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Publisher's Summary

Julian Fellowes's Belgravia is the story of a secret. A secret that unravels behind the porticoed doors of London's grandest postcode. Set in the 1840s, when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche, Belgravia is peopled by a rich cast of characters. But the story begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. At the Duchess of Richmond's new legendary ball, one family's life will change forever.

©2016 Julian Fellowes (P)2016 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"...the story is expertly narrated by [Juliet] Stevenson, who paces it expertly in her highly listenable voice. Her delicious characterizations include some aggrieved and unctuous younger sons, a breathtakingly crisp countess, a good-hearted hero, a spirited heroine, shiver-inducing cardsharps, and oh so many more." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.7 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Fellowes is a Brand but the Narrator is a Marvel!

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

With Belgravia you get exactly what you expect from Julian Fellowes. After the success of Gosford Park and Downton Abbey as well as previous novels, he espouses the idiom of 'write what you know.'<br/>If you liked one of his works, you will probably like the others. No surprises here with Belgravia. Aristocrats and strivers, upstairs, downstairs and melodrama. Factual events and people mixed with the fictional. What I found annoying in his other works (particularly Downton Abbey) I found annoying in Belgravia. Fellowes can be a very lazy writer. He will describe in detail a woman's attire, but when it comes to pivotal turns in the plot he glosses over with exposition rather than dialogue and action. (Without spoiling anything I will point out that there is a MAJOR dinner party scene where truths are laid bare that is told in the most wan expositional fashion.) Lazy. He often did this on Downton Abbey. On many episodes throughout the series, important scenes took place off camera, or worse, Fellowes would flash forward to avoid having to illustrate real drama (the time shift from Matthew's death to Lady Mary in mourning comes to mind). Fellowes also seems to revel in the petty. His characters seem so small minded. Are they a product of their time or just a laboured plot device? Hard to tell.<br/><br/>But you do get what you pay for. Like Campbell Soup or Kleenex tissue, Fellowes is a marketed brand. Nothing fancy or remarkable, just reliable. So if you are looking for a comfortable historical fiction detailing the haves and have nots with engaging dialogue, but nothing too taxing or revelatory, you will keep good company with Julian Fellowes Belgravia.<br/><br/>I will make mention of the fantastic work by Juliet Stevenson. Her narration is remarkable in its depth and variety. She is comforting and dramatic and empathetic. I know her as an extraordinary actress (Bend It Like Beckham, Mona Lisa Smile, and especially Truly,Madly, Deeply ) But she absolutely dazzles as a narrator! I have listened to some of her other audio narration ( the novels of Jane Austen, Bronte, E.M. Foster and my particular favorites: the novels of Sarah Waters) and it was her name in the notes that made me purchase Belgravia. Brava!

Would you be willing to try another book from Julian Fellowes? Why or why not?

If I'm in the mood for a predictable historical novel of status, rank and melodrama.

What does Juliet Stevenson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She has an amazing range: dramatic, comforting and empathetic. I seek her out as a narrator. She never lets me down.

44 of 47 people found this review helpful

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Great Distraction

I loved it. Simple as that. Sweeping Family Dramas appeal to me (whether or not they are Downton Abby-esque) and this book fit the bill perfectly.

Reading through some of the more negative reviews, a common complaint is that the writing is a little lazy, the storylines are predictable, and that there is a lot of exposition. My reply to that is: true or not, I didn’t care because the story itself was so entertaining that I was able to tune out all the irritants - real or imagined.

It was a great distraction and transported me to another place and time for a few hours; I thoroughly enjoyed it!

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Meh

Not as good as I expected. Juliet Stevenson did a fabulous job with the narration. No complaints at all with that. She made the book much better than it was.

This was not anything like Downton Abbey. Not that I expected to be a clone. It wasn't even close. It was an overly long book (and I love long books) whose ending was obvious early on. I didn't find the characters easy to like and none really got my interest. Ann may be the exception.

There were parts that were good; the section in Brussels being the best.

I listened to the whole thing but I found it disappointing. Without the excellent narration this would have been 2 stars overall in my estimation.

21 of 26 people found this review helpful

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Overall, good for what it is

Any additional comments?

Julian Fellowes is a very skilled writer. Belgravia seems to be set up to be a serialized TV show, like Downton Abbey but taking place at a different time in history (1825 and 1840).One of Julian Fellowes' and thus Belgravia's strengths is the depth of knowledge of history and culture that make this book more than just a fluff piece. I particularly enjoy a novel that is enriched with that kind of detail, although it was interesting that he chose to assume ignorance on his readers' part and use the term market cart seller rather than the usual term costermonger. All he had to do was provide the definition once and his readers would be smart enough to remember that. A very small quibble.<br/><br/>I did enjoy istening to this book. It is by no means great literature, it is rather like a period soap opera in book form, but well enough done that it is a fun escape. The beginning is particularly well done; as the book goes on, the plot is fairly predictable. I found the characters engaging (Anne in particular) and was very invested in their various stories. <br/><br/>I am glad I listened to it, overall, it made for some fun hours of escape from every day life.<br/><br/>Juliet Stevenson is a narrator whom I trust; I've listened to her read many classics. She is as good as ever reading Belgravia. She is a bit more emotive at various times than is usual for her, but I thought she did her usual excellent job.

24 of 30 people found this review helpful

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Started out well but then...........

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

The author could stop treating his readers/listeners like we are fools. Throughout the story, nefarious characters searching for information to bring down two families just pop into the homes of strangers and get them to tell their life's story (plus dirt on others). It is insulting , to at least this listener, that he thinks we will believe an absolutely ludicrous story line like this.<br/><br/>Typical Fellowes writing- "Hi there, I don't know you but I was walking down the street admiring your beautiful tree and thought You'd ask me in and talk to me and answer anything at all and while you put on the kettle for some tea I'll just burrow through your personal items......"<br/><br/>Aaarrrrrggghhhh!!!!<br/><br/>

What do you think your next listen will be?

Just that the author won't be Fellowes

What aspect of Juliet Stevenson’s performance would you have changed?

She was alright.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Irritation

Any additional comments?

I think I've made my point

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Beyond Disappointing

An overly predictable and melodramatic soap opera with lazy writing. Only several chapters completed and I find I can't continue with the book. Terrible.

42 of 56 people found this review helpful

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  • Rebecca
  • Louisville, KY, United States
  • 10-18-16

Oh dear.

So disappointed. I'm an Anglophile and adore Downton. This one failed to catch fire. I didn't even care to finish it. His other books are better. Sigh.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyable!

Very enjoyable listen! I rarely give 5 stars for a performance, but Juliet Stevenson is well deserving. The story line, all be it a bit predictable, was entertaining, and kept my interest. I will look for more works by Julian Fellows, and certainly more narrations by Juliet Stevenson.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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For All Downton Abbey Fans

I just loved this book! The wonderful descriptions of life in 19th century England, and all the ridiculous ways of the class system. There is plenty of intrigue brought on by secrets and household staff that are looking to pad their own pockets rather than be loyal to their employers. Love and mayhem in arranged marriages and the line of inheritance. Juliet Stevenson is an amazing narrator giving just the right pace and tone for the story. Highly recommended!

10 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Couldn't Put it Down All Week!

Loved this book! Very Downton Abbey-esque, in the best ways possible. There are heroes, there are villains, and there are those who will surprise you. The writing is sharp and the storytelling is superb.

Perhaps not the most unpredictable of plots, but an enjoyable read nonetheless. Julian Fellowes is just as good on paper as he is on the screen, and I couldn't put this one down.

I also loved the narrator, so an all-around win!

7 of 12 people found this review helpful