Snobs by Julian Fellowes

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From the creator of the Emmy-Award winning Downton Abbey...

"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 best comedies of manners are often deceptively simple, seamlessly blending social critique with character and story. In his superbly observed first novel, Julian Fellowes, winner of an Academy Award for his original screenplay of Gosford Park, brings us an insider's look at a contemporary England that is still not as classless as is popularly supposed.

Edith Lavery, an English blonde with large eyes and nice manners, is the daughter of a moderately successful accountant and his social-climbing wife. While visiting his parents' stately home as a paying guest, Edith meets Charles, Earl of Broughton, and heir to the Marquess of Uckfield, who runs the family estates in East Sussex and Norfolk. To the gossip columns he is one of the most eligible young aristocrats around.

When he proposes. Edith accepts. But is she really in love with Charles? Or with his title, his position, and all that goes with it?

One inescapable part of life at Broughton Hall is Charles's mother, the shrewd Lady Uckfield, known to her friends as "Googie" and described by the narrator---an actor who moves comfortably among the upper classes while chronicling their foibles---"as the most socially expert individual I have ever known at all well. She combined a watchmaker's eye for detail with a madam's knowledge of the world." Lady Uckfield is convinced that Edith is more interested in becoming a countess than in being a good wife to her son. And when a television company, complete with a gorgeous leading man, descends on Broughton Hall to film a period drama, "Googie's" worst fears seem fully justified.

In this wickedly astute portrait of the intersecting worlds of aristocrats and actors, Julian Fellowes establishes himself as an irresistible storyteller and a deliciously witty chronicler of modern manners.


About Julian Fellowes

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Julian Fellowes is the Emmy Award-winning writer and creator of Downton Abbey and the winner of the 2001 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Gosford Park. He also wrote the screenplays for Vanity Fair and The Young Victoria. He is the bestselling author of Snobs and Past Imperfect. His other works include The Curious Adventure of the Abandoned Toys and the book for the Disney stage musical of Mary Poppins. As an actor, his roles include Lord Kilwillie in the BBC Television series Monarch of the Glen and the 2nd Duke of Richmond in Aristocrats, as well as appearances in the films Shadowlands, Damage, and Tomorrow Never Dies. He lives in London and Dorset, England.
Published January 24, 2006 by St. Martin's Press. 292 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Snobs

Kirkus Reviews

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The distinction of the novel is in its practiced eye for class distinctions (e.g., “that fatal, diffident graciousness that marks the successful social climber”) and the long-bred behavior that keeps the aristocracy tethered in place despite the determined assault of numberless parvenus (so that ...

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The New York Times

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Edith's quest to marry into the aristocracy is the frame for Fellowes's observations on the upper class, as well as the middle class, with a few tangents thrown in about the world of actors, which, I guess, is a nod to the lower class.

Mar 13 2005 | Read Full Review of Snobs

The New York Times

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A lot of great thinkers concur -- Proust, for one, and look at the last lines of ''The Great Gatsby'': ''So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.'' This brings me -- since this is a book review and not a flippant essay on time -- to the novel ''Snobs,'' ...

Mar 13 2005 | Read Full Review of Snobs

The Guardian

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Snobs: A Novel by Julian Fellowes 320pp, Weidenfeld, £12.99 Edith Lavery, the heroine of Snobs, has, like Thackeray's Becky Sharp, but one ambition: to find a wealthy husband who will give her a position in society.

May 01 2004 | Read Full Review of Snobs

The Guardian

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Snobs by Julian Fellowes Weidenfeld & Nicholson £12.99, pp320 Because I am always in search of the new Nancy Mitford - this is a kind of literary holy grail with me - I had high hopes of this novel.

Apr 04 2004 | Read Full Review of Snobs

Book Reporter

While acknowledging an attraction to Edith, the narrator is aware that romance is not destined for them but cannot help relating his involvement from the fringes of Edith's life.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Snobs

AV Club

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He's made a career of playing British lords, princes, MPs, and other rarified social types on television and in film, and his screenwriting debut (Gosford Park), its follow-up (the 2004 adaptation of Vanity Fair), and his directorial debut (2004's Separate Lives) are all intimately concerned with...

Feb 22 2005 | Read Full Review of Snobs

Entertainment Weekly

The brown rice and dirndl-skirted generation of her childhood had given way to a brasher, post-Thatcherite world and weren't her dreams, in a way, in tune with that development?'' The nameless narrator of the novel is one of Edith's confidants, an actor who has the wit to offer a shrewd,...

Feb 09 2005 | Read Full Review of Snobs

The Bookbag

Aristocrats rarely make much social contact with people outside their own class as most gatherings are restricted to people they have always known or whom their friends have known.

Nov 25 2012 | Read Full Review of Snobs

USA Today

But in March, the new Geraldine Brooks historical novel derived from the classic, the war is front and very much center.Here, Brooks allows the absent father of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March to tell his own tale, far from the cozy home front in Concord, Mass.

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Portland Book Review

Creator Julian Fellowes is also an author, and his first book, Snobs, has just been released in the U.S. It takes all the intrigue, class clashes, stuffy aristocrats and nouveau riche social climbers and sets them in modern day England for a wry look into a society that is still observing the mor...

Jul 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Snobs

A couple of observations in particular made me smile: “To an Englishman or woman of a certain background the answer, ‘Well, I’ve met them but they wouldn’t remember me’ means ‘I have not met...

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Spectator Book Club

Events unfold in an immensely imposing and well-capitalised stately home in East Sussex — the family still have substantial ‘London holdings’ — and in other smart, secondary locations.

Apr 03 2004 | Read Full Review of Snobs

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