The Masqueraders, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Helen of She Reads Novels

The Masqueraders, originally published in 1928, is one of Georgette Heyer’s earlier novels. It’s only the second Heyer book I’ve read and I found it very different to my first, The Talisman Ring, in setting, language and plot.

Set just after the Jacobite Rising of 1745, it follows the adventures of Prudence and her brother Robin. Along with their father (referred to by his children as ‘the old gentleman’) Robin had been involved in the failed Jacobite rebellion and is now in danger of being hanged. To prevent him being captured, the brother and sister have created new roles for themselves – Robin has disguised himself as the beautiful ‘Miss Merriot’ and Prudence has become the handsome young ‘Peter’. All very Shakespearean! Not surprisingly, this leads to a number of misunderstandings and narrow escapes.

Things get even more interesting when Prudence, still posing as Peter Merriot, begins to fall in love with Sir Anthony Fanshawe – and then ‘the old gentleman’ arrives on the scene, claiming to be the lost heir to the Barham fortune.

I found the story confusing and difficult to follow at first. I spent several chapters trying to work out exactly why Prudence and Robin had found it necessary to masquerade as people of the opposite sex and what they were hoping to achieve. It also took me a while to get used to the Georgian-style dialogue, with all the egads, alacks and other slang terms of the period.

Robin made a face at his sister. “The creature must needs play the mother to me, madam.”
“Madam, behold my little mentor!” Prudence retorted. “Give you my word I have my scoldings from him, and not the old gentleman. ‘Tis a waspish tongue, egad.”

After a few chapters, however, various parts of the story started to fall into place and then I had no problem understanding what was happening. I ended up enjoying this book more than The Talisman Ring, which surprised me as a lot of people have told me that The Talisman Ring is their favourite Heyer, so I wasn’t expecting this one to be as good.

There were many things that made this book such a success for me. I thought the Georgian setting, with its powdered wigs, card games, sword fights and duels, was perfectly portrayed. The plot was full of twists and turns that kept my interest right to the end. And I loved the characters. The calm and cool-headed Prudence was the perfect balance for the more impetuous Robin – and both were fun and likeable. Watching Prudence’s relationship with Sir Anthony develop was one of my highlights of the book. Robin’s romance with Letty Grayson, who knew him only as a masked man known as the Black Domino, was equally well written.

Most of all, I loved the ‘old gentleman’. He was conceited, arrogant and a scheming rogue – but he was also hilarious and capable of coming up with such ingenious schemes that maybe his arrogance was justified.

“Have you limitations, my lord?” asked Sir Anthony.
My lord looked at him seriously. “I do not know,” he said, with a revealing simplicity. “I have never yet discovered them.”

I may have only read two of Georgette Heyer’s books so far, but I’ve enjoyed both of them – particularly this one – and can’t wait to read more of her work!

Helen is a 29 year old book lover from the North East of England. She particularly enjoys discovering 19th century classics and immersing herself in long historical fiction novels, but also reads other genres too. Her blog, She Reads Novels, is a place for her to post reviews of all the books she reads and to share her thoughts on reading in general. The title of her blog is inspired by a line from Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s 1864 classic The Doctor’s Wife – “She had read novels while other people perused the Sunday papers”. This isn’t completely true, as she does sometimes read the Sunday papers – but has to admit she would rather be reading a novel! Follow Helen on Twitter as shereadsnovels.

The Masqueraders, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2009)
Trade paperback (352) pages
ISBN: 978-1402219504

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 03 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of The Masqueraders, by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks, 2009) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about the plot or characters, or if you have read it, which is your favorite character or scene by midnight Pacific time, Monday, September 6th, 2010. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010. Shipment to continental US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 04   Aug 06 – Review: Devil’s Cub
Day 04   Aug 06 – Review: The Convenient Marriage
Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: Regency Buck
Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: The Talisman Ring

Celebrating Georgette Heyer   •   August 1st – 31st, 2010

The Masqueraders, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Helen of She Reads Novels

The Masqueraders, originally published in 1928, is one of Georgette Heyer’s earlier novels. It’s only the second Heyer book I’ve read and I found it very different to my first, The Talisman Ring, in setting, language and plot.

