I was curious about this novel because I *adored* Gosford Park, for which Fellowes won a Best Screenplay Oscar. There are certainly similarities between his screenplay and his first novel: the marriage "business", the struggle between middle-class and upper-class, and thoroughly dislikable characters generally. I really hated all the main players here but I think that was kind of the point! The narrative is not dissimilar to Fitzgerald's Gatsby, whereby Daisy and Gatsby's affair is filtered through the narrative of Nick, the dialogue is snappy (but does not deserve the raving comparison to Evelyn Waugh plastered over the front jacket) and Fellowes is an undeniably sharp social observer (but, once again, undeserving of the comparison to Jane Austen... but in the end there was something about this novel that left me cold. The writing is pompous to the point where it becomes tiring and the tone seems to be along the lines of "Now listen here, my dear bourgeois reader..."
Also, Fellowes still has a lot to learn from Evelyn Waugh about plot structure and keeping a rambling narrative under control: both Gosford Park and Snobs are too damn long for what they are trying to say. Or, as Roger De Bris might say keep it light, keep it bright, keep it gay... and keep it short too! And in terms of jolly hockysticks satire, the ending was very unsatisfactory - but I wouldn't dream of wrecking it if you want to pick it up!
I also tried to read Cause Celeb by Helen Fielding. If you think about it, it seems quite relevant... our current obsession with Angelina Jolie, Warren Buffett chucking away 85% of his fortune this week, and Live 8 and Bono. I only read a few chapters and gave up because it was too much like Bridget Jones' diaries - the irritating characters, the 'fuck, shit' dialogue etc. Bridget Jones is better, IMHO... although it doesn't count for much because I have no intention of finishing this book.