I hope you had a good week last week. Mine had some ups and downs. My son Nick’s anniversary date is always a hard challenge and a hard day, but even the hardest things we face bring some blessings with them. I spent the day and the weekend with two of my daughters (and spoke to all my other children in other cities a lot). And I had a really lovely, heartwarming time with my two girls, with quiet dinners, some relaxing time, playing with our dogs, brunches and lunches, and beautiful late summer weather. It was just lovely to be with them, and a very special treat on Saturday afternoon!!! We went to see the new movie of Downton Abbey!!! And oh Wow!!! WHAT A TREAT!!!
We all have our addictions, some of them relatively harmless. I do enjoy fashion, and shopping, watching the latest fashion shows, and have a weak spot for shoes!!! I love bittersweet chocolate, and always have a bar in my purse for when I skip a meal, which I do when I’m running around or too busy to stop for lunch. I love dogs, and adore my three. I enjoy boats—-not an addiction, but I love time spent on the water. I love the ocean and the beach. And I fell in love with the TV series Downton Abbey from the first time I saw it. Someone gave me a DVD of the first season as a Christmas gift, when it started. I put it in my DVD player with no great interest, but it was a cold snowy day, and I was between books—-and I emerged 8 hours later, dazzled by it. I had watched the whole season at one sitting—-binge watching. It was the beginning of a major love affair for the next 6 years. I have all the DVD’s and have watched them a million times, particularly favorite episodes. It eventually became a real addiction. It was an agonizing wait from the end of one season till the beginning of the next. I got a friend in England to send me the DVDs of a new season when they came out, the DVD’s in Europe are different than in the US, and I couldn’t wait for the American version to come out, so I’d get the English ones months earlier and play them in Paris, and eventually dedicated a laptop to European formats, so I could even watch them in the States. And when travelling, in desperation even watched Downton in Italian when I couldn’t get it on French TV.
I often tried to think of what I loved about it, and why I loved it so much. The characters in it, and the episodes, were beautifully written, and the characters were clearly defined. Hard things happened, but rarely really horrible things. A character went to prison (first Bates, and then his wife Anna, the valet and ladies’ maid in the show), but they were eventually freed and justice prevailed. You cared about the characters in the show, and came to love them. It was always clear who the good guys were, and who were the bad guys. Unlike real life, where sometimes we get fooled by people who appear well intentioned and aren’t. Family and family values are central to the story. Just about all of the characters have integrity, which I also think is very important. It was a glimpse into a long gone era of elegance and style. The costumes were absolutely fabulous and true to the era. SOOOO MUCH care went into each episode, and they were historically accurate. The era itself was fascinating, from the sinking of the Titanic (in the first episode), till about 1925. And the values of the characters were clear, the issues they dealt with were often things we deal with ourselves in everyday life even a century later (problems in a marriage, or with children, or external events which impact us). I loved the humor in it, and still quote the grandmother regularly. I love her outrageous side, and the character was an opportunity to express wisdom. “Marriage is a lonnnnggggg business, you’d better be sure you’re doing it with the right person”. And after you cried in an episode, you laughed. There were many sub plots in each episode, so you never got bored. I loved the growth and transformation of characters over the years (the son in law, Tom Branson, the chauffeur who married the youngest daughter), and even the mellowing of the originally subversive butler (Barrow). The characters are credible and lovable. I got attached to all of them. (And like all Downton addicts, I was crushed when Matthew died—-after a car crash, we saw him dead with blood gushing from his ear, and clutching to denial, I thought “maybe it’s a severe ear problem….he can’t be dead” but he was. And I was shocked and saddened again when Lady Sybil died in childbirth at 23, and the family’s grief was heart wrenching. And I was elated when Matthew finally married Lady Mary. I even loved the hairdos, which were accurate to the period too…..and the hats!!! Everything about the production was high quality from the first episode to the last. And Julian Fellowes wrote it brilliantly. I’ve watched some other series since and enjoyed them a lot, even historical ones, (Victoria, and The Crown), but nothing has captured my heart the way Downton did. I was crushed when the series ended—MUCH too soon for my taste. I wish they had gone well past 6 seasons. And I still watch favorite episodes from time to time.
So you can imagine my absolute delight when they announced a Downton movie—-and there is no one more critical than a fan who knows the material intimately. (It’s why I never write sequels to my books—-because comparisons can be so tough!!!) The movie opened in New York on Friday, and one of my daughters reserved seats at a really fun theater for Saturday, my other daughter had left on a trip by then. Four of my daughters are Downton addicts too. The seats in the theater were huge and comfortable, you could lean back, lie back, in utter comfort, with a blanket, food and drinks were served and complimentary popcorn!!! But the biggest treat of all was the movie—–and seeing all the characters we love on screen again. It lived up to every possible expectation, and more. Once again, brilliantly written, beautifully filmed, wonderfully acted. ALL of the characters were there, no one was missing (except those who had died many seasons before). It’s been a 2 or 3 year gap since the end of the last season, a long hungry wait for an addict———-but the movie is an absolute feast of delight, utterly satisfying. You know everything that has happened in the meantime. It was like coming home to a group of old friends. I wanted the movie to last forever, and they left enough story lines open so they could do another movie, and I hope they do!!! We left the theater totally content, having laughed and cried and loved every minute of it. I plan to get the DVD and watch it a million times. It’s a harmless addiction, which makes me so happy to indulge.
It was a few hours of sheer, total joy. I’m SO HAPPY they made the movie. It’s every bit as good as the series, everyone was terrific in it. And if you’re a Downton addict too, you’re going to absolutely LOVE it. And even if you’d never seen a single episode or season before, they are people to fall in love with, in a beautiful movie. My addiction has been fed again for now….WHAT A TREAT!!! I hope you see it and love it too. I can’t wait to see it again. I have friends in California who were waiting for it eagerly too, and friends in Paris who can’t wait to go when it opens this coming week. I’ll probably see it in all the cities I live in, and will wear the DVD to a nub when I get it. SHEER JOY!!! Have a great week, and if you need a cheerer-upper run to see the movie of Downton Abbey.
They hit one right out of the park—–again!!!