Monday, March 2, 2015

How to Survive the End of Downtown Abbey, Season 5

Can it be possible that five seasons of "Downton Abbey" have come and gone already?

Well, yes, and the end of Season 5 is especially hard to bear, with Tom Branson and young Sybbie departing Yorkshire for Boston and the knowledge that it seems likely next season will be the last. What's a Downton Abbey fan to do?

During the first two seasons of Downton, my own life was so busy, I hardly had time to mourn. But when I stopped working and the show ended and a bleak 10 months stretched before me, I learned to bury myself in another project.

The first year, that project was the long-delayed reading of "The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family." This huge tome took about two weeks to read, and led to more research. I was working on a DIY project or two at the time, and that helped occupy my mind and my time, while giving me time to digest the book and not rumble through it too quickly.

This year, I began preparing ahead of time, by downloading the following books on my iPad's Kindle:


The first book is, according to some reviewers, more interesting than the TV version. I've just started it.

I'm further along with the second book, which is highly readable, and much more interesting than the two previous books I've read by the same author, which were biographies of Vivien Leigh, the on-screen Scarlett O'Hara, and Margaret Mitchell, the American author who created Scarlett.

I often have several books going at once, one for each mood. Earlier this year, I read a fascinating book on the Romanov sisters (The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexanda by Helen Rappaport) so reading about European royalty, who are all related or connected somehow, seems a natural fit. I like history, but majored in American history. I'm filling in a few gaps.

Here are some other strategies for recovering from a season of Downton:

Learn to brew and drink tea. It's not as easy as it sounds. I've been a tea drinker all my life, but somehow have turned to coffee in recent years. There's a place for both beverages. Here's how to brew the perfect cup of English tea.

Plan a trip to England that includes a visit to Highclere Castle. Even if it doesn't materialize, planning is half the fun.

Research something related to Downton Abbey. Read all you can on the subject. I'm so intrigued with the Downton downstairs staff I'm planning on taking that path. What happens to them when the great houses can no longer employ them? How do they climb up the social and economic ladder post-Edwardian England?

Watch the third season of "Mr Selfridge" on Masterpiece Theatre. It runs from March 29 through May 17. By the time it ends, you'll be getting ready for summer and the farthest thing from your mind will be cold winter Sundays watching Downton.

Of course, you can always decorate your office to look like Downtown Abbey.