Saturday, February 18, 2012
I finished reading Julian Fellowes' Snobs last week but I was too busy to write up a review until now. Anyway, reading Snobs was like reading a modern season of Downton Abbey. The narrator is never named. He is an actor who travels between two worlds. He has some "in" to the wealthy, noble upper classes of England, but is friends also with the upper middle class world who desperately wants to be part of the higher classes. He's a gentle observer, judgmental at some points but quite wry in his observations, and also more tolerant than he could be.
The story that he narrates follows Edith Lavery, a social climber from the upper middle class. She comes into contact with the wealthy, but boring, Charles, who is going to inherit a wealthy estate when his parents die. His mother, very much like Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey definitely wants to hold onto the conventions and traditions of her class. Unfortunately this all turns into a disaster when Edith finally gets into the family and a handsome actor catches her eye.
So the book is clearly about snobbery in England. It's about social climbers. It reminded me about how the British press referred to the Middleton sisters as "Wisteria" because they were beautiful but clingy and grew their way into the higher classes from a middle class background. There were some references that were too cultural for me to get, but I enjoyed the book. If it had been written by someone like Sophie Kinsella or Jane Green, it would have been considered "chick lit" but Fellowes writes with a very literary flourish and in the gender biased world of publishing, his books were of course not considered flighty in the least. So if you like British books, especially about the upper classes, check this one out. It took me longer than I thought it would but it was entertaining overall.
I'm almost 70% into my next book so stay tuned! I should do another review this weekend.