Set just after the Jacobite Rising of 1745, it follows the adventures of Prudence and her brother Robin. Along with their father (referred to by his children as ‘the old gentleman’) Robin had been involved in the failed Jacobite rebellion and is now in danger of being hanged. To prevent him being captured, the brother and sister have created new roles for themselves – Robin has disguised himself as the beautiful ‘Miss Merriot’ and Prudence has become the handsome young ‘Peter’. All very Shakespearean! Not surprisingly, this leads to a number of misunderstandings and narrow escapes.

Things get even more interesting when Prudence, still posing as Peter Merriot, begins to fall in love with Sir Anthony Fanshawe – and then ‘the old gentleman’ arrives on the scene, claiming to be the lost heir to the Barham fortune.

I found the story confusing and difficult to follow at first. I spent several chapters trying to work out exactly why Prudence and Robin had found it necessary to masquerade as people of the opposite sex and what they were hoping to achieve. It also took me a while to get used to the Georgian-style dialogue, with all the egads, alacks and other slang terms of the period.

Robin made a face at his sister. “The creature must needs play the mother to me, madam.”
“Madam, behold my little mentor!” Prudence retorted. “Give you my word I have my scoldings from him, and not the old gentleman. ‘Tis a waspish tongue, egad.”

After a few chapters, however, various parts of the story started to fall into place and then I had no problem understanding what was happening. I ended up enjoying this book more than The Talisman Ring, which surprised me as a lot of people have told me that The Talisman Ring is their favourite Heyer, so I wasn’t expecting this one to be as good.

There were many things that made this book such a success for me. I thought the Georgian setting, with its powdered wigs, card games, sword fights and duels, was perfectly portrayed. The plot was full of twists and turns that kept my interest right to the end. And I loved the characters. The calm and cool-headed Prudence was the perfect balance for the more impetuous Robin – and both were fun and likeable. Watching Prudence’s relationship with Sir Anthony develop was one of my highlights of the book. Robin’s romance with Letty Grayson, who knew him only as a masked man known as the Black Domino, was equally well written.

Most of all, I loved the ‘old gentleman’. He was conceited, arrogant and a scheming rogue – but he was also hilarious and capable of coming up with such ingenious schemes that maybe his arrogance was justified.

“Have you limitations, my lord?” asked Sir Anthony.
My lord looked at him seriously. “I do not know,” he said, with a revealing simplicity. “I have never yet discovered them.”

I may have only read two of Georgette Heyer’s books so far, but I’ve enjoyed both of them – particularly this one – and can’t wait to read more of her work!

Helen is a 29 year old book lover from the North East of England. She particularly enjoys discovering 19th century classics and immersing herself in long historical fiction novels, but also reads other genres too. Her blog, She Reads Novels, is a place for her to post reviews of all the books she reads and to share her thoughts on reading in general. The title of her blog is inspired by a line from Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s 1864 classic The Doctor’s Wife – “She had read novels while other people perused the Sunday papers”. This isn’t completely true, as she does sometimes read the Sunday papers – but has to admit she would rather be reading a novel!

The Masqueraders, by Georgette Heyer

Sourcebooks (2009)

Trade paperback (352) pages

ISBN: 978-1402219504

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 03 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of The Masqueraders, by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks, 2009) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about the plot or characters, or if you have read it, which is your favorite character or scene by midnight Pacific time, Friday, September 6th, 2010. Winners will be announced on Saturday, September 7th, 2010. Shipment to continental US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 04   Aug 06 – Review: Devil’s Cub

Day 04   Aug 06 – Review: The Convenient Marriage

Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: Regency Buck

Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: The Talisman Ring

Celebrating Georgette Heyer August 1 – 31, 2010

43 thoughts on “The Masqueraders, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

  1. Excellent review! The “old gentleman” sounds like a fascinating character. I can’t wait to go on a Heyer binge and read this one!

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  2. I haven’t read this one yet–though I’ve tried once and failed. I hope to have the patience next time around! It sounds like it is worth it in the end.

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  3. As did other commenters, I had trouble getting into this novel, too, and for the same reasons, but once I did, it was absolutely delightful. I got a particular kick out of “the old gentleman.” What a writer! INIMITABLE, as I said in my comment about her at the beginning of this series.

