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Best-Selling Author of Downton Abbey Books Comes to East Lansing

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Jessica Fellowes, author of the official companion books to “Downton Abbey,” will be the keynote speaker at the 40th annual Kaleidoscope: Reflect. Recharge. Reimagine. on Friday, Sept. 5, presented by Sparrow Foundation and Women Working Wonders. This daylong event is at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing and is designed to empower, enrich and inspire women. It focuses on women’s health and education initiatives, and features unique opportunities to shop, learn and network. At Kaleidoscope, Fellowes will discuss her new book, A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey set to be released in the U.S. on Tuesday, Oct. 28. In preparation for the event, Fellowes shared a little about her personal and professional life with CAWLM for all of our “Downton Abbey” fans. Fellowes is not only a best-selling author, journalist and public speaker, she is also a mother and the niece of “Downton Abbey” creator and scriptwriter, Julian Fellowes. “I am a mother of a small boy called George (which is why Matthew and Mary’s baby has that name!) and stepmother to two young adults, Louis and Beatrix. We live in the countryside, not far from London, with our gorgeous Labradoodle, who drags us out for walks every morning. I work hard and enjoy time with my family,” said Fellowes. Fellowes is perhaps best known for her work as author of the No.1 best-selling The World of Downton Abbey and its follow up, The Chronicles of Downton Abbey. She was asked by the publishers and Carnival Productions (the show’s producers) to write the books, for which she gladly accepted. “(They) wanted books produced for the fans — I was keen to come aboard because those books — and my new one, A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey, are not just about the show and how it is made, but the social history of the period, putting it all into context,” said Fellowes. Season five of “Downton Abbey” is set to air on PBS in January 2015. Fellowes shares why she feels the show has become so wildly popular. “Julian’s theory is that we all enjoy watching basically decent people muddle their way through life which explains some of it, but I think it’s a combination of great writing, great acting, beautiful locations, sumptuous costumes and the zeitgeist catching fire … Now, if you’re not watching, you’re left out of the conversation everyone is having on Monday morning,” said Fellowes. The show is now Britain’s most successful TV export and is a big hit in Australia, China, Russia, Europe, to name a few, explains Fellowes. She believes what appeals to people the most about “Downton Abbey” is their fascination with the past. “They live a life that is apparently not related to ours with their huge houses and servants. And yet, I think the world of “Downton” and today shares a lot, particularly that both now and 100 years ago there have been huge, sudden advances in technology that have impacted society at-large. Electricity, cars and telephones then; Google, mobile telephones and Botox now,” said Fellowes. Kaleidoscope participants will gain behind-the-scenes insights from Fellowes. She’ll discuss the socio-historical context of the era, particularly as it relates to the changing role of women, the rise of technology and the crumbling of class hierarchy in post-WWI Britain. Fellowes draws parallels between the world of “Downton Abbey” and the world of today. “(The talk) will be largely based on the new book — how a house like Downton ran over the course of a year, as well as how the show is made across the year. The lives of “Downton Abbey’s” inhabitants, as well as those of people in 1924, were very dictated by the seasons, whether because of the sport, food, clothes, farming, social events … it’s fascinating to see how it all came together. And, of course, Julian drew on real-life inspiration for the show — both historical and stories from the family,” said Fellowes. Kaleidoscope’s presenting sponsor is MSU Federal Credit Union. Professor Elliot Engel, award-winning teacher of English and American literature, will be the other keynote speaker. In addition, participants can attend two breakout sessions, shop at the Kaleidoscope Emporium and peruse the brand new women’s health expo, complete with health tips and screenings from Sparrow Caregivers. For questions about the event or how to register, visit http://sparrowfoundation.org/kaleidoscope or contact Abigail Bhattacharyya at Abigail.Bhattacharyya@Sparrow.org or by telephone at (517)364-5677.
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Tags: author, Downton Abbey, east lansing, Kaleidoscope