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Past Imperfect [Kindle Edition]

Julian Fellowes
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
Kindle Price: $8.89
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Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

From the creator of the Emmy Award-winning Downton Abbey...
 
“Damian Baxter was a friend of mine at Cambridge. We met around the time when I was doing the Season at the end of the Sixties. I introduced him to some of the girls. They took him up, and we ran about together in London for a while….”

Nearly forty years later, the narrator hates Damian Baxter and would gladly forget their disastrous last encounter. But if it is pleasant to hear from an old friend, it is more interesting to hear from an old enemy, and so he accepts an invitation from the rich and dying Damian, who begs him to track down the past girlfriend whose anonymous letter claimed he had fathered a child during that ruinous debutante season.

The search takes the narrator back to the extraordinary world of swinging London, where aristocratic parents schemed to find suitable matches for their daughters while someone was putting hash in the brownies at a ball at Madame Tussaud’s. It was a time when everything seemed to be changing—and it was, but not always quite as expected.




Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A middle-aged Londoner is forced to revisit his past in Fellowes's slick and dexterous second novel (after the bestselling Snobs). Former friend Damian Baxter, after 40 years of estrangement, convinces the unnamed narrator to locate the woman Damian believes to have borne his child in 1968. As the narrator looks back on the events of that fateful summer, Fellowes exercises his considerable talent for observing the nuances of custom and class distinction. Especially interesting are the frequent digressions to consider the peculiar juncture of their "safe little, nearly-pre-1939 world" with the Swinging Sixties. In the narrator's circle of friends-who would fit comfortably into a Trollope novel-the ossified conventions of the upper class still hold sway, yet the '60s make an appearance as well, enlivening a debutante party with surprise hash brownies. We quickly discover that middle-class Damian (a "social mountaineer") managed to insinuate himself into this smart set until a terrible scene tears apart the group of friends. Deservedly compared to Tom Wolfe, Fellowes, with his ability to document the aristocracy with a sociologist's eye, fashions intriguing narratives.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Julian Fellowes has a wickedly keen eye for observing the habits of the upper classes ... Past Imperfect is intelligently and wittily written. DAILY EXPRESS PAST IMPERFECT is a brilliant observation of the upper classes of society by Julian Fellowes...Julian is the perfect writer of this genre and his rendition on audio very definitely gives you a flavour of the atmosphere of the period... An audio book to enjoy at leisure. BOOK FIENDS KINGDOM www.bfkbooks.com thoroughly enjoyable. -- Sue Arnold THE GUARDIAN

Product Details

  • File Size: 655 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002NANLBK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,278 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
88 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyable January 23, 2010
By Mae
Format:Hardcover
I picked up this book because of back-cover blurbs mentioning P.G. Wodehouse, Evelyn Waugh, Nancy Mitford, and Oscar Wilde, not realizing until later that the blurbs were in praise of Snobs, Fellowes's first book. I don't know about Snobs, but Past Imperfect was nothing like Wodehouse or Wilde, not much like Waugh, and maybe a very little bit like Mitford.

I enjoyed it so much I looked the author up here and was surprised to find relatively negative reviews. The author does sometimes come across as snobbish and frequently expresses strong opinions and tastes, but I liked that it was written from a distinctive point of view, whether or not I agreed with his various judgements. It was also pleasant to read a book so careful in its language (in the sense of grammar, punctuation, usage, and general style).

The five star review, however, is for its living up to all the good-book cliches: I couldn't put it down, I didn't want to stop reading, etc. Characters are introduced gradually; most are multifaceted enough that the reader's opinions of them change throughout the book. The writing is skillful enough that one barely notices that the narrator's name is never given, and it is similarly unobtrusive when a character is referred to simply as, for example, so-and-so's husband for a while, and then when the name is given, one learns it is actually an already-introduced character, so there are small surprises and revelations throughout the story as well as the answer to the book's main question at the end.

I finished it today and now I want to get Snobs ASAP.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In 1968 the London Season was on the wane. At one time it referred to the annual period when it was customary for members of the a social elite to hold posh debutante balls, dinner parties various soirees, large charity events, etc.. This period could begin any time after Christmas, depending upon the success of the hunting season in the country. It also coincided with the sitting of Parliament. London became a virtual marriage market during the Season. There were only a few short months for eligible debutantes to be officially presented to the queen, attend approximately 50 balls, 60 parties, 30 dinners and 25 breakfasts in order to, hopefully, find themselves a wealthy, titled husband. And a young lady was not considered approved for the marriage market until she was presented at court - her curtsy to the queen had to be impeccable if she were to succeed.

