After first debuting as 11 serial downloads, Julian Fellowes’s newest take on old money, Belgravia (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample), is being published in a single print volume.
Reviews are range from raves to disappointment.
USA Today is entirely positive, praising the “juicy” 400 pager for its “zipping” pace and giving it four out of four stars. The paper goes on to say Fellowes “channels Dickens, Austen and romance queen Georgette Heyer” in his novel of “class snobbery, social climbing, lucky orphans and family secrets.”
In the upcoming NYT Sunday Book Review, author Daisy Goodwin, whose romantic historicals have tilled similar ground to Fellowes, is not as impressed, “Reading Belgravia is rather like visiting a modern re-creation of a Victorian house — every cornice molding is perfect — but it’s a Victorian house with 21st-century plumbing and Wi-Fi. It’s for anyone who has tried to read a 19th-century novel and become bored.”
Addressing the big question of how it will play with Downton Abbey fans, Goodwin says there is “plenty to enjoy here, and there’s no one like Fellowes for giving good dowager. But without the talents of great actors to turn stereotypes into human beings, much of the characterization … Belgravia has everything one would expect of a Victorian novel, apart from its sentimental heart.”
As we noted in the July 4th Titles To Know, The Seattle Times found that, in comparison to Downton, “Belgravia, unfortunately, feels like a respectable but socially inferior cousin; it might get invited to dinner, but only out of obligation.”
Regardless of these reviews, and while readers did not embrace the serial format, holds are very strong at several libraries we checked, easily topping a 3:1 ratio.