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Snobs: a novel [Hardcover]

Lord Julian Fellowes
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 April 2004
SNOBS is the story of Edith Lavery, who earns a living answering the telephone in a Chelsea-based estate agents. She is the attractive only child of a comfortably-off accountant. When she attends Royal Ascot as a guest of friends, she meets bachelor Charles Broughton, who as Earl Broughton and heir to the Marquess of Uckfield, is a gossip-column favourite. He proposes, she accepts - and here is the crux of the story: is she really in love with Charles or with his title and all that goes with it? The story is narrated by a journeyman character actor who comfortably moves among the upper and middle classes, while observing their foibles. Superbly observed, the story includes a fabulous character in Charles's mother, Lady Uckfield, known as 'Googie', who wants for her son the daughter of a peer from the old, familiar world she knows and trusts. She perceives Edith to be a young woman on the make, and is vindicated when Edith, now Countess Broughton, falls for a blonde good-looking actor. Fellowes resolves his story with twists and turns aplenty. This is a tale worthy of a contemporary Jane Austen with a dash of Evelyn Waugh.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; First Edition edition (5 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297848763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297848769
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 16.2 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 478,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Julian Fellowes, actor, writer, director, producer, was educated at Ampleforth, Magdalene College, Cambridge and Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. He trained in repertory theatre at Northampton and Harrogate.

As an actor he is probably best known for his portrayal of the incorrigible Lord Kilwillie in the BBC's 'Monarch of the Glen', as well as film roles in 'Shadowlands' with Anthony Hopkins, 'Damage' with Jeremy Irons and 'Tomorrow Never Dies' with Pierce Brosnan.

As a writer for TV, he is responsible for the scripts of 'Little Lord Fauntleroy' (winner of an International EMMY, 1995) and 'The Prince and the Pauper' (nominated for a BAFTA, 1997), which he also produced. His first screenplay for the cinema was 'Gosford Park', directed by Robert Altman, which won a plethora of prizes, not least the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

He wrote the screenplay for the recent version of 'Vanity Fair', starring Reese Witherspoon, and 'The Young Victoria', currently in post-production. His debut as a Director, 'Separate Lies', starring Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson and Rupert Everett, was released to acclaim in 2006. He presented the BBC series, 'Most Mysterious Murders'.

As well as his novels 'Snobs' and 'Past Imperfect' (UK and US bestsellers), he has written a children's book published in 2006, and the book for the musical of 'Mary Poppins' for Cameron Mackintosh and Disney. Julian is married to Emma, nee Kitchener, and they have one son, Peregrine.

Product Description


Julian Fellowes is just marvellous at celebrating the subtle slights that lie beneath aristocratic conversation. Reading his novel SNOBS is a guilty pleasure, owing not just to its bouncy plot, but also to the suspicion that Mr Fellowes knows the territory well. (John Walsh HARPERS AND QUEEN)

A delicious comedy of manners on the nuances of English social life, which raises laughter and an occasional wince of recognition. (Clare Colvin DAILY MAIL)

This provocative, titillating and seductive novel.......Julian Fellowes tells this anachronistic morality tale with such wit, verve, elegance and shadenfreude that it never loses momentum. (Andrew Barrow THE SPECTATOR)

'sparklingly rompish......... the world that Fellowes describes is an unchanging one: that of the landed aristocracy, whose wish since the beginning of time (or at least, since the beginning of titles), is to mix only with their own kind.... Fellowes is a delectable guide to its absurdities. (Penny Perrick SUNDAY TIMES)

'a good, fresh, read.... Fellowes has an excellent eye for detail..... Fellowes uses a light dusting of satire to help us enjoy our own snobbery without choking on chippiness. (Mary Wakefield DAILY TELEGRAPH)

deliciously waspish satire.... SNOBS is terrific entertainment, deepened by the sad ache of truth (Lucy Beresford LITERARY REVIEW)

