21/04/2016

JULIAN FELLOWES' BELGRAVIA PROGRESSIVE BLOG TOUR - RECAP & REVIEW OF EPISODE 3: FAMILY TIES + GIVEAWAY!


Released in 11 weekly installments, each episode of Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia will conclude with twists, turns and cliff-hanger endings popularized by the novels of Dickens, Gaskell and Conan Doyle in the nineteenth century. Delivered directly to your cell phone, tablet or desktop via a brand new app, you can read the text or listen to the audio recording narrated by acclaimed British actress Juliet Stevenson, or jump between the two. In addition, you will have access to the exclusive bonus features available only through the app including: history, fashion, food & drink, culture and more that will frame the story while immersing you into the character’s sphere.

Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia is  the story of a secret. A secret that unravels behind the porticoed doors of London's grandest postcode. Set in the 1840s when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche, Belgravia is people by a rich cast of characters. But the story begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. At the Duchess of Richmond's new legendary ball, one family's life will change forever.

I’m really honoured to be part of this progressive tour promoting Fellowes’ Belgravia project. I loved Downton Abbey and have been missing all the beautiful characters in it since it ended with the last Christmas special on 26th December 2015. Reading Belgravia is something  new and different , of course, but it is a way to experience similar emotions.  Join us in this awesome tour, discover more about the story and the characters in Belgravia, leave your comments to enter the grand giveaway contest.


PREVIOUSLY IN BELGRAVIA ...

... we saw young Sophia Trenchard woken up from a beautiful reverie into a cruel world in 1815.  She is the daughter of James Trenchard, known as the Magician as the Duke of Wellington’s main supplier. She is 18,  happy, in love with and apparently requited by Lord Edmund Bellasis, the son of an Earl. As Sophia’s mother, Anna Trenchard, fears and history claims, tragedy ensues. While Sophia and Lord Bellasis publicly show their bond dancing and spending time together at Lady Richmond’s Ball, merriment is interrupted by news of war. All the officers present, Lord Bellasis included, must leave immediately.  The losses on Waterloo battlefield are many and Lord Bellasis’ name is on the dead list. (Episode one).

Lady Brockenhurst and Mrs Trenchard meet at a tea party  in London in 1841
A time shift and, in episode 2, the reader meets Anne Trenchard, Sophia’s mother,  in 1841, meeting Lady Richmond, now Dowager Duchess of Richmond, after about 30 years since the infamous ball. They meet in London, at the Duchess of Bedford’s tea party. On the same occasion, Mrs Trenchard makes the acquaintance of Countess Brokenhurst, Lord Bellasis’s mother. That’s when the reader discovers her daughter Sophia died too, not long after the infamous ball. She died in childbirth.  Her pregnancy was the result of Lord Bellasis tricking her into a false marriage in order to bed her. The son she bore, Charles, is the last link to Lady Brockenhurst’s beloved dead son. And now, Mrs Trenchard wants to share their secret with Lord Bellasis’s mother: they have a grandson, Charles. The revelation brings about disastrous results  (Episode two)



Episode 3.  Family Ties
MY RECAP 

The scene opens at Lymington Park, not the oldest seat of the Bellasis dynasty but unquestionably the grandest,  where Lady Caroline Brockenhurst lives with her husband, Peregrine Bellasis, fifth earl of Brockenhurst.

She is haunted by Mrs Trenchard’s revelation about her own son having seduced and tricked young Sophia Trenchard! Lady Brockenhurst simply can’t believe that vulgar wife of a merchant’s version of the facts: her dear son Edmund, who died a young officer at Waterloo, had been certainly attracted to beautiful Sophia Trenchard, but couldn’t have tricked her into a false marriage just to bed her. That is the part of Mrs Trenchard’s account she refuses to accept.


"But this morning Caroline felt different. She looked around the room, which was lined in pale green striped silk, with a tall gilt-looking glass above the chimeypiece and a set of engravings on the walls, wondering quite what was making her feel unlike her usual self."

Suddenly she realizes she feels unexpectedly happy. She’s happy to think her child has left a son. She only knows that the boy has been brought up by a clergyman, a nobleman, in a respectable house and imagines he would favour his father, not his mother, with a bit of luck.  Now she's torn between wish and duty: she gave her words not to reveal anything to anyone. She doesn’t want to turn herself into a liar, but she wants to know more of her grandson, so she must find a different path through the maze.

When she happens to meet Mrs Trenchard again at Kew Gardens, she insists on getting more details about their grandson, Mr Charles Pope. Mrs Trenchard reveals her more: he is the adapted son of Reverend Benjamin Pope, who adopted the boy and brought him up in Surrey. No doubt it doesn’t take long for Caroline Brockenhurst to track down Charles Pope. She has many friends and relations among the clergy and soon discovers the young man is making a name for himself, is ambitious and has plans. He bought a mill in Manchester and he needs funds for his enterprise.


