41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Past Imperfect (Paperback)
"Past Imperfect" produced a profound feeling of ambivalence in me; on the one hand, I wanted to devour it, and on the other, I did not want it to end. With the first sentence, Julian Fellowes caught my attention; by the end of the first page, he had me hooked. As a consequence, I found it very difficult to put the book down for the next three days, as I navigated the intricacies of its complex plot. It was as if I were being conducted on a special tour by a knowledgeable guide into a fascinating and privileged world to which I would otherwise have no entry: aristocratic London of the 1960s, an era in which Bright Young Things--and a few Dim Bulbs--still danced the night away at debutante balls.
Such a topic might, at first glance, seem frivolous, but the author soon dispels this notion by tightening the strings of suspense, introducing and repeating a key word--a place name, which I shall not reveal--and then adroitly deferring the resolution until the last chapter. With lucid prose and sharply honed wit, he cuts through the pretense and pretensions of his characters, which are delineated so thoroughly that one comes to care for each of them. (They are, in fact, so well defined that I was already casting a BBC series in my head!). The book, furthermore, comments on both past and present, being peppered with clever allusions to literature, theatre, and politics, sometimes in a single phrase (e.g., "The Curious Case of Gordon Brown" [p. 406]).
I recommend this book as an antidote for sundry books that I've picked up lately, which seem to have been knocked off in a hurry for persons in a hurry. Plot-driven, such books are like fast food; they fill one up only momentarily. With its memorable characters, wit, and suspense, "Past Imperfect," which recaptures the flavor of a vanished era, will leave one both satisfied and nourished long after the book has been closed reluctantly for the last time.
Reviewed for Vine; Amazon.com