Julian Fellowes's Belgravia

Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
Series: Julian Fellowes' Belgravia, Book 1-11
Length: 15 hrs and 47 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3,664 ratings)

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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 listeners say about Julian Fellowes's Belgravia

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Accept the Flaws and It’s a Good Story

In favor of this book, I don’t feel like the plot is predictable - but that being said, it may be because there are looong stretches of time between the occurrence of events in the book. I feel like the book could have benefited from more rigorous editing, but I concede that such a transformation may have diminished Fellowes’ voice, if that is something that you find compelling.

My three biggest complaints are:

1. It took FOUR HOURS to get to the introduction of the main plot/romance.

2. There are extended interludes between updates on the different storylines, so much so that I sort of felt a sense of abandonment. Literal DAYS and weeks pass in the story before we go back to seeing main characters.

3. When major reveals are happening between characters, Julian Fellowes cuts away from the scene (much like he did with Downton Abbey). We lose the satisfaction of reading X’s reaction to Y’s news, because we get to the drawing room door, and the next time we see X is 100 pages later, and the news has already been digested. The biggest reveal in the book happens entirely “offscreen,” and I felt cheated that we missed out on the satisfaction of seeing the plot of 350 pages finally come to fruition.

Those three points aside, I did feel drawn to continue and complete the book. The story is quite interesting, but the book could have been better.

If you are a fan of this genre, and of Julian Fellowes, this is a worthy story to add to your collection.

Apparently there is an app to go along with this story with maps and photos and additional information - I think that would be interesting and would really add to the experience of the story.

33 people found this helpful

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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.'
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.

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.

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.

141 people found this helpful

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Clever - Entertaining - Enjoyable

I hesitated so long to purchase this due to some bad reviews, but now finished, I made the right choice. I should have trusted my first instincts - that this would be along the lines of DA, which I loved. And it is just that, but a whole new clever and often charming story.

18 people found this helpful

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Great story

Beautifully written and performed. Highly recommend. Fellows captures characters like no other. I would definitely recommend.

8 people found this 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!

60 people found this helpful

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Delightful

Everything necessary to a good story without any extras. Humor, intrigue, and well written characters developed towards a satisfying end, most enjoyable and satisfying! Would recommend to anyone looking for a good enjoyable read or listen.

6 people found this helpful

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if you liked Downton Abbey...

Very good story with interesting twists & turns. A 'can't put it down' listen. You'll enjoy this setting in the city.

6 people found this 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.

33 people found this 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.

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.

I am glad I listened to it, overall, it made for some fun hours of escape from every day life.

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.

36 people found this helpful

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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.

17 people found this helpful