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Julia Child as a spy? Yes, we learned this when we went to the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. Well worth the admission...many people were spies that the public might not have known about: Daniel Defoe, a ballplayer called Moe Greenberg (I think), Roald Dahl, Somerset Maugham, etc.


Oh, I think you will love Downton Abbey. Best TV programme of last year, imo.

Amanda R.

I just found out that Netflix will have Downton Abbey by the end of January. Whoot!


I just watched the first episode of Downton Abbey tonight, wonderful stuff! Reminds me of The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West.

Margaret Powling

I read - and I don't know how true this is - that Downton Abbey had been 'dumbed down' for the American audience as it was thought they wouldn't understand the nuances of the upstairs/downstairs life as lived by the Edwardians. But even so, I do hope you enjoy this lovely series.

Liz F

Do hope that you are enjoying Downton Abbey - we thought it was an utter joy and can't wait for the next series!
Feel equally guilty about the size of my book collection, but sadly I come from a long line of book hoarders, so I not only have my own collection but many of those belonging to previous generations too - those I can't bear to part with! I am trying to weed out those books I have read that I probably wont read again but it's so hard to judge sometimes!
I read Notes on a Scandal pretty fast too as it is compelling stuff but I have to admit that I didn't actually LIKE it - I thought there was something rather nasty about it as though the malign influence of some of the characters stretched out - or is that me being over imaginative?
Re the spy connection - I am currently reading (slowly) the latest biography of Edith Cavell, the nurse who was executed as a spy in the First World War and enjoying it although it is very sad as you already know the outcome.


I really want to watch Downtown Abbey. I am sure I would liked it a lot. I am curious to read your review on Notes on a Scandal. I read it when it came out and found it great. Very captivating.The movies isn't bad at all either.


Shoot! Missed Downtown Abbey. I'd planned on it, but didn't turn the television on.


I hope you loved Downton Abbey! I LOVED it so much - I hope they haven't dumbed it down for American TV! I was out in Manhattan having lunch yesterday and I heard a couple behind me talking about whether they were going to watch it or not, and I turned round and sung it's praises until they promised me they would see it!


Linda--I'm not familiar with Julia Child's life prior to her time in France, so I am curious to learn more. Very interesting to hear about famous people who have been involved in intelligence work--I'm finding the subject really fascinating.
Cath--After seeing the first episode I've decided it is one to be purchased to watch again later. It's only a pity that I have to wait a whole week to see the next part.
Amanda--It's definitely worth adding to your queue!
Carolyn--I really enjoyed it as well and I was sort of wondering about the Vita Sackville-West book--I will have to get my copy out now as I haven't yet read it.
Margaret--I heard all about the controversy and was quite offended at first. We're not a nation of illiterates with short attention spans and no ability to count as we seem to have been made out to be. After finding out the source was The Daily Mail, which is a tabloid, right?, no doubt they just like saying sensational things to sell their paper. It's entirely untrue--the only parts that have been cut out are the ads, which brings the show down to six hours. PBS here does not have ads. Whatever edits they have made have been minimal. I thought there was a very good response to the silliness here:
By the way--I loved the first episode and found nothing about it confusing--I'm already looking forward to the next part.
Liz--I love shows like this and was glued to the TV--something that doesn't often happen. It's nice to have books from earlier generations--definitely worth holding on to in the family. I'm not very good at weeding--I'm always afraid I'll sell or give away something I'll want to read later. I do understand what you mean about Notes on a Scandal--it's not at all very nice, but I find I can't look away either. I suspect she wanted to make the reader uncomfortable. I'm not at all familiar with Edith Cavell--I will have to look her up--it sounds like a good book, though a little depressing when you already know the outcome.
Caroline--Downton Abbey is well worth it if you can get a copy of the DVD! I actually saw the film of Notes on a Scandal several years ago. I'm not sure if I knew there was a book, but I must not have at the time as I generally prefer to read the book first. From what I recall, the movie seems to be fairly close to the book.
Jenclair--There are still three more episodes and then luckily it will be available on DVD--maybe even better as you can watch it all at once!
Rachel--We are seeing the same film that was aired in the UK. PBS doesn't have ads, so that is what was cut out. I'm not sure how they could possibly have cut out scenes as the story is based on the idea of the entailment, which is not that hard of a concept to grasp. Maggie Smith is wonderful by the way--I had a laugh when she asked what was a 'weekend'! I'm already looking forward to seeing the rest of the episodes!


A book that has a handbook companion. Oh boy, Danielle, you are in for a ride with the Powell book :) I'm sure you'll have a great time reading that. I look forward to your progress notes.


I told my husband about your spy novel project over the weekend and he got all excited about it and is thinking about checking out some spy novels he's been thinking of reading for awhile. That's a lot of words and characters in Dance to the Music of Time!


Iliana--I'm not sure I knew what I was getting into with the Powell! Still, it's good so the handbook should just provide a bit extra information I hope. You will be hearing about this one all year long I suspect!
Stefanie--You'll have to tell me what your Bookman picks up to read. I am always looking for more reading suggestions. And I am quite enjoying the books I've picked so far--this is turning out to be a fun little project I've started. I had no idea four long books could add up to so much! I'll never be able to keep track of so many characters, so the handbook will come in handy.


Sisterhood of Spies sounds rather interesting. I did know that Julia was a spy, along with a whole cadre of other notables, as someone else mentioned.