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  4. Ooo! I’d love to read this one. I’m intrigued by the time period (a littler earlier than most of Heyer’s, I think) and also by the Shakespearianesque cross-dressing duo. :)

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  5. I have never read a book by this author, but I am definitely going to fix that! This book definitely sounds interesting.

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  6. I just loved this book! Sir Anthony was my favorite character: a distinguished mountain of a man with a sharp eye and quick wit. I loved how he threw himself headlong into danger for Prue’s sake, proving himself as a man of action and not the indolent creature most people perceived him to be.

    And how could you not adore “the old gentleman”? The way he brought his schemes to a successful conclusion made at least some of his bragging justified.

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  7. The Jacobite period is a time period in which I have been interested. I am still getting events straight. It seems I need timelines and charts whenever I get involved in English/Scottish and Irish history. I am intrigued about this look at the aftermath of the Rising.

    I have noticed that when reading books trying to emulate the speech patterns of earlier times, it often takes me a while to get into the rhythm of the speech and mindset.

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

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  8. I enjoy this story from beginning to end. I am especially fond of Prudence and her Mountain, and of the old man, and somewhat less of Robin and his Letty, although they are necessary to make the entire story work.

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  9. This is a favourite of mine! Pru and Sir Anthony’s romance is one of GH’s most tender and because of the masquerade they are able to spend a lot of time alone, which is different from many of her novels. The Masqueraders is confusing on the first read, but when you know the story, it’s worth going back and re-reading the first few chapters to fully appreciate the brilliance of GH’s writing there.

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  10. I like this story, I won’t say this is one of my favorite Heyers, but I like it.

    I really enjoyed the cross-dressing aspect of it, and the confusion it caused

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  11. This is one I have not read yet, but it sounds very appealing. I’ve read a couple of other Heyer novels in which a girl masquerades as a boy with very interesting, and often humorous, consequences. This sounds like a great novel. Thanks for the giveaway.

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  12. This is one of my absolute favorite Heyer novels-my copy is on its last legs! The language and wit really come across in this book. I also think she creates an interesting window into the men’s world of the clubs, parties, and duels in eighteenth-century London as we view it through Prue’s eyes. It might look very different from a male perspective.

    Cassandra

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  13. I have not read this book. The whole Jacobite time period interests me. I enjoy the possible misunderstandings caused by the change of which person is acting as which sex. I have only read 2 of her books so far but I’d love to read more since they are so refreshing compared to some today.

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  14. Thanks for the ‘heads up’ Helen regarding the beginning chapters of confusion. It sounds like its worth the wait to stick it out. I too have heard this one is a fan favorite and your review makes me want to read it before the year is over!

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  15. I love the idea of the brother and sister switching genders to play new roles – and all of the drama that could inspire! Sounds like a good one.
    Margay

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  16. Thanks for all of the cant sites. I love learning all of the different ways of saying things. I had a friend that was reading the GH books after I was finished with them and we would trade cant comments with each other and had such fun doing that!

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  17. Pingback: ‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’ at Austenprose – August 1st – 31st, 2010 « Austenprose

  18. The old gentleman sounds like my kind of character. Great review–I didn’t realize Heyer wrote about this time period as well. What a wealth of historical detail she garnered!

    I like Shakespeare’s cross-dressing comedies, so this sounds like a fun read.

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  19. When I first read this one as a teenager, I loved Robin & Letty’s side of the story. Now that I’m an adult, I like Anthony & Pru’s more. That’s one of the things that’s so great about GH. As I go through different stages in life, I get new perspectives on them. When I first read A Civil Contract, I didn’t like it because I didn’t “see” the romance. Now that I’m older, it says something different to me, and I re-read it often. Of course, I read all of them over a lot!

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  20. I reread this today–the back cover has come off of my Fawcett edition. I shall obviously have to replace it with one of the new editions!! I wonder if this one is out yet.

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  21. This sounds like a fun read–definitely a lot of possibilities for humor in there! I’ve only read one Heyer novel (The Nonesuch) and enjoyed it. This sounds great too.

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  22. After studying in Scotland and reading Waverley, I am very interested in the setting of the Jacobite uprising. Can’t wait to read it!

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  23. It is difficult to keep up with this event. This novel is among my personal favourites, although it is not as much popular among Heyerites.

