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Author Wendy Wax has penned eight books, including the novels “Ten Beach Road” and “Ocean Beach,” romances set in Florida beach locales. But the Atlanta resident is such a “Downton Abbey” fan that she couldn’t resist transplanting the masterpiece drama to Atlanta for her latest tome aptly titled “While We Were Watching Downton Abbey.”
The book revolves around three women, Samantha Davis, Claire Walker and Brooke McKenzie, all living at the Alexander, a historic Midtown Atlanta apartment building. Their British concierge, Edward, hosts weekly “Downton Abbey” screenings that bring them together. Like real life viewers, the show has quite an impact on the characters.
“Among Downton Abbey’s many qualities is its ability to make people react emotionally to what is going on,” says Wax. “My characters come together naturally as they laugh, cry, worry and celebrate with the Crawleys and those below stairs. That experience breaks down barriers and they begin looking outside of themselves and their own concerns and for the first time begin seeing each other as more than acquaintances who live in the same building. Soon they find they have much more in common than the weekly screenings of the show.”
It won’t be difficult for readers to detect a few parallels between the show characters and those in the book. “Like Lady Mary, Samantha Davis has married into old Atlanta money in order to take care of her family,” explains Wax. “The younger brother and sister she becomes responsible for at a very young age were also inspired by Downton characters. However, the story is completely contemporary.”
Wax admits because of her writing deadlines, she missed the first season of Downton when it aired. But after spending a weekend marathon catching up on past seasons, she became hooked.
When asked to name her favorite character, she was unable to identify just one. She loves the Dowager Countess because Dame Maggie Smith “gets the best lines.” She adores Lady Edith and is enamored with Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes for their abilities to navigate both upstairs and downstairs worlds. Mrs. Patmore makes her laugh while she is concerned with Lady Mary and Tom’s happiness.
She hopes readers will show the same devotion and root for the “While We Were Watching Downton Abbey” characters Jonathan and Samantha Davis. The married couple of 25 years still grapple with what they mean to each other. Readers may also fall in love with the newly divorced Brooke McKenzie, who is starting over.
“All of the the characters are at crossroads in their lives. The unexpected friendship they form while watching “Downton Abbey” is what helps them get through the really tough times and become the people they’re meant to be.”
Meanwhile “While We Were Watching Downton Abbey” is about to invade the U.K. Orion publishers bought the rights to it and will distribute it there. Plus Wax sent a copy to “Downton” creator Julian Fellowes to his home in Dorset. Who knows where it may end up cropping up because of that?
“While We Were Watching Downton Abbey” is currently available in bookstores. Catch up on “Downton Abbey” news by checking out GPB’s Desperate for Downton blog.