Thu
May 19 2016 4:30pm

Things Get Complicated: Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia Episode 5 (Chapter 4) Through Episode 7 (Chapter 6) Binge Read

Belgravia, Episode 5 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 we've met the Trenchard and Brockenhurst families in the Prologue (Episode 1) &  Chapter 1 (Episode 2), gotten into quite a predicament in Chapter 2 (Episode 3), and stayed “at home” in Chapter 3 (Episode 4). And now we're onto our binge-reading recap of Episodes 5-7. 

Things are getting complicated in Belgravia. When we last visited the Trenchard and Brockenhurst families, we finally met Charles Pope, the grandson of Anne and James Trenchard and Caroline and Peregrine Bellasis, the Countess and Earl of Brockenhurst, at a soiree in Belgravia. The mysterious Mr. Pope piqued everyone’s interest, especially the Reverend Bellasis and his son John, the heirs to the Brockenhurst fortune. Everyone wanted to know why the Countess had taken an interest in the affable young man. Of course, poor Charles is completely in the dark as well. All he knows is that the Countess has agreed to support his business ventures. The only people aware of the secret behind the charade are Anne, James, and Caroline, all of whom are playing a dangerous game with the young man and the Trenchard reputation in society. We also met Lady Maria Grey, John Bellasis’ intended, who was clearly taken with Mr. Pope. Now, we are smack in the middle of various plots and intrigues, all of which are probably going to lead to a big reveal of Charles’ identity.

First, it seems that Stephen Bellasis, in addition to being a bitter second son, is also a terrible gambler. I don’t mean that he gambles too much (which he does), but that he is really bad at it and constantly loses whatever little money he has, forcing him to keep asking his rich brother for more funds. He is so bad, in fact, that he gets himself into some serious trouble with a loan shark and gets himself beaten up. This obviously doesn’t look good for a Bellasis, even if he is just the second son. We find out that his situation is quite dire and that his household survives with a skeletal staff and a wife who is not especially demanding as far as jewelry, clothes, and a social life are concerned. Any way, he goes to Peregrine and asks for the 1,000 pounds he owes the loan shark only to be rejected by his brother. Furious, he’s storming out of the house when he sees Charles Pope in with the Countess, which again raises a red flag: who is this Pope character and why is Caroline so interested in him all of a sudden?

In the meantime, his son John is busy indulging in one of his favorite hobbies: seducing young married women and gleaning useful information about their husband. This time, his “victim” is Susan Trenchard, the lonely, bored, and ambitious wife of the resentful and somewhat spoiled Oliver Trenchard. The catch here is that John thinks Susan is just another empty-headed society woman, but she is a lot shrewder than that.  While he’s trying to get her to give him information about Charles (information that she doesn’t have), she’s planning on using their connection to climb the social ranks, and maybe even ditch her dud of a husband.

Ultimately, John figures out that Susan is really only good for one thing and decides to bribe Anne’s maid to get the information he needs. And finally we get a glimpse of the machinations downstairs. It turns out that most of the Trenchard household staff resents being in service to some lowly merchants and Anne’s maid, Miss Ellis, is definitely not as loyal as you would expect her to be. At any rate, John is able to bribe her into gathering some intel on Charles, having suspected that there is some sort of connection between the young man and the Trenchards.

Meanwhile, Charles is pining for Maria. And, look! Just as he’s leaving the Brockenhursts, he runs into her and they end up having a fantastic conversation, all about his business interests and the expansion he’s planning by importing cotton from India, all of which would necessitate his traveling there personally, and oh goodness! She loves to travel, too, and wouldn’t it be great, etc. etc. Clearly, the two of them have common interests and the chemistry between them is undeniable. But, alas, she is engaged to John Bellasis and there’s nothing they can do about that. A forlorn Charles leaves with a heavy heart just as Maria promises to stop by his offices for a visit, accompanied by the Countess, of course.

