Fans of the public television drama/soap opera "Downton Abbey" were heartbroken when (spoiler alert!) two key characters were knocked off in Season 3. Not to mention the fact that the season was a mere six episodes long.
Wendy Wax's new novel, "While We Were Watching Downton Abbey" (Berkley Books, $15), will take up some of the slack between now and Season 4.
The book puts three women and the British concierge in their Midtown Atlanta highrise in front of the TV for weekly viewing parties. And between episodes, their own lives crisscross, sometimes unraveling, sometimes improving.
"I typically write stories with multiple female protagonists," said Wax, who grew up in St. Petersburg but has lived in Atlanta for the past 16 years. "I liked the series so much and thought, how could that bring characters together, how might that happen?"
Wax herself was late to the "Downton Abbey" party.
"I missed the entire first season of 'Downton Abbey,'" she admitted. "I don't know if I was under a rock..."
But the enthusiasm of friends for the series put her into a "DA" marathon over a long weekend.
"Then I was really hooked," she said.
The book touches on Seasons 1 and 2, but "it's not about 'Downton Abbey.' It's about these people's lives and how they intertwine and the unexpected friendships that spring up while they are watching 'Downton Abbey.' Fans of the show I know will really identify with it."
There are some parallels between the TV show and Wax's characters. Samantha, who has lived in Atlanta for many years and has married a wealthy family friend in order to provide financial stability for her younger siblings, "was inspired in a lot of ways by Lady Mary, who needed to marry and her family needed her to as well," said Wax.
And Edward, the British concierge, has elements in his life not unlike those of the "downstairs" crew at "Downton Abbey."
But Claire, a writer and single mother whose daughter has just left the nest for college, and Brooke, a housewife whose plastic-surgeon husband has just dumped her for one of his patients, are just the stuff of fiction.
Now that Wax has been thoroughly sucked into the "DA" drama, she's got opinions like the rest of the show's fans about what might happen in Season 4.
The death of Matthew in the closing moments of Season 3 left her in tears. Still, Matthew's death "opens up all kinds of storylines that would never have been there had those characters not left. Now Lady Mary has all these opportunities that she never would have had if Matthew had still been there."
WENDY WAX will read from and sign copies of “While We Were Watching Downton Abbey” at 6 p.m. April 5 at Bookstore1Sarasota, 1359 Main St., Sarasota. 365-7900; www.bookstore1sarasota.com.