Let me first state that, for most of the book, I liked While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax. The characters were real, their problems were believable and the writing is good . . . until you get to the last paragraph. For some reason, at the very end of the book, the writer decides that she needs to tell her readers what message we should take away from the book. As if we couldn’t have figured it out for ourselves. As if we didn’t expect from the title (Spoiler Alert!) that friendships would develop from watching Downton Abbey together. Then I turned the page to see what came after the end of the book and found discussion questions for book groups. I think it takes a special kind of hubris to assume before a book has even been printed that book groups will want to discuss it. I find it a little offensive. Added to the fact that I was put off by the last paragraph, I had a sour taste in my mouth when I closed the book.
The four main characters are: Samantha Davis, Claire Walker, Brooke MacKenzie and Edward Parker.
Samantha married a rich man when her parents died because he was willing to support both Samantha and her two younger siblings. They live in the penthouse suite of the Alexander, a posh Atlanta condo building. She has spent the last 27 years making sure that her husband is happy. She has never told him she loves him because he might not return her feelings. Her younger brother is a schemer and always needs money to back his schemes.
Claire is a single mother whose daughter is entering college. She has sold her house and has enough savings to rent a studio apartment for a year. She has published two historical romances set in the Scottish highlands and is planning to write full time during this year. One small problem: writer’s block.
Brooke, a mother of two preschoolers is the former wife of a plastic surgeon. After she worked to put him through med school, he walked away from her and their two young daughters because she refused plastic surgery and didn’t fit his image. He and his “Barbie doll” new girlfriend move into another condo in the same building.
The concierge, Edward Parker, is trying to make the residents of the building feel like a community. He decides to show the first two seasons of Downton Abbey while they wait for the third season to air in the United States.
I felt like the wrapping up of everyone’s problems at the end of the book was much like watching an episode of Touched by an Angel, in which miracles are accomplished in less than an hour each week. While We Were Watching Downton Abbey is probably a good book for a book group to read, but I tend to steer away from best sellers and “book club reads.” Next time I decide to judge a book by it’s title and/or cover, I’ll read the comments on the back. “A great beach read” is not necessarily a recommendation. I give this book about 3.5 stars out of 5.