Julian Fellowes you might remember wrote the screenplay for Gosford Park – and won an Oscar for it.. In this novel of manners he tells the story of a social climbing young lady who manages to capture the heart of a young heir. Once ensconced in the aristocracy she puts it in jeopardy.
The story is told through the eyes of an actor who is himself “part of the establishment” and is an easy read. It’s a bit Jane Austenish in its portrayal of the upper classes but reads in fact as a bit of a manual. Fellowes observations seem incisive and accurate (how would I know that they are?) and because the narrator is one of the fold so to speak, you are able to both laugh at their foibles and sympathise.
I enjoyed the read.
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 them.’ “
And this one:
“The normal manner one has come to expect from hosts and fellow guests alike in an English country house is a state of moderately amiable lack of interest, The guests loaf about, reading magazines, going for walks, having baths, writing letters, without making any great social demands of each other. Only when eating – and even then only really at dinner – are they expected to ‘perform’. This lack of effort, this business of people barely raising their heads from their books to acknowledge one’s entry into a room, may seem rude to a foreigner (indeed it is rude), but I must confess it brings with it a certain relaxation.”
This last especially resonates with me. This is the perfect kind of house guest. One who just “does their own thing”. Who doesn’t expect you to entertain them or to entertain you! Those kinds of visitors are exhausting.
Maybe there’s a thread of blue blood under the polo fleece and ugg boots after all.