SNOBS

Julian Fellowes, Author . St. Martin's $23.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-33692-9

Wodehouse gets a modern twist in this brilliantly acerbic tale of snobbery and marital tomfoolery in 1990s London. Our nameless protagonist, a jovial, perceptive sort of 30-something fellow hanging affably about the fringes of society, introduces his middle-class but sleek and beautiful friend Edith Lavery to the earnest but dull Lord Charles Broughton. Much to the dismay of "civilized" society, Charles falls in love and proposes to the social-climbing but largely indifferent Edith. Even after she is married, Edith is snubbed and humiliated at every turn (in the slyest, politest possible way, of course), until she moves out in a huff with her married lover, Simon Russell, an actor/ego-on-legs who is eating up the publicity that comes with being seen with a countess and eager for this entrée into society (he doesn't realize Edith has been cast into the societal dung heap). To Edith's consternation, the glittering world of theater turns out to be just as small-minded and dull as that of society, with the added disadvantage of it not involving much money. Gossipy and dishy, this debut by the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Gosford Park is a merciless and hilarious sendup of snobbery and social jealousy, revealing the pettiness and self-absorption of both the envious and the envied. Agent, Cathy King at ICM (U.K.). (Feb. 10)

Forecast: Fellowes's satire of the English class system, a bestseller in the U.K., translates well for American readers. Anglophiles in particular will be in Brit-hit heaven.

Reviewed on: 01/17/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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