Saturday, 3 October 2009

Past Imperfect - Julian Fellowes

Last week I saw a review of this book by Anne Brooke over on Vulpes Libris and could not resist buying it immediately - which meant I had an excuse to buy other books and therefore bought far too many but that's another story...

Damian Baxter is very, very rich. But he has one concern, which is becoming more urgent as the weeks go by: who should inherit his fortune. A letter from an ex-girlfriend suggests that, as a young man, Damian may have fathered a child, but the letter is anonymous. Finding the truth will not be easy – and the only man who knows where to look is Damian’s sworn enemy.

I shall begin by mentioning the black and white image that graces the cover of Past Imperfect. I think that it's an absolutely stunning choice - just look at the intensity - for a book that describes the collapse of the old British aristocratic way of life. The book is narrated by an man who was part of the London scene 1960s and chronicles the end of The Season as a crop of d├ębutantes (often heavily guided by their parents) scramble for suitable husbands as the social upheaval of the Sixties takes its toll and their way of life changes forever.

Whilst the light Fellowes shines on most of the characters is an unflattering one it was almost impossible not to feel compassion as the social order utterly changed almost overnight and left a generation floundering and struggling to adapt. For an excellent and thorough review do go and read Anne's one and I absolutely agree with her observations about what lets down an otherwise excellent book.

Clearly this is a book that divides opinions though and I trot out Exhibit A from Kate Kellaway writing for the Observer in October last year "Reading Past Imperfect is like being stuck at a party with a bore and being forced to do that unpardonably rude thing - look over his shoulder in the hope of spotting someone, anyone - more interesting on the horizon." Ouch.

The author, Julian Fellowes, is the same Julian Fellowes who wrote Gosforth Park (I suspect that the clue was in the name but I really didn't connect it) and by complete coincidence on the day I started reading this book I listened to a recent Simon Mayo/Mark Kermode film podcast where he was a guest and they mentioned this book. Apparently it's been optioned and, if made well, this could be a really interesting film and I would love to see who they cast!


Anne Brooke said...

Glad you enjoyed the read! And that other critique is certainly on the sharp side of sharp. Perhaps she was reading another book??



Anne B

Peta said...

He he - it was a tad on the harsh side!

The Literary Stew said...

I didn't enjoy this as much as I did Snobs or Gosford Park...however, yes, it would probably make a great film!

Peta said...

I've not read Snobs as yet but look forward to doing so as I'd like to read more of his work.