Monday, August 29, 2016

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes

Belgravia by Julia Fellowes; editorial consultant Imogen Edward-Jones; historical consultant Lindy Woodhead --- 402 pages

As a fan of Downton Abbey I was quite looking forward to Fellowes' new novel, Belgravia, and intrigued by the advance publiclity of how he planned to serialize online with an app prior to the actual book publication.

Belgravia is set primarily in London in the first half of the nineteenth century. The plot centers on the potentially scandalous secret connecting the aristocratic Bellasis family of Belgravia and the nouveau riche  Trenchards of Eaton Square. It opens with the historic ball given by the Duchess of Richmond in Brussels on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo. The literary connection to Dickens, Thackeray and other nineteenth century Bristish novelists whose works were first serialized in popular magazines before they were published, is clear.

The book is divided into eleven episodes, with a "cliff-hanger" at the end of each, designed to leave the reader eagerly awaiting the next episode. Unfortunately, reading Belgravia is rather more like reading a script or a screenplay than a novel.  The bare bones of the story are there, but curiously lack that sensation of total immersion in a heightened reality.  We are missing the actors --- and the sets, the lighting, the costumes, the musical score, and all those collaborators who help bring a script or a screenplay to life.  Maybe it's been a long time since Fellowes pulled one off on his own, and it shows.

Click HERE for an article in The Atlantic on the novel as app.

Click HERE for an interview with Fellowes from National Public Radio.

Click HERE for an article from the UK Telegraph.

Click HERE for a review of Belgravia from the New York Times.

Click HERE for a review of Belgravia from the Seattle Times.

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