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Julian Fellowes's Belgravia

Written by: Julian Fellowes
Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
Length: 15 hrs and 47 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (28 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

What the critics say

"...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

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

If you're into historical drama...

And the usual class warfare of the 1800's, you'll love Belgravia. It's rife with identity politics, class discrepancy, and family secrets. Julien Fellows does it again, and this time, with some incredibly intriguing mother-characters (which can be extremely hard to come by in this day and age).

Juliet Stevenson delivers a stunning performance as narrator. For Downton lovers, this is one you won't want to miss.

My only critique of the story is that the world seems a little small. Generally speaking, historical fiction takes into account a lot of the world around the narrative that is central to the story, and while there is an attempt at this at the beginning, the sentiment of the thread is not carried through the entire story.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful

One of the best books I have ever listened to
I highly recommend it
Enjoy

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

Really enjoy the story.

LOVE the narration. Didn't think I would enjoy the voice changes, but it added so much to the listening experience.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • M. T. Mirabile
  • 2016-08-14

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.

104 of 109 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Simone
  • 2017-08-03

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!

46 of 53 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Listener
  • 2018-07-07

Clever - Entertaining - Enjoyable

I hesitated so long to purchase this due to some bad reviews, which now that I finished the book, I find incomprehensible. I should have trusted my first instinct - 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. Thank you Baron Fellowes and I hope we are able to one day watch the big screen DA movie.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Maine Knitter
  • 2016-07-27

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.

27 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Hope
  • 2016-07-10

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.

30 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Rebecca
  • 2016-10-18

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.

15 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Nor'easter
  • 2016-09-24

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.

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......"

Aaarrrrrggghhhh!!!!

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

15 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Sara
  • 2016-09-06

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.

47 of 61 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Oral L. Washington
  • 2018-06-23

Great story

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • R. D. A. Whatley
  • 2018-06-11

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful