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Past Imperfect

3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,608 Ratings  ·  407 Reviews
Damian Baxter is hugely wealthy and dying. He lives alone in a big house in Surrey, England, looked after by a chauffeur, butler, cook and housemaid. He has but one concern—his fortune in excess of 500 million pounds, and who should inherit it on his death. Past Imperfect is the story of a quest. Damian Baxter wishes to know if he has a living heir. By the time he married ...more
410 pages
Published October 30th 2008 by Weidenfeld & Nicholson
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tea Jovanović
Apr 16, 2013 Tea Jovanović rated it really liked it
Od autora D. Abbey :) Sjajan je!
Kate
Jan 22, 2012 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who wish they were posh
Past Imperfect is set in 1968, where everybody in the upper classes is trying to pretend its the 20s, but thanks to the sepia-coloured narration we can tell that their days are numbered, and what a surprise, you can tell that they kind of know it too. The narrator, now a writer, was a peripheral part of the debutante set who introduced a charming, handsome, distinctly middle-class interloper Damien Baxter into their set. A natural social climber, Damien seems intent on penetrating the upper-clas ...more
Trish
Sep 13, 2009 Trish rated it liked it
Fellowes is amusing because he is keenly observant, advantageously placed, literate, and loquacious. He puts words together in a way that makes us smirk and smile and acknowledge to be largely truthful, if not entirely. He writes of a class of society most of us will never know personally: the rich, the famous, the titled. While we may not aspire to the life these people endure, there is something intrinsically interesting about a life without the more usual set of boring constraints most of us ...more
Maia
Wish Goodreads had a 'an a half' star system... I actually felt 'pain' when giving this novel 2 stars instead of, at least, 3!! Just finished reading it last night and still cant shake off the sense that i ought to have enjoyed it more, that within this long, deeply textured novel should have been better epiphanies and richer discoveries, none which I experienced. I really liked Gosford Park and I absolutely loved 'Snobs', so I was totally ready to enjoy this second novel, too, and yet, for me, ...more
Blair
This is an extraordinarily evocative book and I truly relished reading it. It's so descriptive that you almost feel as if you're part of the events taking place, and the many switches between the narrator's youth in the late 1960s and the present day are deftly handled. The characters are frequently somewhat grotesque, but this serves to make them both intriguing and eay to distinguish from each other - useful since there are a lot of people in this story. The narrator also provides a commentary ...more
Caitlin
Dec 30, 2009 Caitlin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
I expected this book to be a fun, insubstantial bit of fluff. Boy, was I surprised.

Mr. Fellowes wrote the screenplay for Gosford Park and is the author of another novel that I haven't read, but now will. He's working in P.G. Wodehouse/Evelyn Waugh territory - an English novel of manners - a mix of novel and ethnography of the upper crust with plenty of humor thrown in.

The premise is a lovely one. The narrator's decidedly former friend, Damien, is dying. The quest: to find Damien's hitherto unkno
...more
Maria
Jan 03, 2016 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Peguei neste livro numa feira de velharias porque o nome do autor me invocou uma série que gosto muito - ele é o criador de Downton Abbey. Quiz ver o que ele conseguia fazer numa nota um pouco mais contemporânea.

E gostei! O livro é denso do ponto de vista psocilógico e social,já que retrata uma sociedade em decadência de valores pós-II Guerra, um mundo que desapareceu no dealbar dos anos 70.
Uma coisa curiosa: o nosso narrador nunca é nomeado. O nome dele nunca é citado uma unica vez que seja. Ma
...more
JulesQ
Jun 11, 2010 JulesQ rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Fellowes is undoubtedly good at what he does. The book is very readable and I didn't even notice until almost the end of the book that I didn't know the narrator's name, which means that the not naming of the narrator was not a pretentious literary move, but the best way to tell the story. So good job with that, Fellowes. He also had a lot of interesting cultural observations many of which I agree with.

However there are two things which made it so I couldn't give this book a better rating, one i
...more
Faith Mortimer
Sep 28, 2009 Faith Mortimer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A big book of 500 pages. This makes it a bumper book af about 170,000 words. Now, some agents/publishers say that a book shouldn't exceed 80-100,000 words even if it is historical. Well perhaps they don't have quite the attention span of most enthusiasteic readers of today. For myself, I was totally absorbed throughout the span of the book.

The book is set in the present and periodically takes the main part of the story back to the London Season of 1968. This, for the narrator is a glittering tim
...more
Trish
May 30, 2012 Trish rated it really liked it
I'd like to give 3.5 stars, but can't figure that out. Sigh.

