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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Guest Blog: Stephanie Burkhart: The Appeal of Downton Abbey

Just recently, I caught up on Seasons 1 and 2 of Downton Abbey and I loved it. It's a series that sneaks up on you. The characters are appealing, the setting is breathtaking, the historical accuracy authentic. So what's the appeal? What's the draw?


The fictional Downton Abbey is set against the backdrop of Highclere Castle in Hampshire. The exterior and most of the interior shots are shot there. The town of Bampton in Oxfordshire is used for shots of the town. The castle has a rich history and has been in the Carnarvon family since 1679. The view of the castle takes a visitor's breath away and stirs the romantic soul.


Downton Abbey started in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic. Since then, we've discovered electricity along with Carson, the telephone, and an electric toaster with Mrs. Hughes. What I find fascinating is how the characters initially scoff at the changes of the "modern" world, but finally come to embrace them. There's a bit of "awe" in each new discovery that warms the heart.


Downton Abbey doesn't just explore the Earl, his family, and their trials and tribulations, the show gives us a delicious peek into the servants. Each character is unique, flawed, noble in some ways and failing in others. The Earl believes in justice and doesn't like to see his staff treated poorly. Yet, during the war he lost his way a bit and turned a roving eye onto one of the maids. Mrs. O'Brien is a wicked schemer, yet the regret she holds when she thinks of the Countess losing her baby because of her is palpable.

I'd like to think what Downton Abbey has done is blend all three of the above excellently. The locale stirs our romantic heartstrings, the setting appeals to our sense of discovery and the characters come across as real and true to themselves.

Here's my question to you: Who is your favorite character? Why? What the appeal of the show for you?

Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. Prior to that she served in the US Army as an MP. She writes paranormal, steampunk, contemporary, and fantasy romance. Her children's books are published with 4RV Publishing. She adores chocolate and is addicted to coffee. She currently lives in Castaic, CA. Her latest book is "The Secret Door," Book 4 in the paranormal romance series, Budapest Moon.

"The Secret Door's exciting action, paranormal elements, and romance will not disappoint a reader." - Joy Cagil, Amazon Reader.

"I was quite pleased to find an original take on the werewolf mythology and was impressed by the author's choice of location and historical accuracy. The Secret Door is a fun read and is highly recommended." - 5 Stars, Jack Magnus, Reader's Favorite Reviews.

It's 1927 and Lord Zoltan Kristos, Hungary's Minister of the Interior, takes great pains to hide the fact he's a werewolf from the world. Despite his efforts, he's recognized when he goes to the Austrian-Hungarian border to inspect the area for damage from a recent rare earthquake.

Zoltan is accused of stealing Kurt Meklau's witch, Inna, and is recklessly pursed to Volturn Manor, a residence belonging to another werewolf family, the Vargas. After a fight with Meklau, Zoltan barely escapes and his adversary is found dead.

Sophia Varga and Tomas Martin find Zoltan. Sophia is determine to attend to Zoltan's injuries and protect her home, but when Kurt's father, Marcus, comes seeking revenge, Sophia is tested like never before. As Zoltan and Sophia work together, attraction and desire flame between them.

Will the secrets Volturn Manor harbors offer Zoltan and Sophia the clues they need to defeat Marcus and give them the opportunity to explore their feelings for one another?



Melissa Keir said...

Would you believe I've never seen the show? I seriously don't watch much TV. Give me 10 minutes I'd rather read or listen to music than to have the TV on.

Cara Marsi said...

I love Downton Abbey too. I missed the first two seasons and caught a retrospective on PBS before season 3. I just watched the season finale. I'd heard about Matthew before I watched it. I'm so sad. Wonder what Mary will do now.

Your new book sounds great and I loved the excerpt.

Stephanie Burkhart said...

I don't watch much TV because my schedule is so busy. In order for me to fit in the show, I ordered it on Itunes so I could watch it on my own time.

I haven't seen the Season 3 finale but I'm looking forward to it.

Thanks for stopping by ladies.

Marianne Stephens said...

I'm this show. The characters are all so interesting and different. I've watched the "extra" shows about costumes and the castle.
Waiting for the new season to start is hard!

angela britnell said...

I'm a total Downton fan after not watching at the beginning and then wondering what I was missing. Now I'm totally caught up and can't wait for Season 4. Maggie Smith is amazing and you can tell the part was written for her

Teresa K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teresa K. said...

Hi Stephanie,

I Lovvvvvvvve the show. I have to love Mary & Matthew. I also love Mr. Bates & Anna's story. I'm behind on it again. I had all the seasons DVR'd so I could watch them at my leisure. However my receiver on my Satellite went out and I lost everything. I have to order all the DVD's. I watched the first two episodes on Season 3 and that was it.

I love this show for the historical aspect and the beautiful costumes and music. Plus you can't help liking Mrs. Obrien. At first I despised her & Thomas

Jenny Twist said...

Would you believe, I've never seen it either. The idea didn't appeal to me so I didn't start watching it at the beginning and then didn't want to start in the middle. You've made me want to watch it, but I'll have to wait for the repeat.

Paula Martin said...

We've already had Season 3 here and it was compulsive viewing! My favourite has to be Maggie Smith - her delivery of one-line comments is perfect!

Stephanie Burkhart said...

I'd love to see the extra show to see how they put the show all together. I'm really impressed with how the authentic the show comes across.

I love Maggie Smith. Next to Mary, Violet is one of my favorite characters. Maggie really gives her personality.

At first I despired Thomas and OBrien, too but she has grown on me. OBrien's remorse after Cora's accident was very real and that sold me on her character.

If you get a get a chance, check it out. Start at the beginning. I think you'll be surprised.

Ditto on Maggie delievering her one liners. She nails them.


Celia Yeary said...

Steph--I've watched every minute of Downton Abbey. I like all the characters because they play their parts so well.
The wicked O'Brian won't be on the show anymore. For some reason, they wrote her out, sort of suddenly, I think.
It stinks that they killed off Matthew, but he wanted out of the show to go on Broadway, I think. Mainly, he didn't want to be known for one kind of part.
A new man will appear next season--this season for the Brits--next season for us--bummer--and some think he will be the one to heal Lady Mary's grief over losing her husband.
I really wish they wouldn't being back Shirley MacLaine. She was on one show of Season Three, and made rich Americans look crass and rather dim-witted. She wasn't cute or delightful at all. Plus she ate at the table like a pig--very annoying they allowed her to portray the American mother that way.
Thannks, Steph...very nice blog.

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