I do have to say how much I enjoyed Downton Abbey Sunday night. Someone else mentioned it was "dumbed down" for the US audience, which I also read somewhere and am VERY happy to see in your response that it is simply not so. I will definitely be plopped in front of the tv for the next episode, with a "do not disturb" sign for dear ol' hubby, who likes to come in and gab. Wonderful production.


I read The Metropolis Case, too, my review posting on the thirteenth. I look forward to discussing it with you and hearing your thoughts. We loved Downton Abbey last night. PBS rarely fails to disappoint, but I especially love their period pieces such as that and the Jane Austen series they had last Winter.


Last year I read two books, one of which had been on my shelves twenty years and the other, almost twenty-five! I'm all for hanging onto them until their moment in the spotlight arrives. Do hope you enjoyed Downton Abbey - that was such a big hit over here, and I think it would be up your street!


Oh my. What is it about a series that has a handbook that makes the series instantly and immediately more enticing!? I think I actually bought the handbook for the Dorothy Dunnett series before I'd bought any of the novels. ::hangs head::


Penny--How did I miss that about Julia? What a fascinating woman--I really need to read a bio of her I think! As for Downton Abbey--I think the essentials are all there from what I've read. There may have been a bit of editing, but the original article that implied it had been dumbed down was based on the fact that two hours had been cut from the show. What they cut were the ads. Since the premise seems to be about inheritance I'm not sure how much you could cut without losing all the flavor of the show. I saw on the PBS website you can also download the original BBC production as it was aired in the UK. I'd be curious to compare the two.
Bellezza-I will bookmark your review on the 13th. I try not to read reviews when I am reading something, but I am most curious to hear what you thought of it. I'm wondering if you have to be more of an opera fan to really love the story. Still, it's early days for me and I need to give the story time. I'm not really familiar with opera and I find my mind wandering a bit when reading. I've been thinking of getting something by Maria Callas or the opera Tristan and Isolde to get me more in the mood--listen while reading sort of thing. And I love PBS/Masterpiece Theater, too. They usually have really good lineups. I bought several of the films from their Austen season.
Litlove--I love browsing my shelves and picking up books that have been sitting there for a while--it's amazing what treasures I can find--books I forgot I even had. I loved the first episode of Downton Abbey. I think I will have to break down and order the film to have on hand!
BuriedinPrint--I like the feeling of losing yourself in a nice big chunky novel--with twelve books in this one there is lots of losing yourself to be had! The handbook sits on my desk at work--I need to take a really good look at it. Oh, I have the handbooks for the Dorothy Dunnett books, too. There are two of them! I have yet to read any of the books. (Also hanging head). Maybe that will be my next big project!


The Dec/Jan issue of MORE magazine has a small collection of letters between Julia Child and her friend Avis DeVoto where she explains meeting her husband through her job at the OSS: "not as a spy, unfortunately, but in charge of all the files with the euphemistic title of Registrar." Paul worked there making "war rooms for Wedemeyer, Mountbatten, etc." The letters are really quite fascinating, and I'd love to get the book, titled "As Always, Julia" by Joan Reardon.

Another book you might like in the spy vein is Touchstone by Laurie King. I don't know if you've read that one, but I enjoyed it quite a lot (set in post WWI England).

Dorothy W.

My book-buying habits have changed utterly in the last decade or so. I used to not buy many at all, mostly books for school, and I would only buy a book when I was actually ready to read it. But no more! Now Hobgoblin and I accumulate books whenever we can. I like it that way, although if we ever move (which we probably will, although not soon), it will be a royal pain. I will be saving money to pay movers!


Denise--I'm not familiar with MORE magazing--I will have to google it and see if I can get a copy. I think I need to read more about Julia--she seems as though she lived such an interesting life--outside the whole cooking thing (which is interesting enough!). That's sort of romatic that she met her husband through the OSS. The movie Julie/Julia showed them as having a very happy marriage--very nice to think about. And I've read some of the Mary Russell mysteries by Laurie King--I've seen Touchstone, but I guess I didn't look to see what it was about since it wasn't a Mary Russell story. Now I will go look and likely add it to my wishlist--thanks! Those interwar years are what I'm most interested in these days.
Dorothy--It's interesting to see how your book buying habits have changed over the years. It's nice to know you have some really good books to pick up later on whim when the mood hits you. Less said about moving books the better, though. I've moved a few times and each time I seem to have even more books as I move to slightly bigger spaces. It's worth it to pay someone to be able to keep all those books! :)


I did, I did! I had just finished reading The Remains of the Day so it was very timely. I really enjoyed it and can't wait for Sunday night again!


Lesley--Wasn't it good? I can't wait to see part two as well. I think this is one I'll have to purchase. I think the DVD will have all the cut scenes as well. Remains of the Day is a wonderful book--it's about time I reread it, I think.


I hope you enjoyed Downton! I just bought the US/Canadian format DVD for a friend over the seas and you can get a PBS version that has all six episodes as they are. Be glad you didn't get ads - there were so many in the first, longer episode there were complaints.


Jodie--I'm loving it! I was so glued to the TV on Sunday that I hadn't noticed the time and was disappointed when the episode ended. I am definitely going to buy the DVD and will be happy to see whatever scenes they cut from the original. And it is very nice that PBS does not show ads--it is the only regular (free) channel that is ad free these days.

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