Thu
Apr 28 2016 4:30pm

At Home: Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia, Episode 4 (Chapter 3) Recap

Belgravia, episode 4  by Julian Fellowes

Editor's Note: Julian Fellowes is taking his skills to the literary world in a new book, Belgravia, being released in individual installments, starting with the Prologue (Episode 1) &  Chapter 1 (Episode 2), Chapter 2 (Episode 3), and now moving on to Chapter 3 (Episode 4). Stay tuned for every “recap” as each “episode” is published. 

Wow! What a nail-biting episode! The story is definitely picking up speed! Last week, we paused when the Countess of Brockenhurst had invited the Trenchards for her At Home, and sent a note to Anne letting her know that their secret grandson, Charles Pope, would be attending. This week’s episode is all about that dinner party, and let me tell you, tensions were high and some new complications were introduced. So without further ado, let’s get to it.

The episode starts with Anne getting ready for the party. She’s naturally nervous and is debating on whether she should let her husband, James, know about Charles Pope’s imminent appearance. James, on the other hand, is just excited to finally be included in a party at a peer’s house. And of course, Susan and Oliver are equally elated, particularly Susan, who’s been chomping at the bit for this opportunity.

They arrive at Brockenhurst House and are immediately approached by the Countess who can’t wait for Pope to show up so she can rub it in Anne’s face. Things are a bit tense, as you can imagine. Too many people are keeping too many secrets from each other. Susan and Oliver start circulating, while the clearly nervous Anne and James wait around the entrance. The Countess of Templemore and her daughter Maria Grey are announced, and we finally get a description of the young lady John Bellasis is engaged to. Blond and beautiful, she’s captivating as she enters the room, but Anne doesn’t get the chance to pay too much attention because at that moment, the Reverend Stephen Bellasis interrupts them and immediately starts in on James, criticizing the new building frenzy that’s taken hold of London. His wife, Grace, steps in before things get too heated, and between her and Anne, they steer the conversation to other topics. Grace asks Anne about Edmund, and the infamous ball in Brussels. Stephen calms down and points to his son, John, who is across the room charming Susan Trenchard, who is drinking it all up. This is going to be important later on, so stay with me.

Any way, the party is humming along nicely when Charles Pope makes his entrance. Countess Brockenhurst brings him over, but before she can finish the introductions, Charles surprises everyone and asks James Trenchard what he’s doing there. Aha! So, it turns out that James has not only known about Charles’ whereabouts, he’s been directly responsible for setting up the mill and making sure Charles has a stable business operation. Feeling hurt and betrayed, Anne keeps herself in check and asks James to tell everyone how long he’s known Mr. Pope. There is some concocted story about how James knew Charles’ father and promised to keep an eye on the boy, etc., etc. Caroline, who is delighted with this turn of events, eventually takes Charles away and starts introducing him to everyone in the room. Her unusual interest in the young man piques everyone’s interest, but of course, no one is going to come right out and ask what’s going on. They all buy the explanation that the Brockenhursts are simply interested helping an enterprising young man succeed in business. Meanwhile, James is furious with Anne since she clearly knew that Pope would be there. The Trenchards are both hurt and disappointed in each other. But, they don’t have time to air their differences at the party since John Bellasis beelines for them to find out more about the young man his aunt is showing off.

And here’s where we find out that John Bellasis, in addition to being a total spendthrift and all-around dandy, has a nasty habit of seducing married women for amusement. Once he finds out that James knows Charles Pope, he decides to set his sights on the clearly bored and ambitious Susan Trenchard in the hopes of finding out more about the imposter in their midst.

Poor Charles is completely unaware of all the machinations, of course. He’s just as puzzled by the spurt of good fortune that has come his way and is taking it in stride. He has been raised as a gentleman and clearly has the manners and deportment to allow him to fit amongst the exalted crowd gracing the Brockenhurst dining room, but he has no real status. Deciding to take a break, he steps out into the balcony for some air, which is when, coincidentally, Maria Grey decides to take a break, too. They meet and the attraction between them is instantaneous. Maria, who is definitely engaged to John Bellasis as a mere business, turns out to be an intelligent, engaging, and witty young lady, and Charles is positively smitten. She doesn’t tell him that she’s engaged and they have a great conversation talking about his aspirations to grow his business by importing Indian cotton. She’s completely enthralled by this: it turns out that she’s always wanted to travel to India, but has never had the chance. Any way, there is a definite connection here. Yay! Here’s the complicated romance we’ve been waiting for! They talk until Maria’s mother comes out and whisks Maria away.

Back inside, the dinner starts and Caroline seats Charles next to herself, causing even more of a buzz. Stephen and John are especially interested to know what’s going on, and they start quizzing Anne, who feigns having any knowledge other than what Caroline has told everyone. It’s an awkward situation, but in the end, the truth about Charles remains a secret. She does manage to corner Caroline and have a private conversation after dinner and it turns out that while the Countess is planning on remaining true to her word and not share Charles’ parentage, she is really hoping that people would simply guess, given Mr. Pope’s uncanny resemblance to Edmund. Poor Anne is besides herself because she knows that sooner or later, the secret will come out and the Trenchards will be ruined.

The tense evening finally comes to an end and back at the Trenchard house, James lets out his fury, questioning Anne’s motives for telling Countess Brockenhurst about Charles and creating the uncomfortable (and dangerous) situation. They have a good row and go to bed angry. Meanwhile, Oliver is upset that Susan basically ignored him the entire evening and flirted with John Belassis. For her part, Susan is thrilled to have turned the head of one of the most high-ranking and eligible men in society. She’s bored with her husband, resents her life as a Trenchard, and is looking for a chance to claw her way up the social ladder. While Oliver is screaming at her, we find that she is barren, which of course, leaves having an affair with John without any unwelcome risks.

Back at the Brockenhurst home, Caroline decides against telling her husband Peregrine who Charles Pope really is. She wants to see if he can figure it out himself. While they have their post-party chat, we find that Maria Grey’s brother, Reggie, has taken over the deeply in debt Templemore estate and is doing a good job trying to salvage it.

And this is where the episode ends. I can’t wait to find out how everything turns out! Will Susan really start an affair with John? Will Maria and Charles really fall in love? And, of course, will Charles’ identity be revealed? So much to look forward to!

***

Learn more about or order a copy of Belgravia, Episode 4 by Julian Fellowes, available now: 

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Learn more about or order a hardcover copy of Belgravia by Julian Fellowes, available on July 5, 2016: 

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Naz Keynejad is an avid reader, copy/story editor, and is currently working on her Masters degree in English literature. She’s a self-professed literary nerd and has a “thing” for period dramas. She will watch anything as long as it’s filled with British accents, suppressed sexual tension, angst, and of course, period costumes.  Oh, and there has to be tea.  Lots of tea.

 

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