    I admit it is difficult at the beginning to understand the slang, but once once has get used to it, it is absolutely entertaining to follow all the entanglements.

    Prue and the Mammoth are also among my favourite couples, but the Old Gentleman sometimes annoys me with his excessive delight on secretiveness and intrigue.

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  24. My favourite scene is where “the old gentleman” proves his provenance (as it were). Wonderful scene! And if you do the arithmetic, btw, “the old gentleman” must be in his early 40s!!

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  25. I loved so many of the scenes in this book, but particularly the interactions between Prue and Robin. Their relationship is amusing and so is their dialogue!

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  26. Ah – one of my favorites! (As proven by the lamentable state of my copy!) It has both a witty pair of lovers and a most romantical pair of lovers – and then there’s ‘the old gentleman’. Well worth pushing through the first chapters if you find it rough going.

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  27. This is one of my favorite Heyers. The scene where Anthony let’s Prue knows that he knows is my favorite scene- sends nice shivers down my back every time i read it.

    And I loved Prue and Robin’s father. He was quite a character!

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  28. After the three Alastair novels (These Old SHades, Devil’s Cub & Infamous Army), the Masqueraders has always been my favorite. I first read this book when I was 12 or 13 years old. I devoured Heyer’s oeuvre (and John Creasey’s since it was only a few shelves away) in a week. I had no problem with the language so perhaps it was much easier for me to interpret unusual words or terms and not get distracted.

    I still reread it. I think that I was immediately charmed by Peter and completely hooked when Peter became Prue. I found Lettie quite irritating and so was glad that Robin didn’t figure prominently in the novel.

    Sir Anthony was a different type of Heyer hero since he was not the lead figure in the book – the Merriotts father grabbed and kept that role – and not the loudest either.

    No matter what your first impression is of Sir Anthony, once he unmasks Prue and his choice of words make him the most romantic figure ever. I loved the novel also because of the way Sir Anthony kept trying to protect Prue and left her the role of having to convince him she didn’t need protecting. Oh, it’s all confusion!

    I greatly enjoyed Prue’s trials and tribulations of masquerading as a man in a day when the genders were so separate in every way (public, mannerisms, speech, etc.) and it was common (at a men’s gathering) to eliminate using special porcelain dishes under the table.

    The Masqueraders is a greatly entertaining, romantic, adventure novel.

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  29. The Masqueraders really won me over with that great scene in which Sir Anthony shows Prue that he’s figured out her secret. It really held me on the edge of my seat. Their relationship provides a younger reader with a good segue into a more mature romance that gets better with age. Besides that, you can’t help but laugh at all the complications that arise from cross-dressing!

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  30. I have always thought these cross-dressing stories highly preposterous. But I guess, in a society where every aspect of dress and behaviour is governed by one’s sex, that no one would even think of looking at a person in trousers and seeing a woman – or at a person in a dress and seeing a man. So it becomes a bit more plausible.

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  31. I giggled when I read this review–there’s such obvious room for humor with two cross-dressing siblings that I just couldn’t help it. As I said in another comment, I love the classic plot with the heroine dressed as a boy. Add the brother in here and it’s double your pleasure, double your fun. What’s not to love?

    Plus, apparently “the old man” is a delight as well!

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  32. I love The Masqueraders, it was my first Georgette Heyer book and still my favorite. It is a delightful romp, such fun!

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  33. I loved the adventurous romp of this book. In many, many re-reads, I still adore the moment of revelation that Peter is Prue, and when Sir Anthony lets her know he knows. So many great secondary characters. Is Sir Anthony the first incarnation of the ‘man-mountain’?

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  34. I hadn’t read this for years. I had to get it via ILL and just finished a few days ago. I don’t kow which was more fun-the ‘old gentleman’ or the love story between Prudence and Anthony. A great book!

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  35. I am glad I was able to get back online before the deadline. Thankfully I checked back on the books I was interested in because I thought I had already left comments/entries and found out that I hadn’t. Whew!

    A brother and sister switching genders, that has got to lead to some interesting twists and turns. I hope it isn’t too difficult to get into and follow but as Helen said she soon got into it and was able to follow with no problems. This one looks like a gem.

    I also want to thank RegencyRomantic and Lyne for posting the cant links. This Heyer newbie is very appreciative.

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