The Lost Saints of Tennessee
by Amy Franklin-Willis
Amy Franklin-Willis first novel, The Lost Saints of Tennessee is a story of family and the struggle to love each other despite of our faults and failures.
At midlife, Zeke Cooper finds himself fleeing his West Tennessee hometown and his grief and guilt over the death of his twin brother, anger at his mother’s misplaced dreams and the failure of his marriage. He seeks solace with older cousins on their idyllic farm near Charlottesville Virginia, a place where as a young man Zeke had aspirations of graduating from the university there and perhaps becoming a writer. Making peace with his dying mother and a house full of sisters, Zeke eventually picks up his feet and continues moving along life’s journey.
Franklin-Willis’ story is southern without being hokey and emotional without being overwrought.
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
by Fiona Carnarvon, Countess of Carnarvon
If you’re suffering Downton Abbey withdrawal it’s time to open up Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy Of Highclere Castle by the Countess of Carnarvon, the current lady of the castle that provides the setting for Downton Abbey.
Like Cora Crawley in the PBS Masterpiece tale, Lady Almina was a wealthy heiress, the illegitimate daughter of Sir Alfred Rothschild. His fortune injected a strong dose of capital that provided electric lighting, modern bathrooms and other amenities to Highclere castle and enabled his daughter and son-in-law, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, to literally entertain royally.
One of her first duties as Lady Carnarvon was to organize a 3 day visit by the Prince of Wales which cost 360,000 pounds in today’s money and involved redecorating and copious amounts of food. Not all was extravagance though. Like the Crawleys, the Carnarvon’s converted their castle into a hospital during WW I. They also played an important role in the discovery of King Tut’s tomb.
This story of the real people who lived in Downton Abbey’s set should tide you over till season 3.