The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Ana of An Evening at Almack’s

I have been a long time fan of Georgette Heyer. I first read some of books while a teenager in translated versions and now, as an adult, I have been collecting them in the original English thanks to Arrow and Sourcebooks who made them readily available everywhere.

The Talisman Ring was one of the books that I read more recently. A mixed story, part romance / part mystery, it sees two couples searching around for a family jewel to exonerate one of the heroes from a murder charge. To make a long story short, Sir Tristam Shield and Eustacie de Vauban are ordered by their great granduncle and grandfather respectively to embark on a marriage of convenience to guarantee Eustacie’s wellbeing and status in life after the old man dies. But Eustacie is a lively and romantic girl who finds Sir Tristam a stuffy unromantic old man and decides to run away to become a governess. On the road she finds her cousin Ludovic, her grandfather’s heir who has been on the run for the past two years after having been suspected of murdering a man on the night his favourite jewel – the talisman ring – disappeared. Ludovic is now a free trader, which seems utterly adventurous and romantic to Eustacie, and after an encounter with the excise men he is hurt and they find shelter at a nearby inn. There they find Lady Sarah Thane, a young woman who travels with her brother and seems to have an original sense of humour, and that’s where Sir Tristam eventually finds them. With Eustacie and Ludovic on their way to falling in love the four set out to find the jewel and prove his innocence.

I must admit that this is not one of my favourite Heyers. I think the story, as a mystery, looses pace because of the romance and all those secondary characters – the free traders, the excise men, the Bow Street Runners – and as a romance looses interest because so much time is devoted to finding the jewel. I think I am more used to those Heyer romances where we find sparkling and witty dialogue between the main characters, where the funny coincidences make for laugh out loud moments and where we have closure in the end. Here, although there are some funny moments they are not so sparkling and witty, and while the story ends with one couple engaged, the other doesn’t get the same king of closure, although everything indicates that they will do so too.

I did like Lady Sarah Thane and Sir Tristam Shield very much. To the point where I would have loved to have the book devoted solely to them. In a way, because they are an older couple they reminded me of Abby and Miles from The Black Sheep which I greatly enjoyed. If only we had seen more of them I am sure that we had been gifted with some witty dialogues. Eustacie seemed a bit too young and, well, silly. I have been fond of other young heroines like Horry and Leonie and I have forgiven them their silly naiveté because of their wonderful heroes but here I must confess that Ludovic was not a favourite with me either. He seemed impulsive and extravagant but oh so perfect for Eustacie who only wanted a husband to ride “ventre a terre” to her death bed.

But don’t be discouraged by my review, lots of Heyer fans seem to love this story so my advice to you is try it and see. There are a lot of farcical moments and if nothing else it will definitely put you in a good mood.

The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2009)
Trade paperback (316) pages
ISBN: 978-1402217715

Ana has always been a reader. Her first love is historical fiction, be it romance, mystery or general fiction, if it’s historical she is happy! She also loves to discuss books with other readers and that’s why she started blogging. You can usually find her at one of the following blogs Aneca’s World, An Evening at Almacks , Historical Tapestry and Lights, Camera… History!. You can follow Ana on Twitter as Aneca.

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 05 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of The Talisman Ring, 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 06    Aug 09 – Review: An Infamous Army
Day 06    Aug 09 – Review: The Spanish Bride
Day 07    Aug 11 – Review: The Corinthian
Day 07    Aug 11 – Review: Faro’s Daughter

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

30 thoughts on “The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

  1. My favorite parts are Eustacie’s imaginative flights, Sarah & Sir Tristram, and especially Ludovic in drag. Love this one!

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  2. I just reread this, since I hadn’t for a long time, and have to agree that I love Sarah Thane and her interactions with Sir Tristam. I enjoy their dialogue greatly. I liked the pacing and the plot development and thought the elements complemented each other. I don’t have a problem with lots of action interspersing the relationships, as can be seen by some of my favorites, The Toll-Gate and The Unknown Ajax. Ludovic and Eustacie are over the top, of course, but in a way that adds to the plot. This book reminds me of a more immature version of The Reluctant Widow, with many of the same plot elements even though the story is completely different! Nicky has the same headlong enthusiasms as Ludovic and Eustacie.