Belgravia, Episode 7 by Julian Fellowes

Okay, so basically, we have Stephen and John Bellasis trying to figure out who Charles Pope is and why Caroline is so incredibly interested in helping him, James and Anne Trenchard are living every day worried that their secret will out and their reputation ruined, Susan Trenchard is plotting some sort of maneuver to raise her social cred, and poor Charles has fallen in love with John Bellasis’ fiancé. It’s quite a mess, frankly, with the main hero of the story not being aware of exactly how much trouble he is causing just by, you know, existing.

In the meantime, James hasn’t stopped his attempts at raising his social cred and is desperately hoping to be asked to join the exclusive (if somewhat less fashionable) Athenaeum club. His partner William Cubitt has sponsored him and James feels that once he has his membership, he can officially belong to the “Great World.” Of course, his membership is accepted, and guess who he invites for his very first luncheon? None other than Charles Pope! Other than committing a faux pas by not having his first lunch with his sponsor, the event really upsets Oliver who feels that his father doesn’t respect him. So now, one more person is both wary of and curious about Charles Pope.

Back at the Trenchard house, Anne can no longer stand being a pawn in Caroline’s games, so she decides to go over to the Brockenhursts and have it out with the Countess. She walks in on Caroline and Maria having a visit, one thing leads to another, and they all decide to go visit Charles at his office. Meanwhile, Ellis, under some pretense of wanting to learn about the latest hairstyles, visits Caroline’s maid, a Miss Dawson, and tries to find out about the relationship with Charles. Sadly for Ellis, Dawson is loyal to her mistress and won’t divulge anything. So, a few days later, the ladies set out to visit Charles in Bishopsgate, not quite the kind of neighborhood that the Countess or Maria are used to. Charles, taken by surprise, can’t hide his joy at seeing Maria, and of course both the Countess and Anne pick up on the tension between the two. They’re enjoying their visit when in walks John Bellasis. You see, that was the only piece of information he could get from Ellis: that the ladies were planning on visiting Charles Pope on this day and at this time. He basically shows up to figure out why his aunt and Mrs. Trenchard are doting on the man, and is genuinely surprised to see Maria there. He picks up on some sort of something between Maria and Charles as well and basically is rather rude to Charles. At any rate, they all leave with John still at a loss as to why Charles is occupying such a prominent role in everyone’s life.

Meanwhile Maria starts dropping hints to her mother, Lady Templemore, that she might be thinking of breaking her engagement to John. Yes, she purposely puts it out there as vaguely as possible, first, because she has no reassurances from Charles, and second, because they are destitute and her giving up marriage to the heir to the Brockenhurst fortune would not go over well with her mother. And of course, she’s right: her mother is furious with her even hinting at the possibility of ending the engagement. This doesn’t deter Maria, however, and she arranges to meet with Charles privately in Kensington Gardens. She manages to evade her maid and run up to Charles at the Round Pond and they end up confessing their love for each other, and the numerous obstacles standing in the way or their getting together. Aside from the obvious problem of Maria’s engagement, Charles is worried that his not being of the same social rank would automatically remove him from a list of possible suitor for Maria’s hand. Maria, who has been waiting for just such an admittance (that Charles is, in fact, a suitor for her hand if the circumstances were different), assures him that she cares for him and that the difference in rank doesn’t matter to her. As they are ready to actually say the words, Maria’s mother appears and Charles leaves.

So, this is what’s been happening the past couple of weeks. Frankly, I’m still a bit confused why Caroline assumes that just because Charles resembles Edmund, society is going to “guess” that they are related. I mean, that’s really not much to go on. We’ll have to wait and see. As far as the other characters, to be honest, I’m not that invested in any of them right now. I do want Maria to leave John only because he is a real cad and Maria is actually quite interesting and “modern” in her views. We’re halfway through the “series” at this point, so I’m hoping that the action will pick up. In the meantime, if you’ve been reading along, share your thoughts! 

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Learn more about or order a copy of Belgravia, Episode 5 by Julian Fellowes, available now: 

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Learn more about or order a copy of Belgravia, Episode 6 by Julian Fellowes, available now: 

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Learn more about or order a copy of Belgravia, Episode 7 by Julian Fellowes, available now: 

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Or...
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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