Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Downtown Meets Downton Abbey

Downtown holds a special place in every citizen's heart. It's usually the place where townsfolk go to meet at the local park, city hall, or court yards overflowing with quaint store fronts. Most anyone in the world can name their favorite downtown. For me personally, one in particular comes to mind. Lawrence, Kansas.

Lawrence was a magnet for conflict from newspaper wars in the 1850's to August 21, 1863, when William Quantrill and 300-400 Confederate guerillas rode into town, killing 150-200 people. Lawrence was burned to the ground. What stands today memorializes the past by bringing it to life in the restored businesses, walking areas, and restaurants which survive. I feel a connection to Lawrence, Kansas. But that's not all.

While everyone has a favorite downtown, does everyone know about Downton? Yes, I'm talking about Downton Abbey, my addiction, complete with the Dowager Duchess Lady Grantham, her son, Lord Grantham, his wife, Cora, and their daughters, Lady Mary, Lady Edith, and Lady Sybil.

To those who've lived on a deserted island for the past three years, the first season of Downton Abbey was set in the early 1900's just after the Titanic sank, killing Lord Grantham's only living male heirs. He never had any sons, you see. Per the times, that was such a nasty business, so he was forced to rely on distant cousins to resume the care of Downton Abbey. When only one distant male relative could be found, that man was brought to Downton, in the hopes of taking the yoke of responsibility for the manse upon his shoulders. (Phffftt! It was also rumored that Lord Grantham and the Dowager Duchess had high hopes Matthew Crawley would marry Lady Mary, thereby keeping Downton in the family.)

Oh, the injustice! Lady Mary, you see, had already experienced FAMOOK!!!! Oh dear, it sounds like Famook, but I'm embarrassed to say, the gent's name is actually spelled Pamuk. Why, the injustice, you ask? Well, Pamuk, that handsome stranger who came to Downton for the weekend, died in Lady Mary's bed during a tryst. (Horrors!!!) As a result, she and her mother had to conceal the fact that Mary had killed Pamuk with the violence of her affections. Would you carry a dead man's body to another room in a stately manse to protect your daughter's good name and while doing so, keep the news from the prying eyes of the servants? (Someone get me the smelling salts!!!)

Well, as you can guess, many wonderful stories and side-stories about the family upstairs and the servants below stairs, have come to pass in the past three seasons. (Yes, we're already in the middle of Season three!) War has come and gone. Characters have been born, introduced, and killed off. Downton has been used as a home for wounded soldiers. Hemlines have gone from floor length to mid-calf. Hair styles, previously artfully arranged, inched up the neck to shorter fashions. By the by, through all of this, an overwhelming love for Edwardian history and costume has grown here and across the pond, giving Julian Fellowes and the cast of Downton Abbey a huge following.

Julian Fellowes, who also happens to be a Baron, is at the helm of this fabulous historical saga. If you watch this series, you already know how carefully he crafts each and every character, the artful interactions, and life-altering roles each plays to the primary character, the manse itself. As a writer, I'm continually impressed with the storylines, wity and intriguing dialogue, while interwoven plots web throughout the series. "I simply can't get enough!"

So what do downtowns and Downton Abbey have in common? Historically speaking, everywhere you go, life sources permeate the land you walk on, the very air you breath. Someone has experienced suffering, happiness, birth and death, war and peace, friendships and hatred. Every aspect of this is artfully portrayed in Downton Abbey.

Downtown binds citizens together via the experiences they've shared. Downton Abbey is an inspirational piece of history centered around a manse that binds generations of a family together.

Here's where I come in. My job, because I've chosen to accept it, is to bind emotions, travails, and characters's backstories into a pleasing adventure for the senses in every page of the books I write. To create something a reader won't want to put down by including everything I've learned from my own experiences and by watching Downton Abbey. Hey, what can I say. Lady Mary has FAMOOK!!! And Downton Abbey holds the violence of my affections.

Is there a downtown city you like most? Do you watch Downton Abbey? If so, who's your favorite character and why?

Katherine Bone


M.V.Freeman said...

Excellent Kathy!
I haven't seen the show, I intend to watch it one of these days.....

Katherine Bone said...

Thank you, M.V.!!! My offer still stands. Have DVD. Will loan out. ;)

M.V.Freeman said...


Meda White said...

Some of my favorite downtowns are in South Georgia, where I grew up. We call it the square though. There is a town square and in the center sits the courthouse and government offices. The outer square has merchants, businesses, restaurants, etc. Walk a little ways down the side streets and encounter more of the same and sometimes a theater or other entertainment venue. So quaint.

I've never watched the show b/c I didn't hear about it until recently and I want to watch from the beginning. Sounds intriguing.

Katherine Bone said...

Hi Meda!!! You have a great opportunity to watch all the episodes back to back. Woot!!!

Oops! And my bad. Totally forgot "town square." But downtown sounded so cool with Downton Abbey. ;)

Suzanne Johnson said...

Ah, sadly, I've missed this whole phenomenon, although you make it sound awfully tempting! I seem to only have the attention span to watch reality shows.

Julie Johnstone said...

Great blog post, Kathy. I can't believe you wrote that last night so late! I looooove Downton Abbey! I know you're shocked. My favorite character is the Dowager Duchess. She's witty and conniving yet kind.She says the most hilarious things! I grew up in a very small town, and I have very fond memories of the downtown, if you could call it that. Once a year the town had a weekend where vendors would set out tables and sale their goods. We kids would run crazy! You can imagine the fun I had. My mom would give my brother and I money and let us go. You could in that town without worries. Or at least you could then!

Katherine Bone said...

You'd enjoy this series, Suzanne! Very well written and superbly acted. Hope you give it a try. ;)

Katherine Bone said...

Thanks for the compliment, Julie!!!

The Dowager is a pistol, isn't she? Loved the pudding line last week. My favorite character was Lady Sybil. Sadly, she departed two weeks ago. What a shock!!! But that's what makes us keep coming back. Who do you think killed Mrs Bates? Lol!!!

Small towns are great for kids. I grew up in military bases all over the world. We locked our cars, doors, everything because we didn't know our neighbors. I long for downtown/town squares and the relationships I missed. ;)

Nancy S. Goodman said...

great post!!Of course it's the great Maggie Smith who is thebest!!

Katherine Bone said...

I agree, Nancy! Dame Maggie Smith is on her game in this series!!!

Louisa Cornell said...

I haven't watched Downton Abbey yet. I hear good things and bad things about it. The one consistently good thing, of course, is Dame Maggie Smith's performance. I hear she's a hoot and I have watched some YouTube videos of some of the outrageous things she says.

I like small town downtowns. Wetumpka's downtown is quaint and has lots of character. The downtown of the little village in England where I lived as a child was something magical to my brothers and me. And downtown Salzburg is still a little Austrian village surrounded by a big city.

Lexi said...

Love, love, love, Downton Abbey. Love the stories, the characters, the costumes, the countryside, and, of course, the gi-normous and gor-guh-mus house. Still a little miffed about the way they killed off a certain character. Reminded me of Ned Stark in A Game of Thrones. Wait, you can't kill HIM, he's a GOOD guy! Thunk!

I love downtown Wetumpka. I think it has such a nostalgic feel to it.

Chris Bailey said...

Haven't yet seen Downton Abbey. Love Charleston, SC, though!