SERIAL SECRETS

Downton Abbey’s creator has a new project: a serial book app

Obsession
Glass
Obsession
Glass

As the dust settles on the drawn curtains of the Downton Abbey estate, fans of the popular TV series of the same name will need to look elsewhere for a serving of the upstairs/downstairs shenanigans they’ve come to love. Series creator Julian Fellowes hopes to deliver with a distinctly modern twist, through a new period drama fans can order right to their phones.

Belgravia is a serial novel set in the epitome-of-posh London district after which it’s named, and will launch in April as an app with new installments released every Friday, Fellowes announced. The text will be accompanied by bonus videos, music, maps, and images, and will also be available as an audiobook.

The story will be 11 chapters long, with the prologue available for free. Installments will cost $1.99 each, or $13.99 for the whole series.

According to a Jan. 4 press release, Belgravia sees the British aristocracy facing the dilution of its power against a backdrop of war and secrets, just as in the fictional world of Downton:

Set in the 1840s when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche, Belgravia is peopled by a rich cast of characters. But the story begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. At the Duchess of Richmond’s now legendary ball, one family’s life will change for ever . . .

Since its premiere five years ago, Downton Abbey has tapped into a deep fascination with the inner workings of early 20th-century manor life, and its popularity was a boon for old-school serial storytelling, over Netflix’s binge model.

Fellowes has proven he isn’t afraid to try new mediums—along with a slew of directing, acting, and writing credits, he’s also the author of two novels and wrote School of Rock the Musical. But if his new project can capitalize on just a fraction of Downton‘s success, it will be an impressive feat: In November 8.8 million people in the UK tuned in to watch the series finale, and in the US, where the show is in its sixth and final season, Downton is the most popular drama ever shown on the Public Broadcasting Service.

For those easily distracted by their buzzing phones and tablets, Belgravia will also be released as a hardcover book on July 5 for $26. And with print books on the rise again, it may very well be the old-fashioned form that breathes new life into England’s historically stodgy set.

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