Thursday, May 23, 2013

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax

3.5 Star

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 each other…

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

Lydia - 3.5 Star

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey is quick, fun read about friendship, love, and loss. Even though it has been on my ginormous to-do lists for ages, I haven’t watched Downton Abby yet, so I’m not sure if my less than five star enjoyment was because I couldn’t compare the book to the series, but I suspect it had a bit more to do with the novel itself.

I felt While We Were Watching Downton Abbey had a very British chick lit feel, particularly the small town novels where everyone knows one another and is all up in your business-probably like Downton Abbey itself. I’m not sure it translated that well to a condo though, all cold and concrete, as opposed to the lush British countryside.

Unfortunately, it took me a really, really long time to become invested in the story lines and the characters and I have had a difficult time figuring out why. I don’t think I found the characters as engaging as I wanted them to be and thought them a bit one dimensional. I liked all them all well enough and enjoyed the story, and laughed out loud, but I’m not sure it hit hard enough for me. Instead it seemed to bob along and I found myself wanting more.

I suspect that because it took the characters a really, really long time to let down their guards and become friends didn’t help. For much of the story, the three women were closed off to others. They spent much of their time alone and I craved more interaction between the women because when they did actually begin spending time together, I became fully invested in the characters and the outcome, so it is unfortunate it didn’t happen sooner.

One thing I really didn’t enjoy were the Downton Abbey spoilers. Now that it’s been a few weeks since I read the novel, some of them have faded. But some haven’t. So be forewarned, if you haven’t seen the series, brace yourself for these if you hate spoilers or skip over them. Thankfully, many referenced the early part of the series, but it still aggravated me, particularly since I hate spoilers of any kind-so much so that I love selecting books and then waiting to read them so I have no idea what they are about.

If you’re looking for novel about friendship and love Downton Abbey, this book is probably for you. There are many rave reviews out there, so maybe it was just me.

Thank you to NAL for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

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