Anyway, this was MUCH better than Snobs, Fellowes' book I read before this one. The plot is nicely strategized around a simple dilemma of DNA of whose child is whose, and comically and melancholically moved through by a middle-aged man revisiting friends whom he hasn't seen or spoken to in 20-odd years, due to a Great-Event in Portugal that broke an old group of friends apart. This incident is referred to throughout the book, a bit too
...more
Keith
Sep 07, 2012 Keith rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Kristen Wilson
Shelves: fiction, ebooks, 2012
As a fan of "Downton Abbey" I pounced on Julian Fellowes novel Past Imperfect and a swell story it is. It is, first and foremost, not a novel of Edwardian manners and mores but, on the other hand, a modern novel which is set in 2008 and looks back to events in 1968. The story is narrated by a nameless narrator (unless I missed it, he is never named) who is a moderately successul London-based novelist. Out of the blue he receives a request from Damien Baxter, a person he knew from the London seas ...more
Becky
Jul 29, 2015 Becky rated it liked it
"Past Imperfect," by "Downton Abbey" writer Julian Fellowes, plays out an interesting premise -- rich old bastard Damian Baxter hires his estranged friend to track down five women from their past before he dies (and his death is imminent), for the purpose of discerning whether he is the father of any of their children.

You see, before Damian was a rich old bastard, he was a penniless young bastard who horned in on the aristocratic social season (with the help of his now-estranged friend) in the
...more
Laurie Carroll
Mar 26, 2012 Laurie Carroll rated it really liked it
I have been so smitten with Julian Fellows' Downton Abbey that I had to follow up with some of his other works while waiting out Season 3. Well done, again! While Past Imperfect reads as a personal journal as well as a personal journey and can be slow at times, Fellows worked in a rather clever twist at the end. Past Imperfect pulls at the heartstrings while chronicling the decline of the British aristocracy within Fellows lifetime. I found myself constantly comparing what I know of my parents' ...more
Kasa Cotugno
This novel by the Academy Award winning scriptor of Godsford Park is one of my favorite types of books -- an English novel of manners, a little suspense, this is a portrait of Britain at the end of one era and the start of the next. As in the Jim Jarmish film Broken Flowers, a man's search for a child he fathered 40 years ago by revisiting the possible mothers sets the plot in motion. The purported parentage is only the device however, and each maternal possibility represents another aspect of B ...more
Victoria Klein
Nov 10, 2009 Victoria Klein rated it it was amazing
This is just a delicious book! Julian Fellowes has all the equipment of my favorite British writers: the eliptical sentences, perfect pitch irony, seeming restraint against the forces of hilarity, and the wonderful wacky set pieces that seem to beset the English in particular. His subject is a knowing look at the British Upper Classes and he writes about his subjects with a twinkling but candid eye.
The story, about a dying gazillionaire searching for his love child at the eleventh hour out of a
...more
Tigerlee
Mar 23, 2014 Tigerlee rated it it was ok
A well written novel set in the late 1960's aristocratic society. I found it hard to get into and although written well, it was hard to digest and felt very long winded. It's one of the first books I wanted to just give on. I feel this would translate well being made into a one off tv drama.
Jeanne
Mar 16, 2015 Jeanne rated it it was amazing
As my GR friends know, I give very few 5*s, but "Past Imperfect" has earned every one. It's always a good sign when, early on (in this case page 6) you find a phrase that resonates. "It wasn't exactly love, but it was...something." This book is about relationships, past, present, "imperfect," and it has everything I appreciate...brilliant & witty writing, fully developed characters, intriguing plot with surprises, and a satisfying ending. Fellows has the most wonderful sense of humor, someti ...more
Sylvia
Dec 31, 2013 Sylvia rated it really liked it
If I could I'd give 4.5 stars. I liked it! For fans of Downton Abbey, I think you will like this even though you will have to move forward in time to the 1960s. England is beginning to prosper again, at long last, but not necessarily the landed gentry. New wealth is making its appearance, and so are the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. But there are also still debutantes, balls and fierce Society Matrons. Because I had British friends of this era, and had glimpses of this, it was especially inter ...more
LG
Oct 29, 2014 LG rated it really liked it
I can imagine this as a miniseries, and who would be better to adapt it for the screen than its author, the creator of Downton Abbey? If you’re at all interested, you’ll get no clearer insight into the British upper crust than from Fellowes – he is England’s Wharton or Fitzgerald. (If not, I assume you’ll just put this book down after first chapter, which portends more of the same.)