Mrs Trenchard and Lady Brockenhurst meet by chance at Kew Gardens - Image: Antique Art Print, 1859


She makes an appointment on the spur of the moment on the pretext of investing in Mr Charles Pope's venture. Confiding in her own self - control, she didn’t think through the details nor rehearsed what she meant to say but once she enters his office, the grand lady is caught by surprise: she didn't foresee  her reaction at meeting the young man.

“For a moment Caroline couldn’t move.  She stood staring at his face: his darl curls, his blue eyes,  his fine nose, his chiseled mouth. It was the face of her son, Edmund reborn, more humorous perhaps, heartier certainly, but her own darling Edmund.”

She can’t help herself now: not only does she propose him to invest her money in his enterprise, but she also invites him to one of her At Home on Thursdays.  Charles Pope is confused, puzzled, but he accepts, of course. He can’t believe his luck!

Mrs Trenchard is also quite surprised when she receives a card inviting Mr. and Mrs Trenchard to a soirée given by  the Countess of Brockenhurst. She can't really understand why the snobbing lady now wants her and her husband to join her company and, above all, she doesn't trust the woman now that she knows more of their secret. But Susan, Mrs Trenchard's daughter-in-law, her son’s Oliver’s wife, is so eager to go and insists it would be great for her and Oliver to be there. 
Unwillingly, just to please her daughter-in-law, Mrs Trenchard writes to Lady Brockenhurst to accept the invitation and asks if her husband and she can bring their son and his wife with them.  When Mrs Trenchard receives Lady Caroline’s envelope containing an invitation card for Oliver and Susan as well as a note saying “I have also invited Mr Charles Pope to join us”, she is utterly shuttered and drops the letter on the floor. 

These are the main events in episode 3, but in it we are also made acquainted of the unpleasant habit of Lord Brockenhurst’s  younger brother, Steven Bellasis, a country vicar: from time to time he happens to visit his elder brother and his wife at Lymington Park with his own  wife Grace and their spoilt son, John,   in order to ask for what they call “loans on their inheritance”. In fact, since Lord Peregrine Bellasis and Lady Caroline’s only heir, Edmund, died  in 1815 they have become  the heirs would-be to the Bellasis’ patrimony and title. This is something both Lord and Lady Brockenhurst can’t bear. And this is also one the reasons why Lady Caroline made up her mind to meet her grandson, Charles Pope.    


"The title, the estates, the London house, everything else, would still be John's, but Edmund had left a son, and might they not come to know this man? Might they not find him and help him? After all they would not be the first noble family with a love child."


Lord Brockenhurst often receives unexpected, and unwanted, visits from his relatives in search for money
 - Image:  The Dinner Party, Sir Herny Cole, 1808-1882
                                 
MY MUSINGS 

I am really fond of Julian Fellowes ‘s serialised Victorian tale so far. Have you been reading the episodes? Have you downloaded them and the app in your devices? I think you really must if you love reading good historical fiction set in the 18th century, if you appreciated Downton Abbey and if you are in for a very new,  singular adventure. Furthermore, I recommend you to follow the several stops of our progressive blog tour (see below this post) if you want to win your own printed copy of Belgravia.

Now, let’s see what I can tell you to share some of my enthusiasm. First of all,  Belgravia is page turner, with a fast paced narration supported by a vivid cinematicstyle. While reading you just visualize the scenes and  the facial expressions in your mind thanks to Fellowes’s mastery at characterization and description, and you also feel like you are actually listening to the verbal exchanges in the dialogues. (N.B. You can actually listen, if you download the app and the episode, since you get the audio version of the text)

I’ve particularly liked the two main female characters, Mrs Anne Trenchard and Lady Caroline Brockenhurst  in these first episodes. They are apparently rivals and distant, but they are clearly so similar and so close in their sorrow and in their hopes.

We’ve just met Charles Pope, the young male protagonist, and I’m already extremely curious to discover more about him. A tall, dark, blue-eyed, enterprising 18th century mill-owner is the type of literary hero  with a certain draw on me.

Finally, we’ve had only glimpses of the downstair so far, but I expect more and better for those characters from the creator of Downton Abbey.

