Written by Julian Fellowes
Review by Cynthia Slocum

When Anne Trenchard, wife of a successful businessman, reveals a long-guarded secret to haughty and scornful Lady Brockenhurst, a chain of events ensues that will forever alter the lives of three families and rain consequences upon a pair of devious servants in the process. Set in 1840s London, this book takes its title from the new upper-crust district where the action occurs, an area which James Trenchard, a man of humble origins and improbable social aspirations, had a hand in developing. Some less respectable venues feature in the clandestine comings and goings of a few characters.

Perceptive, well-crafted scenes portray conflict and resentments simmering beneath the polite decorum and cool calculation exercised in Belgravia’s grand halls, drawing rooms, and boudoirs. At first glance the characters might resemble familiar social class types of the era, but they are endowed with individuality and emotional complexity that render them engaging. Each one stands to gain or lose something. Uncertainty and tension abound. As questions about the major revelation filter through the minds of various people, the narrative risks becoming repetitious; however, deft plot twists and pacing counteract this and keep the reader guessing which direction things will take. With key characters shifting their perspectives and the playing cards of high society having been reshuffled, the story achieves a satisfying conclusion.