Snobs, by Julian Fellowes, is a story set in a world that I’ve not entered in contemporary fiction. Think the world of Jeeves and Wooster. Think the world of those people you’ve never heard of in the diary columns of Associated Newspapers’ publications. Think of the nonentities whose marriages are afforded lavage multi-page coverage in Hello magazine.
Yes it’s the world of old-money and the titled. We follow a character who one feels might be based around Fellowes himself. He’s an actor who has a haughty public school sensibility about him and feels very comfortable with the kind of person who lives in a house that others pay an entrance fee to visit. And then there’s the social climber who marries into the family for money and the title, but not love.
Things go predictably wrong, but the novel’s slight and the tragedies are not immense. Money is not an over-riding concern of anyone in this book, but status is. And without status, you are nothing.
I thought it was an honest portrayal of what must surely be practically an endangered species. I did pick up a few tips about etiquette should I ever find myself in such splendid surroundings, but otherwise, the plot doesn’t really linger. It’s light hearted fare that gives you a little taste of how the other half live. Go out into the world with your head held high, your back straight, and a solid belief in yourself. That’s what I took from this book – not that I’d paint it as a self-help manual or anything.