Questions for discussion

1. I find Lady Brockenhurst and Mrs Trenchard are different, yet they share so much. What do you expect from their relationship?
2. Younger Mr Bellasis, Steven, and his son John are openly asking for money from Peregrine Bellasis, Lord Brockenhurst.  They sistematically squander the  money they get and show no respect for their relatives. They are everything but noble, elegant or  charming.  Do they remind you of any unpleasant characters you've met before?
3. In episode 3 we meet Charles Pope for the first time: he is in his office and is described as handsome, enterprising, amiable. He is introduced as a promising young hero. What do you foresee for him? What will his reaction be if/when he discovers about his origins? 

AUTHOR BIO

Julian Fellowes, creator of Dowton Abbey and author of Belgravia

Educated at Ampleforth and Magdalene College, Cambridge, Julian Fellowes is a multi-award-winning actor, writer, director and producer. As creator, sole writer, and executive producer of the hit television series Downton Abbey, Fellowes has won three Emmy awards.

Fellowes received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Gosford Park (2002). His work was also honored by the Writer's Guild of America, The New York Film Critics' Circle and the National Society of Film Critics for Best Screenplay. Other writing credits for film include Piccadilly Jim (2004), Vanity Fair (2004), Young Victoria (2009), The Tourist (2010), Romeo & Juliet (2013), and the upcoming three-part drama Doctor Thorne for ITV. Fellowes also directed the award-winning films Separate Lies and From Time To Time. Fellowes wrote the books for the Tony-nominated stage production of Mary Poppins and School Of Rock – The Musical which opened on Broadway in December 2015, and is written and produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Fellowes has authored two novels: the international bestsellers Snobs (2005) and Past Imperfect (2008/2009).

Julian Fellowes became a life peer in 2010. He lives in Dorset and London with his wife, Emma.

PROGESSIVE BLOG TOUR 
  
Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia is being featured in a progressive blog tour April 14-June 16, 2016. Similar to a “progressive dinner party,” where a group of friends each make one course of a meal that moves from house to house with each course, a “progressive blog tour” is the same concept applied to the Internet. Eleven historical fiction bloggers and authors are participating, each taking one episode of the novel and offering a recap and review for that week. As a participant, you will follow the tour and join in the read-along and conversation. A fabulous give-away contest, including three (3) hardcover copies of Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia will be open to those who join the festivities.  

BELGRAVIA PROGRESSIVE BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE 



Giveaway Contest

Win a Copy of Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia




In celebration of the release of Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia, Grand Central Publishing is offering a chance to win one of the three (3) hardcover copies of the book!  

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the stops on the Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia Progressive Blog Tour starting April 14, 2016 through 11:59 pm PT, June 22, 2016. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Austenprose.com June 23, 2016. Winners have until June 30, 2016 to claim their prize. The contest is open to International residents and the books will be shipped after July 5, 2016. Good luck to all!



Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Goodreads


Episode 4. At Home in Belgrave Square will be recapped at  The Calico Critic on April 21



THE FREE APP

The free app was launched via the Belgravia website on April 14, 2016 and is also available via Googleplay and iTunes. The first episode, “Dancing into Battle” is free to download. You can subscribe to the full 11 - episode weekly serial for £9.99 / US$13.99 (both text and audio) or purchase individual weekly episodes for £1.49 / US$1.99 which will be delivered automatically to your device the moment they air every Thursday.



14 comments:

Evangeline Holland said...

I am so pleased with the twists and turns in this serial! Yes, it mines familiar territory, but Fellowes has such wit and grace that it feels fresh. Can't wait to read what happens next!

Laurel Ann (Austenprose) said...

I like how the characters and story is building. This is pure Fellowes. I can visualize the characters during the dialogue. Thanks for the great recap Maria. Beautiful presentation.

Barbara Khan said...

This looks awesome, I'd love to win. I love books from that era.

dstoutholcomb said...

Julian Fellowes does weave wonderful stories

denise

dstoutholcomb said...

wonderful prize!

denise

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Maria, I am so enjoying this! Such a fun way to fight Downton Abbey withdrawal!

Caryl Kane said...

I am so excited about this book! Thank you for being part of the tour.

Tinkerbellee said...

I find myself looking MUCH more forward to Thursdays than I had expected

Susan Heim said...

I was so sad to see Downton Abbey end, so I’m excited that Julian Fellowes continues to give us more great stories. I can’t wait to read this book!

Kimberly V said...

This sounds like a very good book.

Kimberly Linscott said...

Wow! Something new to fill the Downton Abbey hole.

Monica said...

I would love to read this book!

Anonymous said...

Didn't know about this. Thanks for the info as usual. Hopefully it's as good as Downton. Is it going to be adapted for the small or big screen? Ciao. Antonella

Maria Grazia said...

Dear Antonella, no news about a possible adaptation, but that would be great, wouldn't it? We all suffer from withdrawal symptoms after Downton Abbey ended. For now, Belgravia has been published online in installments and will be released as a book.