The New Countess (Hardcover)

By Fay Weldon

St. Martin's Press, 9781250028020, 336pp.

Publication Date: December 17, 2013



England, 1905. Lord Robert and Lady Isobel Dilberne, as well as their entire regal estate, with its hundred rooms, are busy planning for a lavish visit from King Edward VII and his mistress just a few months away. Preparations are elaborate and exhaustive: the menus and fashions must be just so. But even amidst the excitement, not everyone is happy.

Lady Rosina now widowed and wealthy insists on publishing a scandalous book despite her mother's objections. Arthur Dilberne and Chicago Heiress Minnie O'Brien's two young sons the eldest of whom is heir to the estate are being reared to Lady Isobel's tastes, not Minnie's. After making a shocking discovery, Minnie will take drastic measures for the sake of her children. And when fate deals a hand in the middle of the royal shooting party, the entire Dilberne estate will face upheaval once again.

"The New Countess" is the final novel in Fay Weldon's outstanding trilogy that began with "Habits of the House" and "Long Live the King." As the bestselling novelist and award-winning writer for the pilot episode of the original "Upstairs Downstairs," Weldon magnificently lifts the curtain on early twentieth-century British society, upstairs and downstairs, under one stately roof.

About the Author

FAY WELDON is a novelist, playwright, and screenwriter who, at the age of 16, lived in a grand London townhouse as the daughter of the housekeeper. In addition to winning a Writers' Guild Award for the pilot of Upstairs Downstairs, she is a Commander of the British Empire whose books include Praxis, shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction; The Heart of the Country, winner of the Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize; Worst Fears, shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award; and Wicked Women, which won the PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award. She lives in England.

Praise For The New Countess



A USA Today New and Noteworthy book


“Readers will be eager to plunge in…Weldon has deftly capitalized on the Downton Abbey momentum.” —Booklist


“Funnier and nastier than the two earlier volumes.” —Kirkus Reviews


“The novel’s conclusion is surprising. With remarkable skill, Weldon reverses the reader’s expectations in such a way that the astonishment is followed by an immediate recognition of inevitability.” —The Star Tribune


“Weldon knows her subject and era well, and the last book [The New Countess] in her trilogy is perhaps her best.” —RT Book Reviews


“Weldon amuses with her usual mix of courtly language undercut by snark.” —The Boston Globe




"Weldon remains at the top of her game with [Long Live the King]…Fans of Downton Abbey will relish this rich and witty comedy of manners." —Star Tribune


"Teeming with tasty tidbits about royals great and small, Weldon’s second installment in her Dilberne Court trilogy gives devoted Anglophiles a whirlwind tour upstairs, downstairs, and all around the castle." —Booklist on Long Live the King


 “Weldon’s second installment in her Dilberne Court trilogy, following Habits of the

House (2013), gives devoted Anglophiles a whirlwind tour upstairs, downstairs, and all around the castle.” — Booklist on Long Live the King




“Weldon’s flair for capturing the grudging envy shared by the British and their colonial counterparts is worth more than its market value in fool’s gold.” —The New York Times

“Before there was Downton Abbey, there was Upstairs, Downstairs, and, having written the first episode of that iconic television series, it is only fitting that Weldon now returns to the scene of the crime to further explore the disparate worlds of ‘them that has and those what serve ’em.’…Always a ripe target for mockery and disdain, the British aristocracy comes in for a thorough drubbing in Weldon’s snarky send-up.” —Booklist

"[Habits of the House] succeeds as an opening to a new series." —Publishers Weekly


Habits of the House is good fun from start to finish, thanks to its breezy storytelling and witty social observations.” —The Washington Post

"There is simply no touching Weldon as a writer." —The Observer (UK) on Habits of the House

"Fay Weldon has always examined the scary parts of what lies beneath the silk cushions and behind the closed gates." —The Chronicle of Higher Education

"I was a girl from Downstairs. When I was 16, my bedroom was in the basement of a posh house in London, where my mother was the housekeeper. . . . Odd, this class business. Here's Upstairs Downstairs back again, Downton Abbey so popular." —Fay Weldon