Going into Snobs by Julian Fellowes, I thought I was going to see more criticisms of the upper-class. That wasn’t the case and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The story begins with a group of late twenty, early thirty-somethings who are trying to find their way in life and the British class system. The Narrator, who’s name isn’t given, meets a young woman named Edith at a mutual friends from the weekend. All of these friends were educated at the big name private schools, brushing elbows the upper-class, landed gentry.
It seems that half of them are happy with their upper-middle class lives, but most of them are trying to break into the upper-class either through marriage or through intimate friends. This is where the novel of manners begins. Edith finds herself romantically attached to an heir and Narrator ends up being her only ally in this new world. Apparently, Narrator has some connections and Lord and Lady Uckfield are happy to accept him into their circle to act as their ambassador to Edith’s world.
What follows is the consequence of all of Edith’s jockeying to make the leap into the aristocracy. Narrator keeps up with them all and is our guide into this odd world. The ultimate point of the novel is that while every one admires the upper-class, their world isn’t perfect. The sacrifices it takes to make it into the upper-class through marriage comes with consequences. The choice is whether one is willing to take responsibility for it.
With a mix of Austen and Dickens, a dash of Ishiguro, and a side of Fitzgerald Julian Fellowes draws us into the the landed gentry of contemporary Britain. It’s not quite a criticism of class but rather an exploration of the consequences of our decisions and how people face challenges no matter the class.