Saturday, May 24, 2014
I picked up a copy of Snobs by Julian Fellows because the cover told me that he wrote the movie Gosford Park and it looks like it might be some kind of high society farce that would be fun for a weekend read. It was high society, but definitely not farce. It has an elegant substance to it -- much more an intelligent novel of manners than slapstick comedy.
Fellows tells a subtle and complicated story about family and class loyalties and the intuition needed to move through them. Narrated by an actor whose own blue blood allows him to navigate the rocky social shoals between wealthy up-and-comers and genteel nobility, we learn the story of lovely but middle-class Edith Lavery’s marriage to Charles, Earl of Broughton. Edith seems to regret her choice before the end of her first hunt season at the family’s drafty Sussex estate. But what are her alternatives?
What I didn’t realize until I finished the book was that Fellows is the main writer for Downton Abbey. He published Snobs five years before the first episode of Downton Abbey aired, and it takes place in the late 1990s, but many of the themes and ideas are similar.
If you would like your review of Snobs, or any other book by Julian Fellows listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.
Julian Fellows is in actor as well as a writer. He played Lord Kilwillie in one of my favorite shows, Monarch of the Glen.