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Sunday, August 12, 2012

READ THIS: TO MARRY AN ENGLISH LORD Tales of Wealth and Marriage, Sex and Snobbery By Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace Our Coverage Sponsored by Miraclesuit® and Miraclebody® Jeans by Miraclesuit®®


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It's not by accident that Downton Abbey was just nominated for 16 Emmy Awards.  We celebrated our 12,000th post with it:
Note that we reviewed episode by episode in great detail because impressed is an understatement on how we feel about this show, and in the midst of doing so, Peachy read this book, 
To Marry an English Lord, 
which it is all based on.  
Immediately upon watching an episode of Season 2 last winter by chance as Peachy was home in bed sick (a rare occasion when she's randomly watching tv), she stumbled upon Downton Abbey and hasn't been the same since.  Even after the Giants won the Superbowl, after it was over Peachy immediately switched the channel to catch the next addictive episode of Downton Abbey.  The Giants winning the Superbowl in Manhattan is like Christmas, but the episode of Downton Abbey was like Santa coming down the chimney and you there meeting him in person while he delivers exactly what you wanted.

  If you are extremely privy to the personal affairs of Peachy, just for fun you know she has even assumed the role of a character along with a close friend (they play sisters) and frequent a sizable estate which they have named Such-and-Such Abbey along with the owner, who is of course the Dowager Countess, and has been on the lookout for husbands with titles for these girls even before the invention of Downton.  They also roar with laughter at Downton Sixbey; Jimmy Fallon is also in on this craze.  As we are not fad people or trend chasers, we will simply say this is a modern classic that is here to stay and if you haven't added it to your viewing schedule yet, do get on the stick because this is the best thing we've ever reviewed next to Lenovo laptops.  Peachy and company have even been in character for some dinner reviews.  When Peachy wears Geiger she wonders if American Heiresses wore it in 1912-the brand started in 1906 we believe.  It would be fantastic for a hunt we do believe.  Bergdorf Goodman is turning 111 this year-did Cora shop there before going over?  The UPS and FedEx people in our lives have become the footmen. In short, Downton Abbey has altered our living, our thinking, and our behavior in general.  Nothing else has ever put us over the edge quite like this, but you knew that already from the facebook group created by our own Editor-in-Chief: Downton Abbey is PEACHY.  You all should join.

So who do we have to thank for all of this of course beyond Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey?  We'll let him chime in for himself-
he is not on our panel, but it is essential to include this, and note this is the first time we're including an outside endorsement-Peachy usually deletes them from press releases:

“Marvelous and entertaining.” — Julian Fellowes, creator of DOWNTON ABBEY

Here's who you have to thank:

Gail MacColl and Carol McDS.Wallace
Because they wrote this book.
They overlooked nothing.
They are beyond brilliant.
So Julian read the book.
And Downton Abbey was born!
One of them even acquired an English husband...

We were thinking about making this our 500th book review because it is THAT fantastic, however, we don't want you to have to wait a minute longer especially as Season 3 will be starting soon for our readers across the pond.  We are also thrilled to know that these authors also did The Preppy Handbook which we consider to be the bible on many levels, and Peachy perused it weekly as a child when she was supposed to doing a chore of dusting as there were not downstairs people at the time.  Peachy was absolutely comforted by the similar format.  Thoroughly Modern Peachy could not contain herself as she went through page by page-she would have id'ed them as being involved with The Preppy Handbook in just the opening few pages no other book is like these two that we've experienced.  The drawings are the same style as well and we love it.

Starting with Old New York, you'll quickly learn that every page is full of interesting facts and angles you'll want to intellectually devour.  You will be the most entertaining person at the next cocktail party you go to without a doubt if you start to memorize tidbits from this book.  The photos and drawings are essential, as is Their Noble Lordships on page 22 which simply must be committed to memory.  We do wonder if the Heiress's Newport will make a scene in Season Three with the debut of Shirley MacLaine as the American Grandmother.

So where did this begin in real history?  With the original party enthusiast himself, The Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, in 1860.  We are sorry we missed the affair but it was a good 100 years too early for us.    With Queen Victoria for your mom, you'd want to break out a bit too and have some good fun in New York and clearly, he did.  If you saw The King's Speech, that King that Colin Firth played was the son of this Albert Edward, we believe.

Even downstairs people have something to learn in this book: in London, silver had to be polished daily because it began to yellow after 24 hours in the dirty air.  There are some lovely terms also found on page 31: Words for Those on the Outside Wanting In.  We quite like Detrimentals.  And after some careful reading, we do want to know if you define yourself as a Nob or a Swell.  Are you a Buccaneer in New York?  Are you a Lilian (Rhymes with Million)?

Mind your manners.  Read our Etiquette from Connecticut column in tandem with this book and see all about Calling-Card Protocol on page 56.  Corners turned?  What does it mean?

You'll see the root of all prep is of course English.  This appears in the lineage with Wall Street Father No. 1: The Sporting Man, for example.  It appears in attention to designers and wearing the right clothes: Note Worth on page 70.  From Top Dollars to the Siege of London, all will regale you as you soak in each page from cover to cover.