Each pair of chapters centers, like an episode, on one of the women who might be the mother of Damian Baxter’s love
...more
Hazel
Sep 26, 2010 Hazel rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary-fiction
I'm going to give this two stars, because of its ambition. But I don't like it. Fellowes is trying to address larger themes: the passage of time and its effects, on individuals and on a particular class, the English aristocracy and upper class. His discourses on politics and social change from the 1960s could have appeared in any of our broadsheets. His is, reputedly, an insider's view, so his descriptions of the debutante balls and changing social mores are probably accurate. Many of the incide ...more
Dunja
Jan 21, 2013 Dunja rated it really liked it
i finally got my hands on the book that i've been waiting for some time to be published in my country. 'past imperfect' by julian fellowes is one of the books that every vorshiper of british culture should read, especially if you're familiar with and like his other work too. he portraits a group of londoners connected with friendship and love affairs in the sixties and their lives today, forty years later when they've all gone separate ways. the way he describes the era where aristocratic way of ...more
Arabella
Mar 15, 2010 Arabella rated it liked it
I'm not sure how readers who hadn't grown up in England would find this book - it's extremely English and I'm sure many of the class nuances might go over the heads of readers from other backgrounds. It does throw an interesting light on the changes to England's class society during the decades immediately following the second world war, and how centuries-long traditions among the nobility were forced to reshape themselves to fit with new societal norms or die. But for non-English who are intere ...more
Biogeek
Jan 15, 2012 Biogeek rated it liked it
A thoroughly readable romp through the British aristocracy at the end of the 20th Century. Fellowes manages to show the demise of the ruling classes without getting overly nostalgic or extra-judgmental.He manages to always maintain a certain affection for the characters, even as he skewers them for their vanity and hollowness at times.

The plot itself is a well-developed mystery as well written as Fellowes' better-known Gosford Park. The mystery is not so much a "whodunnit" as a "who-was-done-by
...more
Ann Clay
Feb 20, 2013 Ann Clay rated it really liked it
Interesting premise. I had no idea who the mother was until about the last fifty pages, and then it seemed so obvious. It makes no sense whatever that Damian didn't recognize the woman's handwriting.

Also the 'big deal in Portugal' that was so horrifying to the narrator was really disappointing. I had a hard time understanding why the incident would have kept this man away from good friends for 40 years. I've had worse things happen to me and got over them more quickly.

That being said, I really e
...more
Teri
Jun 28, 2011 Teri rated it liked it
I read this because Fellowes is one of the writers for Downton Abbey, which I enjoyed so much watching on Masterpiece Theater. And I liked his earlier novel, Snobs. This one was a bit tedious however. The narrator has been asked to fulfill a deathbed wish: His college semi-friend has asked him to find a son he believes he had fathered years ago. He gives the narrator the names of about 5 women, and the narrator proceeds to find them and see what their lives are like. Throughout the search, he re ...more
Lightblue
Ho voluto leggere questo libro perchè mi piace Fellowes come sceneggiatore di Downton Abbey. Ed effettivamente il libro rispecchia la stessa atmosfera un po' da soap opera in salsa British. Quello che manca in questo libro è però la stessa capacità del serial di tenere alta l'attenzione e di appassionarsi ai personaggi. Per quanto abbia apprezzato la psicologia del protagonista, che vive nel ricordo di un fatto avvenuto anni prima, (fatto che di per sè non trovo poi così grave come lui vuol farc ...more
Cara
I really wanted to love this book. Julian Fellowes appears to be the man of the moment after the recent success of Downton Abbey(which was amazing), but...

For me it was too long a wild goose chase leading up to 'the incident', which wasn't such a big deal in my opinion. Maybe I'm missing the significance of the time & the subtle manners and rules that society was only just breaking free from. It did pick up a pace towards the end, maybe that was in part due to the fact that a man's life was
...more
Jane
Mar 23, 2009 Jane rated it it was ok
Julian Fellows is obsessed with the ways of the snobbish aristocracy and his first book Snobs took a humerous look how hard it is hard for the parvenue to break into the British upper class no matter how much money they have. In this book his obsession continues through the eyes of the narrator who spends a lot of the time bemoaning the fact that the good old days of the true aristocracy are gone and that the real moneyed who tend to ape the ways of the old aristocracy just don't have that inbre ...more
Cat
Apr 04, 2013 Cat rated it liked it
Strangely depressing, not least for the fact that I realized, only after I was about 20% through it, that I had read it before. Not sure how I forgot so much of it, although given the rating I gave it I suppose its fairly clear:).

I found the structure of the story interesting, building the anticipation as to what had happened in Portugal and who was the mystery woman, cutting between past and present etc. However, I found the overall tone of the story depressing, nobody seemed to live the life t
...more
Gregory S.
Nov 13, 2011 Gregory S. rated it really liked it
This an awfully mannered novel, which is something I normally dislike. But because the subject here is the British upper classes during a period when social class was still important but crumbling, the mannered tone works.

It's overdone, of course, but it's overdone in a charming way. Character not only speak in complete sentences, but often in epigrams. They say the things we wished we were clever and witty enough to say, and make the social observations we wish we were clever and...you get the
...more
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8759
Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes (Baron Fellowes of West Stafford), DL. English actor, novelist, screenwriter, and director.

Fellowes is the youngest son of Peregrine Fellowes (a diplomat and Arabist who campaigned to have Haile Selassie restored to his throne during World War II). Julian inherited the title of Lord of the Manor of Tattershall from his father, making him the fourth Fellowes to h
...more
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