Book review: 'While We Were Watching Downton Abbey' is for those who can't wait until next year

Published: Saturday, April 13 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

"WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY," by Wendy Wax, Berkley Publishing Group, $15, 354 pages (f)

With millions of viewers worldwide, the wildly popular British period drama "Downton Abbey" wrapped up its third season in the United States in February, cementing its place as PBS's highest-rated drama ever.

For avid fans who can't wait until season four's premiere in January 2014, Wendy Wax's "While We Were Watching Downton Abbey" is here to save the day. In the style of Karen Joy Fowler's "The Jane Austen Book Club," Wax's novel follows the story of three women who live in the same Atlanta apartment building and form a bond through a common love of all things Downton.

Samantha Davis is married to a rich, handsome prince charming who came to her rescue when, at 21, she found herself orphaned with two young siblings. Twenty-five years later, her life seems perfect on the outside, but inwardly she wonders if this fairy tale marriage can really last.

Claire Davis is a recently empty-nested single mom who moved from the suburbs to the city to work on her new novel. But now that her time is completely her own, inspiration just won't come.

Brooke MacKensie is a recently divorced mother of two young daughters, and she just can't seem to get her ex-husband out of her hair. As she struggles to find her own sense of strength and self-worth, she comes to find that happy endings aren't always what we planned them to be.

All three women come together when the apartment concierge, Edward Parker, plans weekly screenings of "Downton Abbey" for the apartment residents. Though initially reticent, all three women find the comfort and companionship they need through the time spent bonding as they escape into this dramatization of the 20th century British world.

Though "Downton Abbey" itself serves as little more than an excuse to get the women together than an actual drive of the novel's plot, a fan of the show will relate to the women's reactions and emotions as they watch, discuss and buy all merchandise related to the popular drama. A light and easy read, the book engrosses its reader in the drama of these women's love lives and emotional struggles. Perhaps most refreshing is that the resolution for each woman comes not from "finding a man," but in finding themselves and strengthening each other through an unexpected sisterhood.

There is mild language and a secene that's that has mildly descriptive sexual innuendo between a married couple.

For those who love "Downton Abbey" and just need to fill the empty space until January, the light, fun storyline of "While We Were Watching Downton Abbey" may help to ease the longing.

Also recently released is "Downton Abbey: The Complete Scripts, Season 1" (William Morrow, $19.99), which includes the whole script as the series went into production, complete with deleted lines. Also, creator Julian Fellows offers commentary on many of the scenes.

Email: mgarrett@desnews.com

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