The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey, by Jessica Fellowes – A Review

Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes 2015 x 200Will we ever be able to explain the phenomenon that is the television series, Downton Abbey? Watched by millions and showered with awards, I find the reason for its success as elusive to pinpoint as Jane Austen’s lasting appeal. It means so much to so many. In two hundred years’ time will people be watching and reading about this period drama as passionately as we do Austen’s novels?

Quite possibly so. Their common link is the witty writing. Clever bon mots and cheeky retorts never go out of fashion. They make us smile, laugh-out-loud and reflect upon what makes us tick as humans. They are a window into our souls.

The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey, by Jessica Fellowes, is a collection of those fabulous zingers that make this series so “light, bright and sparkling” to Austen fans and the bazillion other viewers around the world. Creator and writer Julian Fellowes must love Austen as much as this Janeite. He certainly recognizes how her prose can sing with humor and social reproof using the same technique in his own dialogue. Whenever anyone complains about anything I am tempted to use a little Lady Catherine, oops, Lady Violet on them…

Downton Dowager Countess Violet x 450

“Don’t be defeatist dear. It is very middle class.”—Dowager Countess Grantham

This slim volume of witty and wise one-liners has been compiled by Jessica Fellowes. Being the niece of the creator does give you the inside scoop. However, Jessica is a tour-de-force all on her own. Author, journalist, and public speaker, Fellowes is formerly a celebrity interviewer at the Mail on Sunday and deputy editor of Country Life magazine. Readers familiar with her work will know that she has also written four lavish coffee-table books on the series:  The World of Downton Abbey (2011), The Chronicles of Downton Abbey (2012), A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey (2014) and recently Downton Abbey: A Celebration (2015). She opens this beautifully designed book with an insightful introduction offering a “cocktail of an answer” as to why the series works so well. The book is structured into five chapters: Life; Love and Family; Work; Play; and Downton Abbey. Not only does it contain many (if not all) of my favorite quotes from characters ranging from the dry Mrs. Patmore to haughty Lady Mary Crawley, it includes full-color photos from the production.

Downton Lady Rosamund x 450

“After four Seasons, one is less a debutant than a survivor.”—Lady Rosamund

My number one choice this season as a stocking stuffer for my Downtonite friends, The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey will help you remember why we love this series so much and prime you for the final season (sob) which premieres in the US on MASTERPIECE Classic on Sunday, January 3, 2016.

Downton Mrs. Patmore giphy

“Daisy? What’s happened? I said you could go for a drink of water, not a trip up the Nile.”—Mrs. Patmore

5 out of 5 Stars

The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey, by Jessica Fellowes
St. Martin’s Press (2015)
Hardcover and eBook (128) pages
ISBN: 978-1250093608

Amazon | Barnes and Nobel | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

Disclosure of Material Connection: We received one review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. We only review or recommend products we have read or used and believe will be a good match for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Images courtesy of Carnival Films & Television Ltd and MASTERPIECE © 2010 – 2015,

7 thoughts on “The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey, by Jessica Fellowes – A Review

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  1. I’m always so happy to get my Austenprose blog……and the review of Jessica Fellowes’ book came just as I was finishing up my Christmas gift list….This will be perfect for my 87 year old mother….Watching Downtown Abbey is a favorite shared activity….Thanks for featuring this review and for ALL the good work you do….it’s truly appreciated


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