Woman&Home Books Editor FANNY BLAKE reviews Julian Fellowes’s BELGRAVIA
Julian Fellowes is best known as creator, writer and executive producer of Downton Abbey as well as scriptwriter for Robert Altman’s Gosford Park. But he is also a novelist, having previously published two bestselling novels Snobs and Past Imperfect. And now Belgravia.
A departure from his earlier novels, Belgravia is an epic saga originally written in eleven instalments for download onto a PC, phone or tablet.
The novel opens in 1815 at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo. When word comes that Napoleon has crossed the border, the Duke of Wellington and his troops leave the ball and head straight into battle. At the ball are relentless social-climber James Trenchard with his wife Anne and daughter Sophia who catches the eye of Edmund Bellasis, son of Lord and Lady Brockenhurst, stalwarts of the aristocracy. What happens between them will have repercussions that stretch down the years to affect both families.
Twenty-five years later, a chance meeting between Anne Trenchard and Lady Brockenhurst brings a secret into the open that could bring about the downfall of the Trenchard family.
So we are introduced into Victorian high society where old money rubs shoulders with new. This is a world full of family resentment and betrayal, intrigue and jealousies, where secrets and scandals are common currency and reputations are made and broken. Romance smoulders among the corsets and costumes of the Victorian drawing rooms where fictional characters cross the paths of real-life historical figures.
Written with brio, the novel races along with all the page-turning suspense of a thriller. Will the members of the Trenchard or the Bellasis family get their just deserts? A glittering costume drama packed with authentic period detail, it’s also a clever, involving read that brilliantly summons up a bygone world.