provides a fascinating “downstairs” portrait of the glittering worlds behind the closed doors of estates like Downton Abbey. Starting as a kitchen maid in the 1920s, Margaret Powell’s memoir is told with wit, warmth, and a sharp eye.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Below Stairs
Margaret Powell

In this memoir that inspired the BBC hits Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs, one woman tells the story of her time spent in domestic service. With humor and a sharp eye for the prejudices of her situation, she gives readers a fascinating glimpse into the “downstairs” of a long-gone world.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Downton Abbey TBR: 11 Novels for Aspiring Aristocrats

By Alexandra Carley | September 9, 2019

11 Literary Servants Tell Their Own Stories

By Emma Volk | August 18, 2015

Close

The American Heiress
by Daisy Goodwin

Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash—whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’— suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to the most eligible bachelor in England. But nothing is quite as it seems, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo Indiebound logo
The American Heiress
Daisy Goodwin

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Downton Abbey TBR: 11 Novels for Aspiring Aristocrats

By Alexandra Carley | September 9, 2019

Close

The Irish Girl
by Santa Montefiore

THE IRISH GIRL is a powerful story of love, loyalty, and friendship is set against the magical, captivating landscape of early twentieth-century Ireland. It’s the story of two girls on the cusp of womanhood, and a nation on the brink of war.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Irish Girl
Santa Montefiore

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Downton Abbey TBR: 11 Novels for Aspiring Aristocrats

By Alexandra Carley | September 9, 2019

Close

The Remains of the Day
by Kazuo Ishiguro

This award-winning novel paints a compelling portrait of Stevens, the perfect butler, and his fading world in post–World War II England. At the end of three decades of service at Darlington Hall, Stevens embarks on a journey through the past in an effort to reassure himself that he served a “great gentleman” in Lord Darlington, but serious doubts are lurking in his memory.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Remains of the Day
Kazuo Ishiguro

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Downton Abbey TBR: 11 Novels for Aspiring Aristocrats

By Alexandra Carley | September 9, 2019

15 Stories of Betrayal to Read for the Ides of March

By Taylor Noel | March 15, 2017

10 Tantalizing Tales to Ease Your Downton Abbey Withdrawal

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2016

11 Literary Servants Tell Their Own Stories

By Emma Volk | August 18, 2015

A Profound and Compelling Study of a Fading, Aristocratic Britain

By Chris Belden | June 17, 2015

Close

A Certain Age
by Beatriz Williams

As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton has fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. Full of glamour and wit, this novel is set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
A Certain Age
Beatriz Williams

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Downton Abbey TBR: 11 Novels for Aspiring Aristocrats

By Alexandra Carley | September 9, 2019

Close

Thank you for joining our email list!

If you create an Off the Shelf account, you'll be able to save books to your personal bookshelf, and be eligible for free books and other good stuff.

Click here to create your free account.

You must be logged in to add books to your shelf.

Please log in or sign up now.