I think it’s safe to say that Julian Fellowes has become one of my favorite authors. Not only because he writes about my favorite subject: British nobility; but because he writes about them so well and in a way that I have not read from other authors. I read his book Snobs and thought that it was a good read. Very detailed and telling about the gentry families of England. Past Imperfect is very different. He still writes about the high families and their posh lifestyle, but this book gets psychological about the nobility.
The story follows the narrator on a quest for a former enemy to find his illegitimate child by a woman from their youth. Of course, the narrator is reluctant at first to relive the Debutante Season of 1968, but when he learns that Damian Baxter is a dying man, he gives in to his whims to track down the child. Our narrator must travel back in time and he takes us readers on quite a journey.
The description on the back of the book tells me all of this and I expected a well-told life history of debutante balls, fancy dinners, and teenage shenanigans. I got what I was expecting, but with a little twist in which the narrator also describes the current lives of the women he revisits which are less than happy ones. We visit a woman with a husband who cannot be trusted with money; a woman with a bully banker for a husband; one who’s been the love of the narrator’s life for forty years; a Californian, plastic-surguried woman who has had more than her fair share of husbands; and a husband of one of the women who died a tragic death. Our narrator goes on an emotional roller coaster trying to find the child in question to satisfy a dying man’s request.
I already knew I would like the book because Fellowes writes really well. Every manor house we visit is described in perfect detail. Every instance of well-born routine is perfectly executed. His writing is part of the reason I want to be a part of that world so badly. I appreciated, though, that he wrote about less-than-perfect situations. It opened my eyes to a world I want to be a part of so badly, and made me realize that it’s not all fancy parties and exquisite balls. Now, I’m not naive enough to believe that these people don’t have their own problems, but I rarely get to read about them.
I hope Julian Fellowes keeps writing. There are still other books of his I need to get my hands on. Other noble families that need their stories told. Even if they are fictional.