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Past Imperfect    by Julian Fellowes order for
Past Imperfect
by Julian Fellowes
Order:  USA  Can
Griffin, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

The London Season is the time of year when the social elite hold debutante balls, dinner parties, and charity events, to present eligible young women to society. All the young women have hopes of finding a wealthy, titled husband for themselves. In 1968, with a poor economy and the country in a social decline, the era is gradually coming to a close. The scale of tradition has been cut back, but young people are still attending parties.

Damian Baxter, fresh out of Cambridge, is one of the young men enjoying himself, along with his circle of friends. Damian is handsome, and although he is not from nobility or wealthy, he has the charm to act as if he is one of the privileged and to be accepted by his peers. Damian does not want a titled wife or wealth, but wants to witness the experiences played out around him. He wants to live in the future, not the past.

Now forty years later, Damian is a rich man, alone in Surrey. He is dying. After receiving a letter from a former lover, he learns that he fathered a child back in his younger years. Damian wants to find his offspring, so he can leave his fortune to his heir. Married once while in his thirties, he had no children after being left sterile by a case of the mumps. Damian had his share of affairs, and now one of the women is claiming to be the mother of his child. The only problem is, the letter was not signed.

Damian has called upon a friend from happier times to find his heir, but years ago they had a disagreement and have not seen each other since. Out of curiosity, and also loathing for Damian, the gentleman agrees to his request, but by doing so he must also return to his own past and compare that to what he has now. Damian's list consists of five women, all of whom have children of the right age, and the gentleman finds himself subjected to their silliness and vanity. All are more than happy to discuss the affairs that they had with Damian. As the women tell their story, secrets from the past and present are revealed. We are taken back in time to a swinging London and its high society.

Past Imperfect is told with humour, and reads like a diary of other people's lives. Although endings cannot always be happy, it provides answers and closure.

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