Rambling About Coupling

Last night we hooked up the most adorable piece of equipment I’ve ever seen: the Roku.  It is adorable!  So tiny and cute and precious.  It needs a name.  We’re a family that names and nicknames everything: children, cats, cars, dishwashers, everything.  It should be called something like “Tiny” or “Sweet Pea” or “Cutie Pie” or “My Preciousssss.”

All of that is a long way of saying that we are now a family sans cable.  Jimmy worked from home today, so I didn’t have the terror of coming home and not knowing how to access programming, but that day is coming.  Probably tomorrow.  Tonight, it took us a few minutes to decide what to watch on Amazon Streaming, but we decided on season 2 of Coupling.

Oh, Coupling.  What a great show.  We caught episodes on BBC America several years ago, and for Christmas one year, I bought Jimmy the complete series.  If you’ve never seen the series, I urge you to right away.  Coupling ran from 2000-2004 and is about a group of friends a la Friends only much, much funnier and raunchier.  If you can watch only one episode, I urge you to watch “Lesbian Spank Inferno.”  Every time we see it (and we’re watching it as I type this), we are on the ground laughing

Most of the cast is unknown to American audiences, but two of them stand out.  Steve, the lead, is played by Jack Davenport.  If you’ve seen any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, then you have seen him as Norrington.  You can also see him in Smash. Jane, Steve’s wacky ex, is played by Gina Bellman who currently stars in Leverage on TNT.


Tonight is the next Powerball drawing.  I’ve antied up at work for a ticket pool and Jimmy has as well.  I would love to win $500 million.  I have no illusions about its likelihood, but it is fun to imagine how we would spend it.  Do you do that?  Do you ever think about what you would do if you suddenly had millions of dollars?  The funny thing is that when I was a child, $1 million seemed like a lot of money.  Now, however, $1 million would not be enough to majorly impact our lifestyle  No, I wouldn’t turn down a cool million if it were offered to me (not in any kind of Demi Moore, Indecent Proposal kind of terms although that might be wishful thinking on my part), but after taxes, you’d probably have $500K left.  I’d probably put it in the bank and let it grow.  And that’s your lottery advice from me tonight.


I’ve been adding a lot of books to my Amazon wish list.  My wish list functions as an online Post It note for me.  It’s where I add things I want to remember like books for me or books or toys for Daniel.  I’m thinking about starting Far From the Tree next.  Have any of you heard about it or started to read it?  There have been several books I’ve had to ignore because I can’t read them due to the fact I’m a parent now.  Books like Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio that is about a 3 year old named Daniel who disappears one day while his mother is at work.  Sure, it’s set in the 30s but no,no, no, no, no!

OK, that’s enough babbling.  I can’t believe there are only a couple days left in November.  How is your holiday decorating going?  How do you stay centered during the insanity that is December?

Book Review: To Marry An English Lord

To Marry an English Lord

I am in serious Downton Abbey withdrawal. The good news is that the third series is around 6 months away. The bad news is that third series is around six, long, agonizing, teeth-gnashing months away. In a rare effort to make lemons into lemonade, I started putting together a list of books to help stave off the inevitable shakes and dry heaves from Downton withdrawal. If you’re a fan, you know exactly how I feel!

I was getting ready to download The American Heiress or The Uninvited Guests when I found a quote from Julian Fellowes in which he revealed that one of his primary inspirations for Downton Abbey was To Marry An English Lord or, How Anglomania Really Got Started.


To Marry An English Lord chronicles the real-life “Lady Coras” who journeyed overseas and conquered British society and the aristocracy, making glittering marriages. While many surnames my not be recognizable to modern readers, some like Vanderbilt and Whitney will be. Many of the heiresses who left New York City for the Old Country did so because their money and pedigree were too new and not good enough for the old money families (usually of Dutch heritage). Their exodus coincides with the creation of Mrs. Astor’s 400, a list of the social elite in the city that excluded fortunes made from the Industrial Revolution and sought to maintain traditions and protect the elite from the pernicious influence of newcomers. If you were not on that list, you were a nobody.

The nouveau riche heiresses were valuable to the British. While the British aristocracy considered the first wave of American heiresses to be wild and primitive, they had money. Money that could prop up bankrupt aristocrats and keep ancestral homes in the family, and so began the exchange of wealth for a title and position in society. While there were several waves of American heiresses marrying British aristocrats from the 1870s-1900s, the basic formula remained money for title. Winston Churchill was the product of one of the first of these marriages when his mother Jennie Jerome married Lord Randolph Churchill of the Marlborough family.

How romantic, right? These American heiresses infiltrating the ancient aristocracy is thrilling and just like a fairy tale. And who among us has not wanted to have a title? “Lady KeAnne” has a nice ring to it, n’est-ce pas? I would love to have been the duchess of whatever (styled “Your Grace”) because besides sounding so fluid, it’s the highest-ranking title a non-royal person could hold. I also loved the titles ending in
“-ess,” especially princess and the old Russian and German titles “Grand Duchess.” Grand indeed!

After a build up like that, surely these couples lived happily ever after. They were the embodiment of bedtime fairy tales. Alas, just as fairy tales often hid a harrowing origin and fate for their couples, our Anglo-American couples did not go on to live happily ever after in most cases.

The worst outcomes included depravity, adultery, insanity and abuse. For the brides that fared better, their married lives were a rude shock. They often went from being popular and sought after at society balls to living in a decrepit, chilly country house that their money was expected to fix in the middle of nowhere with their husband and his extended family. Those exquisite Worth gowns had no place there. In addition, the American brides had been raised with a good deal of freedom and affection from their parents; in England, the household revolved around the husband and his needs, quite a culture shock. As well, the American bride had to get used to and even accept her husband’s casual, overt infidelity, a situation for which her upbringing had not prepared her.

The wave of Anglo-American marriages ended after King Edward VII died. His son, King George V, did not favor these marriages as his father had and in America, a burgeoning nationalism was beginning to wonder what was wrong with her native sons. The outbreak of World War 1 a few years later forever changed the dynamic and society of Europe.

Bottom Line

To Marry An English Lord was a quick, engrossing read and one I recommend for anyone who is a fan of Downton Abbey. I sometimes forgot I was reading about real women and their fates due to how well the authors told each bride’s story. Sadly, “Lady Cora” seems to have had a much better outcome in her marriage to Lord Grantham than most of the women profiled in the book.

If you are interested in more Downton recommendations, I’ve created a Pinterest board on Downton Abbey.

Did you ever wish to be a princess or member of the aristocracy?