To be honest I'm not a huge Julian Fellowes fan generally. Have never really taken to Downton Abbey, although I rather enjoyed the Oscar winning Gosford Park. Past Imperfect had received good reviews though, and with some reviewers likening it to Evelyn Waugh, it sounded just my sort of thing, but this sterile tale of toffs is just supremely irritating.
Two old friends are reunited when Damian, owner of a vast fortune and childless, is dying and wants his old pal to find the child that he had fathered illegitimately 40 years before. Unfortunately, except for knowing that the child exists, he is remarkably unaware either of the sex of the child or who the mother might have been. Old pal then revisits many of the friends of his youth in order to track down Damian's heir.
It sounds ghastly? Yup, it is. It resembles Evelyn Waugh in that it's about snobs, but it's completely lacking Waugh's blackly satirical edge. We're meant to feel sorry for these characters. Why? Most of them are horrible - if you met them at a party you would want to run at an Olympic winning pace in the opposite direction. There are long digressions into the stately homes of England and the sorry plight of their owners - I wanted to scream, these people are NOT poor, not in any meaningful sense of the word. They may have to live in the dower house, but they're hardly on the breadline.
And the whole morality of the novel is screwy. After being told how young and innocent the debutantes and their beaux of the 1960s were, we are then supposed to believe that young Damian potentially impregnated so many women that even Casanova would have been envious. And none of this closed social circle was at all aware that he was sleeping with anyone else. Oh please. Either the reader was fed false information initially or the characters are even stupider than they appear to be. Please don't read this rotten book, you could be doing something much more interesting like growing tomatoes, or training a dog, or watching paint dry....