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Snobs [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Julian Fellowes
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 2005 Wheeler Compass
A Times (London) bestseller from the author of Gosford Park
Edith Lavery, the pretty daughter of an accountant, meets gossip-column favorite Charles Broughton (Earl of Broughton and heir to the Marquess of Uckfield) at Ascot. When he proposes and she accepts, does she really love him, or is she merely dazzled by his title and money?
In a tale that mixes contemporary Jane Austen with the brilliant social commentary of Gosford Park, Julian Fellowes chronicles Edith’s rise and fall with twists and turns aplenty. Through the eyes of his narrator, a journeyman actor who manages to negotiate the choppy waters of snobbery and excess as he moves between the upper and middle classes, in SNOBS Fellowes gives us a delicious comedy of manners to rival Oscar Wilde at his wittiest.
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist

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.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Snob Indead! March 27 2005
Format:Paperback
What a marvelous find this book turned out to be! I must say, I almost did not read it. But I was curious, having read a critic of it in a magazine.
Snob is about a young woman in London, who marries a lord. In this day and age, with all that has been said about monarchy, the Royals and all the Scandals, it is surprising to care at all. I actually more then cared, I was fascinated. The author sets about to explain, very clearly indeed, the different way of life that the "higher class" has, or see themselves to have. He did a fantastic job at explaining the nuances and the traditions of a world that very few of "us" will ever experience. He pointed out, quite rightly, that we judge it and make fun of it yet, given a chance, we will all want to be invited in (most of us would deny this if asked!).
Edith sets about to marry a lord and once she does so, she is surprised to find out exactly what that life is all about. I don't want to give away too much but we follow her and her friends through a few years. Suffice it to say that she acts very badly and, yet I saw myself rooting for her, hoping she would pull it off, if only to give it back to a few people that had treated her badly (even if they were right, at times, to do so!). Throw in a few actors in the mix and it's off to a jolly good time!
Pick up this book if you want to be entertained!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars clever, witty, beautifully written novel Dec 8 2009
Format:Paperback
I picked up Snobs becuase I had also read Julian Fellowes novel Past Imperfect. I needn't have worried that Snobs couldn't possibly be as good - it was first rate, just as good, if not better. I wish he would write more! Fellowes is a brilliant observer of the English upper classes, but he is also a great story teller.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  162 reviews
71 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious June 3 2005
By Brett Benner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If EM Forster had a modern day equivalant, he would go by the name Julian Fellowes. An Oscar winner for his wonderful screenplay of 'Gosford Park' this satiric stab at the upper crust of British society is great fun, and a pleasure to read. The nameless narrator, a witty actor and wry observationist, befriends Edith Lavery, an attractive if slightly average woman itching to move from her ho- hum existance to the Royal lap of luxury. What follows is her steep ascent and almost as rapid descent, told through various dinners and social gatherings where the elite go to play, or at the very least be seen. The whole time reading I felt I had been steeped in a Merchant Ivory picture, or was sitting with the cast of 'Four Weddings and A Funeral' as their voices bobbed through my head. The story is very simple, serving as a backdrop to the larger strokes he paints about class and society, much like Alan Hollinghurst's 'The Line of Beauty'. The difference between the two is in tone, where Hollinghurst's is bleak, this is like a breath of fresh air.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sophisticated Entertainment, If Not Quite a "Novel" March 3 2006
By El Briano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book makes for great entertainment in its portrait of a way of life quite alien to most Americans, or known only to devotees of certain PBS fare. The English "aristocracy" retain a certain fascination, with their rituals and sense of "class", for the most part a matter of the lucky gene pool club rather than any real personal accomplishment. The author obviously feels an affinity for the aristocracy, notwithstanding the skewering he gives them. The book never quite has the feel of a "novel", although that hardly detracts from its entertainment value. On the whole, the book reads more like "new journalism", as the first person narrator for the most part describes, rather than creates, the characters, who are more than one-dimensional, but not quite three dimensional. The "form" tends to break down, as the author does not maintain consistent first person narration, but occasionally lapses into a conventional omniscient narrative, portraying incidents, conversations, etc. which the first person narrator could not have known. The most interesting character is Lady Uckfield, keeper of the flame, and it's a pity she was not the focus of the story rather than Charles and Edith, who emerge more as stereotypes than fully fleshed-out characters. The book is rich in trenchant observation and subtle wit, although the ending (I won't give it away) seems contrived and not up to the standard of the rest of the book. This would make a most delightful movie.