'The Gosford Park writer's wry look at the English class system is an entertaining dabble in Debrett's. (Andrea Henry THE MIRROR)

a delicious contemporary comedy of manners - but it's the spiky Emma Woodhouse-style asides which make SNOBS so irresistible. (John Koski YOU MAGAZINE)

Fellowes's attractive, faintly cynical voice has overtones of Trollope, Waugh and Mitford.... this deft entertaining novel.... (Philip Hoare INDEPENDENT)

'A deliciously entertaining novel.' (STAR MAGAZINE)

the author of Gosford Park has written a novel so horribly compelling that anyone attempting to read if in the lav would cause a riot on the landing. (Jane Shilling THE TIMES)

An affectionate expose from the author of GOSFORD PARK, it reveals the sensibilities of today's dwindling upper classes, and the infiltration of their ranks by the new elite - celebrity hangers-on. (REAL)

It is one of those books one imagines being sent up to Balmoral, come September, where it will be proclaimed divinely funny and quite amazingly true to life. (Catherine Bennett THE GUARDIAN)

Fellowes has a nice epigrammatic style. He conjures characters deftly, and although the story is slight, it's sufficient to make the reader want to turn the page. (Chris Paling New Humanist)

The style is langorous, elegant and measured ... this absorbing book ... the finely crafted characters ... a riveting social history ... a gripping novel by someone with effortless grasp of character and dialogue that invites comparison with Evelyn Waugh ... his fine honed abilities as a storyteller.' (Tim Lott THE EVENING STANDARD)

He is first of all, a true stylist. The prose is good, lucid and polished without painful overwriting. (Edward Pearce TRIBUNE)

Book Description

Witty and enthralling contemporary comedy of manners set against the background of aristocracy, business and actors - by the Oscar winning screenplay writer of the movie 'Gosford Park'.

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First Sentence
I do not know exactly how Edith Lavery came first to be taken up by Isabel Easton. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and neatly plotted 17 May 2006
By Reptile
This book is set in an upper class milieu with which I am not familiar - and to be fair, wouldn't want to be. The author is not exactly a revolutionary! He sends the upper class characters up, but does so with affection. Something I particularly liked was the long passages of explanation interpolated into the dialogue. There is a first person narrator reminiscent of the narrator of A Dance to the Music of Time. That is fine, but the author also describes the heroine's sexual experiences with another character, which the narrator cannot possibly have witnessed. This jarred on me a bit. However, I am not saying that the descriptions were bad in themselves. In fact, they convey everything we need to know in relation to the personalities of those involved and the relationship between them, without being pornographic in any way. This is basically a comic novel, but the plot moves at a reasonable pace despite the long (and enjoyable) explanations, and the ending is a satisfying one. I would not say that this is a profound book, but it contains some intelligent observations on life. An enjoyable read, provided you are not left wing and like social comedy.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mockery from Within 14 May 2006
This not-quite-debut novel (Fellowes wrote several romance novels in the mid-'70s under the name Rebecca Greville, including "Poison Presented" and "Court in the Terror") ought to appeal to fans of his 2001 Oscar-winning script for the film Gosford Park. A straightforward satirical comedy of manners set among the upper classes of mid-'90s England and those who aspire to join them, the book is a frothy comic brew which skewers both parties with the kind of pitch-perfect subtle writing that it seems only the British can pull off. The story is quite simple, a pretty woman from an upper middle-class family whose mother has pretentions decides to ensnare a hugely wealthy and dull aristocratic man in order to "marry up" into the upper classes which still hold such a mystique and importance in British society. The man's mother, a formidable Marchioness aims to prevent this from occurring but fails. The young woman discovers that life at the top isn't as exciting as she anticipated and runs off with an handsome actor to great scandal. Will anyone find happiness at the end?

