Downton Abbey season 4 begins airing tonight at 9 pm ET. The two-hour US premiere will be filled with tea, scones, and high society quips—but what to do while you wait? As the clock ticks down, Zola has a few reading suggestions based on some of our favorite Downton characters.
2. Rose by Rosina Harrison
Rose is Rosina Harrison’s memoir of her time spent as a personal maid to the temperamental and iron-willed Lady Astor. While Downton’s own spirited and stubborn Dowager Countess does not have a personal maid in the same sense, this book gives a wonderful glimpse into what it would be like if such a character did exist on the show.
4. The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn
Viewers whose heartstrings were pulled by the star-crossed romance of Lady Sybil and Downton’s driver Tom Branson will regret not picking up The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn. It’s a story of the love between aristocrat Clarissa and Tom Cuthbert, the son of a housemaid with dreams of becoming a lawyer. Much like our beloved Branson, Cuthbert desires more than a life in service and isn’t afraid to fight for what he wants, including a girl who is above his station.
6. Netherwood by Jane Sanderson
Downton‘s Earl of Grantham and Jane Sanderson’s Lord Netherwood have a lot in common. Both are devoted to keep their estates running smoothly, both want the best for their daughters, and both struggle at times to keep their strong-minded and lively households in order. Viewers who particularly adore Robert Crawley’s interactions with the staff will love Netherwood, a novel split between an upstairs and downstairs story.
8. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
It is hard to imagine a Downton without the stable presence of Mr. Carson. Fiercely loyal and almost always adhering to the proper way of things, Mr. Carson is not easily shaken. Mr. Stevens, from Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, shows what would happen if Mr. Carson went a little crazy and decided to take a motoring trip through England.
10. Atonement by Ian McEwan
Any viewer who was swept up in the romance and heartbreak that defined Matthew and Mary’s story would surely enjoy reading Ian McEwan’s novel of two lovers separated by class, war, and a terrible secret.
12. Below Stairs by Margaret Powell
Below Stairs tells the real-life story of the kitchen maid in a stately manor. Margaret Powell has all the pep and drama of Daisy with even more ambition. For viewers who want to get a true sense of what life was like ‘downstairs’, this is a must read.
So check out these great reads, and enjoy your return to Downton tonight!