REVIEW: Belgravia, Julian Fellowes

I have been waiting for some time to read Belgravia. As a huge fan of Downton Abbey, I was looking forward to reading something to fill the gap and saved this novel for a time when I could read it in one or two sittings, the Christmas holidays.

Belgravia is set in 1840s and goes some way to describe the social complexities of time. Written with the rich historical details we have come to expect from Fellowes, the reader is slowly drawn into the life of Sophia Trenchard, a merchants daughter. Without giving too much away, there is a secret amongst the Trenchard family that they wish to keep from society.

A vast array of characters keeps this novel interesting, with the lives of servants mingling with the very rich, giving an insight into the workings of British society at that time. The details about the way people dressed, travelled and what they ate give this novel a realistic feel. It feels like a novel from that time, other than it is far more accessible.

Belgravia could be seen as a cliché, falling back on the period drama phenomenon, but it is the characters and the plot which stop the novel from becoming just that. The characters are sometimes lovable, but often the reader is allowed to dislike, mistrust or even hate various characters. The plot is wonderfully crafted, the pace changing often. From the first chapter we think we are reading one thing, only to discover the novel which change completely.

There were some great twists, even if the ending was just a little too neat. I do wonder if another ending would have been more surprising and satisfactory to the reader.

Overall Belgravia does not disappoint. It is well-written, its characters are believable and the plot moves with a great sense of pace.

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