“‘Nonsense,’ said Maria. ‘All the world knows it is better to be gullible than suspicious.’ And with that she tilted her face up toward his, and he had the great pleasure of planting a kiss on her lips. They did not know it then, but he would love her with the same passion until he died. Which is quite enough to make a happy ending.”
Set in the 1840s England, Julian Fellowes weaves a tale in Belgravia where secrets and lies tie the lives of two families together. Young Sophia Trenchard falls in love with a man above her station Lord Edmund Bellasis. Both families attend the infamous ball held by the Duke of Wellington – infamous due to men being called to the Battle of Waterloo before the ball is over. Edmund Bellasis joins the men to fight and does not return. Sophia is heartbroken and eventually goes off into the country and dies at a young age.
As soon as I heard about the Downtown Abbey writer and producer had written a book, I added it to my to-read list and immediately put a hold on it with my library for the ebook. I waited a very, very long time, but I was sure the wait would be worth it.
Eventually, the Bellasis family and the Trenchards end up living within walking distance of each other and Mrs. Trenchard finds herself at a tea with Mrs. Bellasis. Trenchard finds out the Bellasis family has run out of heirs and the family estate will go to a nephew who doesn’t see the value in work. Trenchard decides the time has come to share her secret with Mrs. Bellasis against her husband’s wishes, only to find her husband has been carrying a bigger secret.
I can’t give too many more details away because there are many twists and turns. It takes a little while to keep all the characters straight, but there is a Web site that lays the entire family trees out (www.julianfellowesbelgravia.com). I enjoyed reading this book, but I could see very easily how it could turn into a movie or TV show, which is probably how Fellowes thinks when he creates stories. Anyone who loved Downtown Abbey would enjoy this book. I would recommend it as a book club book, too.