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Starred Review. Listeners will have little trouble believing that reader Morant was born into the rarified world that serves as the setting for this gossipy tale. He narrates with the lightest of touches, truisms about the English upper crust rolling off his tongue with powerful understatement. Fellowes is the author of the Oscar Award–winning screenplay Gosford Park, and his deliciously satiric debut highlights the foibles and snobbery of the contemporary British upper classes. Morant effortlessly embodies the narrator, a jovial unnamed actor content to remain an observer of his own social class, and he does an equally fine job portraying the people under the narrator's purview. With the proper blend of disdain and understanding, Morant gives voice to the social-climbing Edith Lavery, who marries to advance herself, but his interpretation of Edith's mother-in-law, Lady Uckfield, trumps even this achievement. As Fellowes explains, "Googie" always speaks in an intimate, girlish tone, as if she's letting one in on savory gossip, but listeners don't have to take his word for it. Morant tackles this delicious characteristic with gusto while still revealing the three-dimensional character underneath.
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As the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Gosford Park, Fellowes proved himself to be an arch observer of the quirks and customs of the British upper crust. Fast-forwarding half a century, he turns his attention to more contemporary characters still mired in the same class affectations and divisions. Beautiful Edith Lavery, an unabashed middle-class social climber, hits the jackpot when she snags the heir to an earldom. Not only is Charles Broughton titled but his clan has actually managed to maintain and increase the fabulous family fortune. Alas, life on the ancestral estate is not all that it is cracked up to be, and Edith soon grows weary of her dominating mother-in-law and bored with her stolid husband. After an unfortunate yet titillating dalliance, everyone stiffens their lips in proper public-school fashion and carries on admirably. This delightful comedy of manners good-naturedly lampoons a class of people whose artificiality is so inbred it becomes positively genuine. Veddy British, what? Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.