20 Incredible Must-Read Books Like Downton Abbey For 2023
Have you seen the trailer for the newest Downton Abbey movie? It is so spectacular, that it reopened the hole in my heart from when the series first ended… which means it must be time to dive into some books like Downton Abbey.
If, like me, you miss the likes of Mary, Cora, Robert, Anna, Bates, Matthew (RIP), Branson and so many other characters we hope the books below will bring you comfort.
As you learn about class divides, the benefits, and struggles of being an aristocrat, and how war can change everything, you will be reminded of the social and historical lesson Downton taught us.
The series takes place from the Progressive Era, when the titanic sunk, through WWI, and into the Jazz Age. And now, it’s headed down to the French Riviera! The books like Downton Abbey below are separated by era or subject, so you can pick which books you like the best.
If you love Julian Fellowes newest period drama, The Gilded Age, you will love this Gilded Age Book list.
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Books like Downton Abbey Set in the Progressive Era
The Heiress Gets a Duke by Harper St. George
Like most of the rest of the world, I binged Netflix’s Bridgertons on Christmas Day. The regency romantic drama ended and I needed more! I immediately turned to this book to fill my need for a historical fiction romance.
It takes place in the Gilded Age when a Duke needs to marry an American heiress to get her dowry to help restore his estates to their former glory.
Are you a fan of Bridgertons? Check out this post of books just like it!
American Duchess by Karen Harper
This particular novel spans the same time period at Downton Abbey. It too features an American Heiress wed in London society to infuse a ducal estate with much-needed funds.
Unlike Lady Cora, the heroine of this story is a real historical figure. Consuelo Vanderbilt’s wedding to the Duke of Marlborough was considered the wedding of the century at the time, but their marriage left something to be desired.
Consuelo is forced to take up the mantle of duty for her estate and title, and in doing so, she finds her inner strength.
Do you love books about royalty? Then you will love our list of more than 30 of our favorite Royal Reads!
The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
Goodwin’s debut novel is about Cora Cash, an American Heiress on the hunt for a titled husband and a big estate. But once she gets everything she wished for, she needs to decide if it’s what she wants after all.
When I first saw Downton Abbey, I had to look to see if this was the same Cora from the show. I thought for a brief moment that this book must have been a sort of prequel to the show.
I was incorrect, but it is certainly the perfect book for Downton fans today. You can clearly see that Goodwin would go on to great things with this fantastic debut.
Seven Days in May by Kim Izzo
Like the movie Titanic, the characters are made up; however, the events surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania are true. The story is centered around two sisters who go aboard the ship and a third who works with the government receiving messages intercepted from Germany.
I think of this book in my head as a movie that is somewhere between The Hunt For Red October and the Titanic. This book would be a fantastic movie!!!! It moved quickly, kept me on my toes and had a love story as well.
Books like Downton Abbey Set During WWI
Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig
Thanks to William Morrow for my review copy. All opinions are my own. This is an incredible novel about the women of Smith College who went to help French war victims on the war front. The band of 15 women in this novel is based on the 18 real-life heroes of Smith College.
These ladies started from scratch to help those ravaged by war only to have the war come back and destroy the lands around them again. But they never faltered in their quest to help the war-torn villages of women and children impacted by the war. The book gives a well-rounded feeling of what these women needed to do to save the lands and the people. 5 stars.
Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
This is one of the books set in Paris that you will also find on our list of books set in France and it is unlike any other. It is written entirely in letter form between two friends during WWI.
You will fall in love with the characters as they fall for each other.
Evie is struggling to find a way to help out during WWI, while Thomas, her brother’s best friend, is struggling with the realities of battle. I just recently started reading WWI books and this one is high on the list.
For more books like these, check out our list of Books about WWI.
Books Like Downton Abbey Set in the Jazz Era
Hotel Portofino by J. P. O’Connell
The newest Downton Abbey movie has the Crawleys headed to the south of France for a vacation! It makes me thrilled to have read this charming story of a Hotel in Portofino, Italy during the years just after WW1.
We get to see the new, British owners of the Hotel Portofino settle into running a hotel with their adult children. The guests are eccentric, there is a mystery around a piece of stolen art, and some romantic relationships come together and fall apart. It’s the perfect hotel novel!
In short, it’s a family drama book set in Italy and is perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, plus, it’s being turned into a show on PBS as well!
Love book adaptations? We have a list of 50+ movie and TV adaptations coming in 2023 and beyond.
The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey
Set in the dual timeline of 1925 and 1936, this story is perfect for fans of Sybil and Branson’s love story. In 1936, Alice is stuck at her stuffy grandparent’s estate while her parents are abroad.
Her mother, Selina, sets her on a treasure hunt through the grounds, to reveal her own childhood adventures. But back in 1925, we see her falling in love with a man that is below her station.
This heartbreaking love story is an epic novel worth enjoying over a long weekend if you are looking for books like Downton Abbey.
The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull
Set after World War 1 in London, this book is perfect for those who loved the royal pageantry of the first Downton Abbey movie.
Lady Thelma Furness was the woman before Wallis Simpson. History remembers Wallis as the woman for whom King Edward VIII gave up his throne. In this book, we get to see King Edward’s relationship with Thelma and why it unraveled leading him into Wallis’s arms.
Thelma is herself the aunt of Gloria Vanderbilt and a great-aunt to Anderson Cooper. There was a lot of juicy info in this historical fiction. Of all the books like Downton Abbey, this might be my favorite on audio!
Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Are you a fan of Rose’s storyline? Well, our swinging-dancing, jazz-loving, rebellious debutante would be perfectly happy inside Fitzgerald’s famed novel.
