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Publisher's Summary

Damian Baxter is very, very rich - and he's dying. He lives alone in a big house in Surrey, looked after by a chauffeur, butler, cook and housemaid. He has but one concern: who should inherit his fortune.... 

Past Imperfect is the story of a quest. Damian Barker wishes to know if he has a living heir. By the time he married in his late 30s he was sterile (the result of adult mumps), but what about before that unfortunate illness? He was not a virgin. Had he sired a child? A letter from a girlfriend from these times suggests he did. But the letter is anonymous.

Damian contacts someone he knew from their days at university. He gives him a list of girls he slept with and sets him a task: find his heir.... 

©2008 Julian Fellowes (P)2020 Orion Publishing Group

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-07-22

It’s the atmosphere not the story that keeps you listening.

Very much like Julian Fellowes other work (Downton Abbey or Gosford Park) this novel is more about visiting another world in time rather than a gripping plot.
The story is really just a MacGuffin to propel the narrator back to his memories at various stages of the dying days of the London Debutant season. And for that it is so good.
These aren’t loveable characters or thrilling mysteries but they do open up a world that it interesting and rich in its detail. No piece of furniture or carpet goes unnoticed, the sympathy for sad characters is touching.
I have no idea if it is an accurate portrayal of the time and situation but you could hazard a guess that Julian Fellowes, being who he is, might have more experience than most of that world. I enjoyed it when I read it years ago and I really liked this narrator. I’ll listen to it again and would recommend it. It won’t be for everyone but if you like the idea of glimpsing that period of time for the upper classes in England then you might enjoy this.

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  • Serenambw
  • 03-23-22

Insightful, but a book about unhappy people

I rarely write a review. I bought the book on a whim, because I have enjoyed the author's historical/period novels/drama. There are all manner of observations and insights that I'd not have had access to otherwise. I could really feel the experience of some of my wider family from a-not-quite-so-well-heeled background on the fringes of the society set.

He's brutally honest about the practicalities of seeking status or marrying for status (in the late 60's/70s) and the lives that followed. Those life options that were open to those with background or money.

Cleverly used language, skilfully observed writing. A highly polished narrator who is absolutely in character. Insightful. But not all together enjoyable.

The novel is about a late-middle-aged author who relives and rediscovers his loves and losses from his youth. He revisits a lot of unhappy people who have spent their lives being made unhappy or making others unhappy.

I also actually learned a bit more about Mr Fellowes' inner life than I really wanted (one scene that I fast-forwarded entirely).

For me, the book, unfortunately, didn't spark joy.

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  • Di
  • 08-29-21

Another world

I’ve thought of this book as a sort of archive of another time. It was interesting if I thought of it that way. I have to say the story didn’t completely hold me as Belgravia did. But having listened to so much I did want to get to the big reveal. I was pleased I kept with it eventually.

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  • Patricia Wilson
  • 06-29-20

loved this 👍

great story and brought to life by Richard, an awesome reader. A story for anytime.