We are honored to see we are spot-on in our recommendations; Delmonico's is featured on page 133 -(we prepped in Connecticut with the panelist on this review...)  We also have featured a Vanderbilt as a Mover and Shaker-and boy can she sing!  And we've reviewed a book by a Whitney for good measure. No wonder why we liked this book so much and Downton Abbey as a result.

Are you a fair invader? And if not, don't you want to be more authentic?  Mind the costume changes on page 232. 
And now that the Olympics are over, it is high time to take a Walking Tour of The American Heiresses' London-see page 360.  The only way this book could be better is if you were reading it in the Earl of Grantham's library, though to say that for sure we'd have to go there and try it out for size.

You ought to read this THIS WEEKEND.  Wait, what is a weekend? (DC)  Hail the livery (taxi) and get yourself to a bookstore straightaway!  
And finally, if you are an English Earl and you find yourself in Manhattan in need of a date, Peachy is single.  And she does know where to go.  She doesn't even mind if you're the spare...

Our esteemed panelists rave:

Anyone who regularly reads Whom You Know must know that we at Whom You Know love, love, LOVE Downton Abbey! This addictive series, starring such luminaries as Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, and Elizabeth McGovern, among others, is penned by award-winning writer Julian Fellowes and it follows the lives of the Crawley family and their servants, beginning in the year 1912. It's been enormously successful on both sides of the pond, and viewers are eagerly awaiting its third season, which will air in September over there and in January here-see our countdown for how many more days until the American release. Given our love of the show, we here at Whom You Know were intrigued to learn more about its origins. Well, it turns out that one of the inspirations for the show came in the form of a 1989 paperback with the title To Marry An English Lord. Written by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace (authors of The Official Preppy Handbook), this delightful, engaging book tells the story of young American heiresses who left their homes in America to marry into the British aristocracy in the late 19th century. At this time, the "nouveaux riches," as many of them were known, found it difficult, if not impossible, to break into rigid New York society. The "old money" of the Knickerbockers refused to accept the "new money" of the Vanderbilts, Whitneys, LoRoches, Jeromes, and others like them; however, these wealthy, attractive young heiresses were welcomed with open arms by peers of the British empire who, at this point in time, had little to their names except their titles and their huge estates, which they could barely afford to run. Thus began the swapping of money for titles, and when all was said and done, over 100 American heiresses had proceeded down this path. This book is a delightful, engaging romp from start to finish. Although it is filled with facts, it is far from dry, and the storytelling is done is a breezy, amusing manner. Nearly every page has a drawing, portrait, or sidebar quote to enhance the stories, and bits of trivia about customs and trends of the period are interjected regularly. Once I started reading, I simply could not stop, so taken was I with the interesting anecdotes and over 100-year old gossip sprinkled throughout the pages! Happily, with the success of Downton Abbey, the book has received renewed attention (thanks, in part, to a hearty endorsement from Mr. Fellowes), as well as a new printing - so be sure to pick up your copy soon! This book is definitely a must for all lovers of Downton Abbey, as well as all lovers of engaging, informative, and entertaining reads! 

Oh, to be in England! Especially with the Silver Jubilee Celebration happening this year. But no matter, because, as Gail MacColl and Carol McDS.Wallace have put forth centuries of British skirt-chasing for us, a book may just suffice for the moment. "To Marry an English Lord" will put you into the hearts and minds of the "pushy mamas" who took England by storm throughout the Turn of the Century, daughters in tow, to rail at the bastion of the British aristocracy. With New York (and American) society in stifling snobbery mode, these young ladies could, and did, win the hearts of the British Peerage, gain titles in marriage, and reverse the snobbery that had limited their sociability in the States. We all gained by this mad venture across the waters. America gained nobility, Continental charm, and our own generations of a broader minded upper class. We're all enthralled by Downton Abbey, a family saga that underlines the effects of the British class structure, and brings to bear the influence that these American wives brought to their milieu. The children of these marriages were not always as square cut as their fathers would hope. They sometimes married the chauffeur!
The book will zip you through the basics, and with side-bars, inserts, and charts, outline the status of things as they were, and as they would become. The photos are well-researched, and we wish they were larger, and clearer, but then again, with so much content, we wouldn't be able to take it on the train. It's a must-read for Downton Abbey fans, and fascinating to the rest of the world who never see a tv. With England in the spotlight these days, the social levels of it's class structure are much clearer now. "To Marry an English Lord" may just make you want to hie yourself thither, and hunt down your very own member of the aristocracy. Happy reading! and happy hunting! God Save the Queen!

As a huge fan of Downton Abbey, I was so excited to get more gritty details about the ins and outs of being married to an English Lord. This book is so intriguing and gives you a more intimate, yet gossipy and real account of American “Royalty” partnering with old money English families.  Some of my favorite parts of the book were learning the operating expenses of an “Country Estate”. No wonder these English Lords needed these nouveau riche American Girls, how could they afford to maintain and run a proper Manor. Between the wonderful illustrations and the witty quotes, you get a feel for the many games that were played. All for money, titles and power. I wonder if they will ever go back in Downton Abbey to showcase in more detail the courting of Cora.