The book might take place in America, but the same ideas of the class divide and resistance to change in the most opulent of settings could be felt in England too.
Daisy and Gatsby’s story still seems so relevant today too. This tragic love story is a classic for a reason.
Downstairs Books Like Downton Abbey
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
Some YA books are incredibly appealing to adult readers. The latest Reese’s Book Club pick is the story of a lady’s maid turned advice columnist. Jo Kuan must hide her true identity because of the blatant racism and sexism that was so prevalent.
This is a well-written and sometimes heartbreaking YA historical fiction book that will have you rooting for Jo. If you are looking for books like Downton Abbey that cover the downstairs part of these giant houses, this is the book for you!
Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict
We saw the line between servant and master crossed on Downton (Sybil and Branson 4EVA) and this book has the same premise. Clara Kelly becomes a Lady’s Maid in the home of Andrew Carnegie and their love begins to bloom.
While the story revolves around Andrew Carnegie’s housemaid and their fictional relationship, it was fascinating to learn about life in Pittsburg during the 1860s. This story particularly focuses on the different social classes of the American Industrial Revolution.
The Parting Glass by Gina Marie Guadagnino
Set in NYC this is the story of Lady’s maid Mary and her employer, wealthy New York socialite, Charlotte. Charlotte is a society darling carrying on a secret affair with a stable groom, who happens to be Mary’s brother.
Mary hides her true identity as an Irish lass who finds love in the arms of a prostitute. Soon both of their secrets begin to unravel and Mary must decide exactly where her loyalty lies.
I like this look at society life from the perspective of the “staff” it feels very below the stairs at Downton. If you are a Thomas Barrow fan, you’ll like this book.
More Fiction Books like Downton Abbey
Our Kind of People by Carol Wallace
This is a family drama set in gilded age NYC. The family loses and then regains their fortune in transit speculation when their girls are becoming debutantes.
There are love stories but it’s really about how society was changing at the time with the old money vs. the newly rich. The author wrote a non-fiction book that was used for reference with Downton so she knows her stuff. I loved it!
This book made me remember how much I love to read historical fiction books set in this era. It’s the perfect addition to our list of books like Downton Abbey.
Belgravia by Julian Fellowes
We had to include a Julian Fellowes book on the list. He is the creator of Downton Abbey after all, but deciding which one was considerably harder. We decided to go with Belgravia because it had a little something of everything.
The class divide is strong but breaking, there is a star-crossed romance, a secret 25 years in the keeping, and descriptions that will dazzle the mind. I felt like I was swept into this world and I didn’t want to leave it.
The Lake House by Kate Morton
Kate Morton’s sweeping novel is set a bit later than Downton Abbey, but the large home and noble family depicted could easily be the Crawley’s in the near future. This particular story takes place in 1933 on the night of a Midsummer Eve party when a child goes missing.
Devastated by the loss, the Edevane family pack up their country estate and never return. 70 years in the future, a local detective stumbles upon the case and figures out exactly what happened that fateful night.
As always, Morton’s descriptions transport you into the story and the Edevanes and their estate come alive.
For more books like these, check out our list of Kate Morton Books Ranked.
Non-Fiction Books Like Downton Abbey
The Women of Rothschild by Natalie Livingstone
Natalie Livingstone laid out the rise of the Rothschild family through the lens of the women in the family. Each of the women profiled left an indelible mark on their legacy and success.
Meticulously researched, and spanning two centuries, this non-fiction book had me yearning to watch Downton Abbey or another period drama to immerse myself in the various eras.
The Season: A Social History of the Debutante by Kristen Richardson
I was looking for a non-fiction read when I stumbled across the gorgeous cover of this book. I’m a huge fan of the period romance and have read my fair share of coming-out parties, debutante balls, and other aristocratic functions.
I thought this book would help me understand more about the customs of the monied elite. Books like Bridgerton and others on this are filled with references to the rules of society that his book explains.
I learned all I would ever need to know on the topic. I found it to be interesting but at times a bit dry, still it gave me a better understanding of the crazy rules.
Maiden Voyages by Sian Evans
Maiden Voyages looks at the ladies who worked Ocean Liners like the Titanic and the unbelievable challenges they faced. I was in awe as I listened to this story of ships being sunk by icebergs and wartime submarines.
The stories of unruly passengers, hurricanes, and the sacrifices of leaving their families to help others were unbelievable. I was so engrossed that I kept forgetting the book was non-fiction.
If you love women’s history, the history of travel, stories about the Titanic, or books like Downton Abbey, this is the book for you!
Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman
Empty Mansions reads like a novel for sure. Huguette Clark’s life was one of opulence and riches, but she died a recluse with a $300 million dollar estate and a vast number of decrepit homes in her portfolio.
The book outlines her life, her struggles, and the people who took advantage of her good nature. I couldn’t put it down! The splendor of her life reads like a soap opera and the photos of her homes included in the book are jawdropping.
When it comes to books like Downton Abbey, this one is a hit if it’s the house itself you are most interested in.
I have to be honest here – I didn’t like Belgravia, and stopped reading it in the middle. It was missing the humanity and charm that including the “downstairs” characters gave Downton, and to tell the truth, I really didn’t care what happened to these characters. However, I’d add to this list, “A Well Behaved Woman” by Therese Anne Fowler, and “The Kennedy Debutante” by Kerri Maher, as well as “The Summer Country” by Lauren Willig. Come to think of it, “Meet Me in Monaco” by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb might also appeal!
I did like Belgravia, but I didn’t like the “downstairs” characters in it. I do agree with most of your other suggestions. They had later timeframes so I considered most but didn’t add them. I haven’t read The Well-behaved Woman yet; but it’s on my list!