Past Imperfect Unknown Binding – 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
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
I could 'see' every moment with cinematic clarity ; detail was what it should be-detailed; the 'human condition' was clear for all to see but was portrayed with compassion and kindness and there was enough dry and wry humour scattered throughout to stop us taking ourselves too seriously.
It kept me engrossed throughout. A pretty near perfect novel.
One of the many interesting aspects of PI is that most novelists, being middle-class, would have told the story from the point of view of Damien Baxter, the man the narrator hates but who is commissioned by to track down the unknown love child conceived in their shared youth. Damien's rise to fame and fortune, not the hollowness of it all or the devastating quarrel that wrecked the chance of happiness for three people, would have been the focus.
Instead, what we get is so much more subtle and well-crafted, I couldn't put it down. Shuttling between the narrator's quest to discover which of four women the dying multi-millionaire impregnated, and the events which introduced Damien to his gilded circle of Debs and Debs' Delights this is a marvellously funny and sympathetic examination of how things used to be. Very few novelists have the insider knowledge Fellowes does - I can think of only Nancy Mitford and Mary Wesley - and his forensic understanding of class is, as you might expect from the screenplay of Gosford Park, exceptional. Many of his sentences are almost aphorisms - eg, "anyone with a brain gets nicer as they get older" - though of an optimisitic bent. His observations on marriage, and why clever women marry bores, are particularly acute.
I hope the many publishers who turned down Snobs feel as stupid as they are. Fellowes is the Thackeray of our time, and shows that the long-derided "silver fork" novel is just as fascinating as it always was.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great fun and a good improbable read. I did get a little wearied by the lessons on etiquette!!Published 3 months ago by hj
I can't be subjective, just too big a fan of Julian Fellowes who makes so accessible the understanding of upper British classes. Read in one go.Published 6 months ago by Pignon
fantastic book typical Julian Fellowes , I know this and Snobs were written before Downton Abbey,
just shows that Downton Abbey was not a one hit wonder.
An interesting vignette into the lifestyle of the debutantes and how the rich and titled occupied themselves in 1968, a window into a world of social climbers and money that has... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Stuart C.
The characters are meant to be unattractive snobs looking down on anything north of the Watford Gap, I get that, but I found their outlook irritating and smug. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Jazzman