Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Audiobook Review: While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax (10 hours, 24 minutes) narrated by Orlagh Cassidy: Samantha, Clarie and Brooke all live in the prestigious Atlanta condominium, The Alexander. Behind the Beaux Arts facade of this building, personal dramas unfold for each of the women. The women's lives and stories were each moving in their own orbit until Edward, the building concierge, decided to schedule viewings of Downton Abbey for building residents; as a Brit, he has a special affinity for the show and is excited to introduce it to the residents. By bringing them all together to watch Downton Abbey, Edward unwittingly also creates a vehicle for these relatively solitary women to find friendship and support right in their own "backyard".

 Claire has moved to the Alexander following the dissolution of her marriage and at the same time as her only daughter heads for college. She is newly alone and struggling with all of these changes at once. Claire is also a writer and is on a deadline for her next novel - she spends a lot of time alone in the Alexander holed up in her apartment battling writers block. Brooke is also newly single although her arrival at singlehood was a little more dramatic - her husband left her for a much younger woman and then moved post-divorce with the younger woman into another apartment at the Alexander. Although her husband supposedly did this to be near their two young children, Brooke is at her limit with the proximity to her ex-husband and his new (and pregnant) wife. In addition to facing her ex-husband's infidelity on a daily basis, she also watches his new wife be lavished with luxuries while she slaved to put her now wildy successful husband through medical school. Finally, Samantha has the apartment and lifestyle that everyone envies - tastefully luxurious and "correct" in every way. Of course, beneath that exterior lies some cracks. Orphaned at a relatively young age with her two younger siblings to care for, Samantha chose her husband for the stability and resources he offered with his privileged background. Now, years later, Samantha questions her decision while also trying to make sure her brother doesn't bring scandal to them all.

My Thoughts
This book was thoroughly enjoyable with the added bonus of Downton as a backdrop. The book really doesn't cover much about Downton - just the basic sketches of a few episodes and the topic of superficial conversation among the ladies while they gather for the screenings. It works well as a backdrop - it doesn't exclude those who do not follow Downton or interfere with where you might be in the series when you read the book.

Each of the ladies' storylines is interesting and I liked hopping between them and seeing how they worked through their respective problems. They were good company on my walks!  I wished  my building had events like this - we all live such solitary lives in apartment life, it would be nice to connect with each other a bit more!  Orlagh Cassidy is a favorite narrator of mine and does not disappoint in this audiobook - she switches among the different characters easily and is plesant to listen to.  Whether or not you are a Downton fan, this book has something to offer and entertain.


  1. I'm glad to know I can enjoy this even though I don't watch Downton.

  2. This book sounds so appealing...especially on audio!

  3. I wish my neighborhood had activities. So I can relate to that. How we can be so close but so far away sometimes. Sounds like a great read. Nice review.

  4. I won this book recently and am eager to get to it. I'm glad to hear it's such a good one!