However, in 1968, the world was in a period of flux - politically and socially. This was the end of one era and the beginning of another. Although many of the traditions and customs remain, the official organization of the Season no longer exists The presentation of debutantes at court was abolished by Queen Elizabeth II in 1958. And while the London Season continues - young debs still have to be married, as do eligible bachelors - the scale of events has been cut-back significantly.

Boutique clothes and micro mini-skirts from Carnaby Street were "in," as were the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in 1968. Charles, Prince of Wales, was probably dating his Camilla - although both were single at the time. And the unnamed narrator of "Past Imperfect," fresh out of Cambridge, was enjoying himself, along with his circle of friends. Prominent amongst these friends was the handsome, debonair Damian Baxter.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This novel further confirmed my belief that John Calvin must have been thinking of the English when he made "Total Depravity" the first point of Calvinism. Not to say the worse of it. A little depravity now and then is relished by the wisest men.

Damian Baxter, a dying, friendless self-made billionaire who crashed the London debutante scene in 1968 when a poor young man engages a former enemy, now a moderately successful writer, to determine if any of his debutante conquests bore him a child who can inherit his fortune. During his quest, the writer interweaves amusing flashbacks to the declining debutante scene that followed the abolition of "Presentment" by Queen Elizabeth II in 1958 with the subsequent histories of the women on Damian's list, all the while reflecting, with genuine insight and humor, on what the English have lost and gained as a society in the intervening years. For many readers, these reflections will be the most memorable passages in the book.

I would compare Past Imperfect favorably to A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell. Though much less ambitious than Powell's 12-novel cycle, and sometimes weaker in characterization, it nearly matches Powell's humor, and if the characters are less vividly drawn, they are always believable. Being an American who resides in the west, I found the botoxed and face-lifted LA infomercial host with imaginary food allergies, in particular, to be spot on. I meet her every day.

The characters are all upper-middle or upper class, so if you think that squalor and degradation are the only fit subjects for literature, don't read this book. Go read Erskine Caldwell instead.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 to 4 stars - mostly liked this
I mostly liked this book, though there are some tedious parts. The overall premise is very interesting and I was drawn in, wanting to know what happens. Read more
Published 21 days ago by amtmcm
4.0 out of 5 stars FELLOWES SHOWS LIKE REMEBRANCES OF THINGS PAST
FELLOWES SHOWS LIKE REMEBRANCES OF THINGS PAST, ˜LA RECHERCHE FROM PROUST- THE LIFE AND CHANGES OF BRITISH ARISTOCRACY . Read more
Published 28 days ago by Manoel Motta
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
meh
Published 1 month ago by Patricia Whittaker
4.0 out of 5 stars Humor and soul
Very funny, honest, moving and subtly profound. The plot structure is a little artificial, and not particularly original -- Jim Jarmusch's film Broken Flowers used a similar device... Read more
Published 2 months ago by amy
3.0 out of 5 stars not his best effort, though good in parts
"Past Imperfect" by Julian Fellowes is an uneven work--at times clever and insightful, and at others plodding and almost painful to read. Read more
Published 2 months ago by K. Kennedy
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating revelation of the changes in attitude and life style ...
Fascinating revelation of the changes in attitude and life style of the upper class from the 1950's until the present. Read more
Published 3 months ago by patcangolf
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully done!
Although the details, at first, seemed a bit too lengthy, I found I read every word. Knowing very little of the class system prevalent in those times, I struggled in understanding... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars A bore
Julian Fellowes may write magnificent scripts for television but this novel is a bore. It reads like a society column of the 60s in a daily tabloid. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Montcler
5.0 out of 5 stars life is very inconsistent
Each character was so finely developed. The story sounded like a true story and touched my emotions. I have recommended this to a few friends.
Published 4 months ago by Traveler
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good beach book
Published 4 months ago by jackie brittingham
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More About the Author

Julian Fellowes has had an illustrious career in film, theatre, television and literature. Among his many screenplays are the Oscar-winning Gosford Park, The Young Victoria, and Vanity Fair. He has directed and performed in numerous films and television series, and his novels include the Sunday Times bestselling novel, Snobs. Julian lives in Dorset with his family.

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