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, witty, and fun read March 2 2005
By Gregory Baird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a big fan of Gosford Park I was absolutely thrilled when I heard that its award-winning screenwriter had released a novel. And what joy! 'Snobs' has all of the wit, honesty, and intrigue of Gosford Park without feeling at all like a retread. It is about Edith, a socially ambitious woman who marries into wealth and privilege; however, once she has achieved her dream she becomes restless and hopelessly bored with the life she has chosen. Her life spins into scandal and, possibly, redemption as Fellowes uncovers just how shallow our ambitions can be. The true success of 'Snobs' is that it doesn't feel critical of human nature, just honest. Fellowes' prose is a joy to read, being both light and humorous. I would highly recommend this book.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully Decadent Oct. 7 2005
By Critique that - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I bought this book for my flight back home, because (yes I must admit!) the cover art was very good. Fellowes' writing style is very tight and succinct, developing Edith in a character as comparable as the ruthless femme fatale of Thackerey's Vanity Fair. Her duplicity is remarkable, succeeding in even convincing herself of her 'innocent' intentions. I laughed through every page (amidst stares from fellow passengers whom I'm sure must've thought I'm mad...and the white jacket didn't help!!) but at the back of my mind it was shockingly apparent that it could hardly be fiction at all but a brutal satire, Fellowes' spars with his quill as brilliantly as Wilde and Voltaire did in their day. It is brilliantly, paradoxically done. Portraying stereotypes amidst the English aristocracy as simply two-dimensional but developing each character in such a way that adds a human dimension to the stereotyped characters we see in newspapers. Fellowes' adds an exquisite spin on an everyday English occurence and that is the gift of a brilliant artist, to make the ordinary appear extraordinary.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Anglophile's Delight March 2 2005
By E. Rhodes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is an Anglophile's delight. If you are a fan of Masterpiece Theatre, Jane Austen, William Thackeray, Noel Coward, et al., then this is your perfect cup of tea.
SNOBS is immersed in the lives of the upper crust of British society and with those outsiders who desperately aspire to become a part of this rarified, privileged world. The plot centers upon the initially fortitious marriage of a beautiful, middle class young woman to a wealthy Earl from an illustrious British family. The Earl is earnest but dull and his new wife quickly tires of him and their lifestyle. Consequenly she creates a scandal by embarking on an affair with an extraordinarily handsome but callow, supercilious actor. This rather pedestrian, derivative plot is nonetheless made up for by Fellowes scintillating prose. He knows his territory well and provides the reader with an entertaining, clever and oh so sophisticated work.

The author's witty aphorisms concerning the upper set are exceptionally fun and insightful: "The English, of all classes as it happens, are addicted to exclusivity. Leave three Englishmen in a room and they will invent a rule that prevents a fourth joining them." "The upper classes are not, as a whole a complaining lot. As a group they would rather not 'go on about it'. A brisk walk and a stiff drink are their chosen methods of recovery whether struck in the heart or the wallet...it is not lack of feeling that marks them apart, rather it is a lack of expression of feeling." "The English always say you shouldn't have bothered to thank them, when, of all races on earth, they are the most unforgiving when one does not." Despite Fellowes satirical and acerbic commentary concerning the snobbish and frivolous nature of the English upper crust, the overall tone of this book leads one to believe that the author has a personal fondness and high regard for this set.

On a relatively minor negative note, Fellowes continuously alternates the narrative voice from the first person to the third person. I found this to be rather awkward and disconcerting. However, I MUST SAY (as the Brits repeatedly do), all minor criticisms aside, this novel is a joy and a delight.
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