When I first started reading To Marry an English Lord, I couldn't put it down. When I saw the cover, I saw that this book was the inspiration for "Downton Abbey" and couldn't wait to watch. I am a little behind in TV watching and I have heard only good things about the show. Now that I am reading To Marry an English Lord, I know what is on my summer to-do list. I have always been interested in American and British history and this book was so interesting. I loved reading about how rich Americans would marry peers in England. I couldn't put this book down. I know this is a book I can read over and over again. I have already told several friends of mine who have talked about watching "Downton Abbey" about this book. This is a must read! I highly recommend it! 

Whom You Know gives To Marry an English Lord our Highest Recommendation.


Fans of the award-winning PBS TV series Downton Abbey, will be delighted to know that TO MARRY AN ENGLISH LORD by Gail MacColl and Carol Wallace—the book that helped inspire series creator and writer, Julian Fellowes—is back in print. Says Fellowes in a January 24 letter to the editor of the New York Times, “Cora Grantham (played by Elizabeth McGovern) was the first character of ‘Downton’ to be imagined, thanks to Ms. MacColl and Ms. Wallace.” 

Originally published in 1989, TO MARRY AN ENGLISH LORD is even more timely today. With a stunning new cover, the book takes a lively and informative look at a signature era in the world of New York society. In 1895, nine American girls, including a Vanderbilt (railroads), LaRoche (pharmaceuticals), Rogers (oil), and Whitney (New York trolleys) married peers of the British realm – among them, a duke, an earl, three barons, and a knight. It was the peak year of a social phenomenon, initiated by New York’s nouveau riche who had been excluded from Manhattan’s social calendar by reigning society doyenne, Mrs. Astor. Eventually more than one hundred American heiresses invaded Britain and swapped dollars for titles, including Jennie Jerome, who would become mother to Winston Churchill. TO MARRY AN ENGLISH LORD gives us a diverting, behind-the-tapestries-glimpse at all the goings-on.


From the wheeling and dealing to the lavish weddings, and the titles. What attracted English lords to American women, included their magnificent wardrobes and well-rounded educations that only plenty of money could buy, plus their animated personalities, prettier looks, and better teeth (Were they looking for wives or a stable of horses?)


The families—gruff, provincial in-laws, eccentric siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins (One new bride was greeted with screams of “Take her away! Take her away!”). The endless lineup of servants. The real life affairs that warmed up the palatial but arctic rooms devoid of heat and electricity (husband on a sailing expedition…again, wife launches an affair…again).

THE HEIR AND THE SPARE (pp. 209-217) 

Time to beget a boy. It was expected that the new bride would get pregnant promptly – and with a boy of course, because a girl was merely an extra mouth to feed.


Lively pages are punctuated with photos and filled with all the intricate details of the lives of American heiresses married to English lords. 

The lord goes looking: The best U.S. hunting grounds to find a wealthy lass (pp. 136-137)

How to rate a mate: The decision is hers: Is it to be a Member of Parliament, a Younger Son, or the Black Sheep (pp. 112-113)

Who’s who among the servants: The butler, valet, footmen, driver, milady’s maid, chef, and the rest of the staff. Just what are they up to? (pp. 224); 

Daily costume changes: Three or more per day depending on the day’s activities: riding, letter writing, luncheons, strolling in Hyde Park, dinner, receptions, theater, the opera, and balls (pp. 232-233).

TO MARRY AN ENGLISH LORD is filled with vivid personalities, gossipy anecdotes, grand houses, and a wealth of period detail—plus photographs, illustrations, quotes, and the finer points of Victorian and Edwardian etiquette. 

About the Authors
Carol McD. Wallace
Carol Wallace co-authored the bestselling The Official Preppy Handbook. Since then she has written nineteen more books and dozens of magazine articles. Her areas of specialty have been humor, social history, parenting and fiction. In 2006 she earned a masters in art history from Columbia University. Her MA thesis was the basis for her historical novel, Leaving Van Gogh, published in April 2011. She has recently completed the manuscript for a new historical novel, Madame Manet. Carol lives in New York City with her husband and two children. She authors the blog, Book Group of One, to justify her ten-book-a-month reading habit. Read more at

Gail MacColl 
Gail MacColl edited The Official Preppy Handbook as well as Inside Oscar: The Unofficial History of the Academy Awards and the New York Times bestseller Items from Our Catalog. She is the author of The Book of Cards for Kids and The Book of Card Games for Little Kids as well as coauthor, with Mark Green, of There He Goes Again: Ronald Reagan's Reign of Error. Since 1995 she has been a relationship counselor working with couples and individuals in London, where she lives with her husband and four children.

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To Marry an English Lord

By Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace

Workman Publishing | March 20, 2012 | $15.95 | 978-0-7611-7195-9

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