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Snobs: A Novel Hardcover – 5 Apr 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; 01 edition (5 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297848763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297848769
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.1 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 69,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Ross TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 May 2006
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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By DeeJayH VINE VOICE on 5 Aug. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Although they might intermingle within the pages of Hello! the aristocrat and the A'list celebrity live in different worlds. However, Julian Fellowes has a foot in both worlds and, like many before him, his first novel is set within an environment he is familiar with. The plot is a sort of 'menages trois' (Julian's characters have a fondness for lapsing into French) but like Gosford Park the plot isn't that riveting, where Julian excels is in social anthropology. If you believed, like John Major, that we were on the brink of a classless society then let Julian reveal the truth to you as he explains little oddities such as the upper classes usage of their nursery nicknames throughout their life. Peppered with insights and seasoned with scandal but not over done, a rare treat for escapist reading.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
A thoroughly enjoyable book and one, I was surprised to find, that stayed with me longer than usual after I'd finished it - probably because beneath the humour and even despite the happy ending, it is quite sad. It seems awful that Charles, the heroine's decent husband, should suffer so merely because he is titled and rich but not interesting or clever enough, and I couldn't help feeling that the strength, intelligence and self-discipline of the Lady Uckfields of this world could sort out the entire planet, if only the business of snobbery didn't demand so much of their time and all of their resources.
The satire is beautifully done - it has bite, true, but Fellowes does not fall into the tedious and common trap of either despising or glorifying the people about whom he writes. The detail is glorious and funny. Strongly recommended - and I do hope he keeps on writing!
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