Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.
I was drawn to this as a temporary fix for my Downton Abbey withdrawal. It's not as dry as a straightforward history would have been, being more of a biography that has been compiled from the personal letters of the subjects, oral histories from their descendents, and recollections of the few still living that were present at the time. It is unsurprisingly a very positive view of the aristocracy and their activities, being written by the current Countess in residence at Highclere and Lady Almina's great-grandson's wife. For example, I was amused by the inironic recounting of the steps taken to protect their archeological sites from "graverobbers" by the British citizens gleefully digging up Egyptian tombs and carting their finds off to England to decorate their homes. The author makes suppositions about the thoughts and emotions of these long-ago people, which enlivens the narrative but maintains historical plausibility. A large chunk of the book describes the state of medical care and technology and the environment of care provided by Lady Almina when she converted Highclere to a hospital during WWI, which, as a nurse, I found pretty interesting.