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By Lorna on 07-17-16
Reminiscent of Georgette Heyer
And none the worse for that. Full of typical Fellowes anachronisms, but a jolly romp through middle and upper class London, with satisfyingly unpleasant villains, enough nuanced characters to keep the listener's interest, and a limited number of wholly 'good' saps. Beautifully read by Juliet Stevenson.
30 of 32 people found this review helpful
By Victoria Long on 07-04-16
Really looked forward to this and I wasn't disappointed.
Juliet Stevenson read so well using different voices for each character. It felt like a dramatisation instead of a narration.
38 of 41 people found this review helpful
By Samantha Clarke on 07-17-16
A first class novel From Julian Fellowes with superb narration from Juliet Stevenson. Highly recommended!
17 of 18 people found this review helpful
By CAROL KILLA on 07-23-16
beautifully told story showing the prejudices of the class system in the early 19th century.
you get lost in the story. characters become real and you will be sorry to leave at the end.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
By Judith on 09-25-16
Great narration, poor novel.
Juliet Stephenson did a fantastic job narrating this. But the story, set in early-to-mid 19th century, was full of 2-dimensional characters, a plot where the overall outcome could be predicted very early on and the quality of the prose made Jeffrey Archer look accomplished. I won't bother with any more of Fellowes' novels, though am sure this could be made into an excellent TV dramatisation, complete with wonderful costumes.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Caz on 07-24-16
A superb multi-layered piece of historical fiction
This is a really enjoyable story with a very strong sense of place and time that takes a good look at the English class system in the Victorian era. It's beautifully written and developed and it’s full of acute social observation and comment delivered in a classically understated, English manner.
The story opens on the eve of Waterloo at the now infamous Duchess of Richmond's Ball. Sophia Trenchard, the daughter of the man known as "Wellington's Vittler", James Trenchard, is in love with Edmund, Viscount Bellasis, heir to the Earl of Brockenhurst. But there is no future for a viscount and a tradesman's daughter, and Sophia's mother, Anne, is very sensible of that and tries to caution her daughter.
Some months later, following Edmund's death in battle, Sophia realises she is pregnant and reveals to her mother that she had gone through a wedding ceremony with Edmund that she later discovered to be false. When Sophia dies in childbirth, Anne and James reluctantly decide to send him away to be brought up by a clergyman in order to protect Sophia's reputation.
The bulk of the story takes place some twenty-five years later as the two families from very different social classes, and who, but for that one twist of fate would almost certainly never have come into each others' orbits, discover that they are inextricably linked, in a way that sees petty jealousies explode into something far more dangerous.
The story is very well told and suits the episodic format employed. It's fairly slow paced, but that means there is ample time for character exploration and development, and the descriptions of the fashions and customs of the era are detailed and all contribute to that very strong sense of time and place I mentioned at the beginning.
Juliet Stevenson's performance is simply outstanding. Her vocal characterisations are many and varied and there is never any confusion as to who is speaking.
All in all, this is a thoroughly enjoyable listen and one I'd definitely recommend.
36 of 42 people found this review helpful