I am very excited to be a part of #DowntonGala, a multi-tiered online event celebrating the S3 premiere of the highly addictive period drama, Downton Abbey. To kick things off, eight authors/bloggers and I are answering the same set of Downton-related questions in our own unique and clever ways. Read on for my responses and don’t forget to leave a comment so that you’ll be entered in our fabulous giveaway of To Marry an English Lord, a book that inspired the creator/writer of Downton Abbey.
1) You're planning a dinner party for the Downton crew - who would be No. 1 on your invite list?
Who else? Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham. It wouldn’t be a party without her droll comments about the guests, the food, the efficiency of the staff, etc.
2) Whose closet will you raid before the party?
Lady Mary Crawley’s. She seems to wear either red or black in the evening, and those just so happen to be my favorite colors for a gown. And while I’m in her closet, I’m stealing some of her fabulous hats. I love a jaunty chapeau!
3) Once the guests have arrived, who are you most likely to flirt with?
Forget the guests! I think I'd have a lot more fun flirting with one of the servants. If a hostess can't exhibit shocking, inappropriate behavior at her own dinner party, who can? The object of my affections would be that one-handed purveyor of evil, Thomas the footman. He deserves to be sexually harassed after all the nasty things he's done on the show. P.S. I recently saw Rob-James Collier (Thomas) on The View, and he is quite the cutie when he's not scowling and plotting.
4) Who will you likely smack before the dessert course?
I know it's not good form for a lady to strike a servant, but if Branson were to try and throw a tureen full of oil, ink, sour milk, and cow poop on me or one of my guests, he would most definitely get a well-deserved smack!
5) Let's adjourn to the drawing room for some not-so-polite conversation: What's your theory on Patrick Gordon aka The Bandaged Man? Imposter or legitimate Crawley?
Clearly a fraud! And not even a good one. The only person who bought his nonsensical story (Survived the sinking of the Titanic, had amnesia, fought for Canada in the war - as if!) was poor, gullible Edith. The fact that he had no trace of an English accent should have been her first clue that she was being led down the garden path. Too bad they didn't have DNA testing in the early twentieth century, so the earl could have outed The Bandaged Man as an imposter right away!
If Vera had died in some violent fashion (shot, stabbed, bonked over the head with a biscuit tin), I might suspect Bates. But she was poisoned, and according to all the detectives on the cop shows I watch, poisoning is a woman’s game. So, I think Vera killed herself in order to have the last laugh on Bates. Now how this will ever be proved on the show I can’t imagine unless Vera stashed a diary somewhere. ‘Dear Diary, Bought some rat poison today. Haven’t decided yet if I’m going to use it on John or myself. Either way, it’s a win for me. Wish I had enough to take care of Sir Richard, too. Still can’t believe I let him trick me like that. Why is everyone so mean to me? <frowny face>’
7) Favorite quip from the Dowager Countess?
"I hate Greek drama, when everything happens off-stage." <Me, too, Violet. Me, too.>
8) Favorite Downton spoof?
There are a lot of great ones, but I’m partial to Dollshouse Downton, which I discovered through a tweet from Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley.) He said that the spoof was hilarious and very clever, and I wholeheartedly agree! I love the character voices done by the two women who created Dollshouse Downton. It never stops being funny that Dollshouse Branson says, “Potato, potato, potato,” every time he appears to remind us that he’s Irish.
9) Now you've done it! You've landed a guest spot on the show. What's your storyline?
I would be a sassy American heiress named Ruby Radford who comes to London with her zillionaire father for the opening of one of their family's high-end department stores. Because Ruby is so rich and fashionable, she's the toast of the town, getting invited to all the best parties. At one of these soirees, she meets widower Matthew Crawley (His wife Mary died the previous year in a tragic curling tongs accident - What? It could happen!) He falls madly in love with Ruby because she's so vivacious and fun (unlike Wife No. 1.) They have a whirlwind romance, get married on the sly, and return to Downton Abbey as husband and wife. The Crawleys are scandalized because Ruby isn't English, nor does she have a drop of blue blood, but they grow to love her money, which saves Downton when the family can't afford to pay their exorbitant taxes.
10) What would you like to see happen in series three?
I don’t care if Robert has to bribe a judge, Bates needs to be released from prison without delay! I can’t take anymore of him and Anna being so tortured and angst-ridden.
Matthew and Mary get married (finally!) and have tons of fabulous sex, which will hopefully loosen them both up!
Edith meets a young, handsome marquess or duke (which means she’d outrank Mary if she married him) who is instantly smitten with her. I would be delighted to see the “plain” sister make the best match out of the three Crawley girls.
I want to see more Crawley relatives. Maybe Rosamund’s children could be worked into the storyline? Or some of Matthew’s family? I think the show would benefit from some fresh blood.
I know the show is called “Downton Abbey,” but I would love to see the characters visit London once in a while, where they could be more social and interact with other aristocratic families.
Daisy needs to get some gumption! I’d love to see her discover that she has a real talent for something that could help her rise up. We already know she can’t cook, but maybe she loves fashion and starts secretly sketching dress designs in her bedroom late at night? One of the Crawley girls could see a sketch and ask Daisy to make the gown for her, then she wears the garment to some fancy party and it wows everybody. It’s not such a far-fetched scenario as Coco Chanel’s clothes were all the rage in the ‘20s and she had very humble beginnings.
And now for the giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a paperback copy of To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace:
From the Gilded Age until 1914, more than 100 American heiresses invaded Britannia and swapped dollars for titles–just like Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, the first of the Downton Abbey characters Julian Fellowes was inspired to create after reading To Marry An English Lord. Filled with vivid personalities, gossipy anecdotes, grand houses, and a wealth of period details–plus photographs, illustrations, quotes, and the finer points of Victorian and Edwardian etiquette–To Marry An English Lord is social history at its liveliest and most accessible.
To enter the giveaway, please answer the following question in the comments section below:
You're planning a dinner party for the Downton crew - who would be No. 1 on your invite list?
Don’t forget to leave your e-mail address so that we can contact you if you win. You may enter this giveaway up to 9 times by leaving a comment on each of the participating blogs. The giveaway will end at midnight on Thursday, January 10th and a winner will be announced on Friday, January 11th. This giveaway is open to US residents only.
Thanks so much for visiting Books by Banister! Here’s a list of all the other wonderful blogs where you’ll find more Downton Q&A goodness. I hope you’ll join us at the #DowntonGala Twitter Chat on Sunday night (details here.) We’ll be watching the premiere episode together while having a lively discussion. I’m sure it’ll be a blast!