This is all more or less narrated by a semi-aristocratic actor (clearly very much like the author) who is able to move between all worlds due to his upbringing and career. He starts the book as a friend of the young woman and a very passing acquaintance of the young man, and ends up becoming a bridge between worlds and at the latter stages, a kind of discreet go-between. It is his penetrating sardonic insights and the witty formulations thereof which lend what substance there is to this otherwise straightforward love story. Much of the novel involves the narrator spelling out the unspoken rules of the game for the reader in deliciously mocking detail.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delicious insight into the upper classes 18 April 2010
I like being taken somewhere in a book I wouldn't normally go and that's perhaps why I loved Snobs. It gave an intriguing insight into the upper classes. How they behave, why they do so, what motivates them. We're not talking about the slightly rich here but a world most of us will never inhabit. I devoured Snobs feeling like a fly on the wall, lapping up the details of privilege and wealth. While the leading lady's motives were not always likeable, I certainly understood her now and then. In its entirety Snobs was not just a story (and it was a decent story which moved at a good pace but it's not a hard-hitting drama, more of a study of people) but also about settling in life, about wanting different things and being a different person as the years pass. For this reason, it's one of the few books that made me think about it a few days after I finished it. And I think a few clever observations will stay with me for a long time. Recommended for sure. Perhaps not if you want a thrilling ride, but for a gentle, clever think about society, it's a winner.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What Really Matters 24 Feb 2009
This was an enjoyable easy read, although I agree with the reviewers who point out that the first person narrative jars with a great deal of what could only be third person description.
As for the rest - I have decided that I am utterly bored with the assumption that we should all deride the Upper Classes. I will never be party to their world, but what the heck -they are patriotic, have a respect for History and tradition, cannot be bought (Cash for Honours, anyone?) and as the book makes clear, husband the countryside as opposed to Genetically Modifying it - ergo, they have not been replaced by anything better.
I know Mr Fellowes' has an entrée and all that but it is surprising how much of the detail and characterisation could have been adapted from a thorough reading of the 1982 `Sloane Ranger Handbook.' Nevertheless, this is nicely written, highly absorbing and entertaining stuff. It also contains what now looks like a highly astute bit of forecasting with the character of the `U' New-Style Tory Tommy Wainwright - a rising Conservative MP stuck at the end of the Major years, Wainwright could be a projection of the currently resurgent Public School `Progressive' Tory.
Lady Uckfield, by the way, is a superb literary creation and her son Charles a moving portrayal of sheer goodness.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars DOWNTON YES / SNOBS ABSOLUTE NO
Published 1 month ago by B. M. Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Gossipy Read
Fellowes seems to have issues with the British upper class and we should all be thankful for
that because he delivers an insiders view with humour and style.
Published 5 months ago by V.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brillient
I read another of this authors book and loved it (before downtown abbey) This didnt let me down just brilliant easy read
Published 7 months ago by adrienne
5.0 out of 5 stars Social climbers, beware!
This is a very funny, as well as a cautionary satire by Julian Fellowes. Extremely well-written, it charts the course of social climber Edith Lavery, who marries Charles, Earl... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mr. R. D. M. Kirby
5.0 out of 5 stars Great novel!
Julian Fellowes can do no wrong; another novel that has me enthralled. I downloaded on to my kindle and at 3.99 a fab buy. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Pauline
5.0 out of 5 stars Gentle, easy read on a different world!
Thoroughly enjoyable read. Easy pace if predictable outcome. No huge surprises, probably most of us suspect this is a familiar storyline running through many great and noble... Read more
Published 8 months ago by ddgwacot
5.0 out of 5 stars Guide to Snobbery
Excellent! Lady Uckfield, what a trooper! This book is such a fun easy read, you just breeze through it and sadly it's all over too quickly.
Published 8 months ago by JWP
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
As always Julian Fellows comes up trumps, gives you a good insight into the lifestyle of the debs and their way of life, thank goodness it has gone.
Published 9 months ago by Miss L Pogodzinski
4.0 out of 5 stars Snobs by Julian Fellowes
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel . The easy fluency of the writer made it an effortless read and , with the author's personal background, offered an insight into a strata of... Read more
Published 10 months ago by N. M.
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother!
A dreadful book! I only moved beyond the first page because it was a Book Group choice. Interestingly, only one person out of 8 of us enjoyed it. Total tosh!
Published 10 months ago by KLP
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