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  3. This is definitely action packed book mystery book than a romance, but still one couldn’t help laugh at interactions between between the characters at the inn. I love the cover designs for all these source book novels, esp the one for Regency Buck which is my fave one.

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  4. Her books sound so different and imaginative. I will add this one to my every-growing list of books of her’s to buy
    :-)

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  5. Great review Ana. Being a mystery enthusiast, this novel appeals to me even though the romance is secondary. It’s good to have variety of themes, and Heyer is so creative. One never knows what to expect.

    Cheers, LA

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  6. This was my first Heyer and the one that started off my life long love of this author. I found Eustace and Ludovic very dashing and delightful, but even as a teenager I found Tristram and Sarah much more interesting, witty and amusing. It has always remained one of my firm favourites.

    See my review is up today!

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  7. Becky,
    I feel that way too!

    Terri,
    Ludovic in drag was hilarious. :-)

    Fatima and Chelsea B
    I hope you enjoy it!

    Rhonda,
    I have yet to read The Unknown Ajax but it’s on my list.

    Vidya,
    I agree, all these new covers are lovely

    Jessica,
    Sarah is definitely my favourite character

    Laurel Ann,
    You’re welcome! Thanks for inviting me. :-)

    Elaine,
    Going to check your review!

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  8. Thanks for your honesty about the parts of this novel that you didn’t love unreservedly. Heyer’s farcical moments are always great and I look forward to discovering this one! It does seem to end up on a lot of people’s top faves lists.

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  9. This is one of my favourite Georgette Heyer’s. I really like the development of the relationships and liked the mix between romance and mystery!

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  10. Where are you from, Ana? I am not a native English speaker either, but I have only read these novels in English, since there are few Spanish translations available.

    Contrary to you, this one is among my top favourites (so far count TOS, TM, DC, TCM, this one -TTR- and AIA). I do not mind that this is not 100% a romance nor 100% a mystery, I do like that it is a mix of both and that it has a lot of comic scenes and comic dialogue.

    In fact, this is one of the first Heyers I read and the first that made me discover what a danger is to read the novels while commuting. I burst out loughing out loud with the scenes after the runners caught Sarah and Tristam outwits her. That is one of my favourie scenes.

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  11. Wisewoman,
    I hope you enjoy it!

    Kim,
    And do you also enjoy her mysteries? I haven’t read any yet but I plan to.

    Cinthia,
    I’m portuguese. :-)

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  12. Count me as one of the people who love this book. I prefer the older heroines, perhaps because seeing men in their thirties marry girls in their teens makes me wince. But I also thought this book very amusing. Some of the dialog between Tristam and Sarah tickles my funny bone.

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  13. Give me Georgette Heyer anyday! I wonder if she’d lived longer if she might have done sequels to these if she’d received the kind of fanfare that she does today? I would love to see spin offs of many of her characters.

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  14. I loved the inclusion promise to ride “ventre a terre” in the marriage proposal of Sarah and Sir Tristam. It was a romantic scene that still had their tongue in cheek, sarcastic humor.

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  15. I love this one. Lent my tattered copy to a friend having surgery and told her it was falling-out-of-bed funny! My favourite scene was the one where Sarah tells Tristram (under her breath) “Don’t you dare!”

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  16. Jane,
    I like older couples too. My favourites are the hero and heroine of The Black Sheep.

    Karen,
    I had never thought about that but I definitely wouldn’t mind reading some sequels. I would also love to see movies based in her stories.

    Tina,
    I loved that detail too.

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  17. This is my favourite Heyer – in fact, my favourite book of all time – and I see no reason to defend my choice to someone who claims that the plot ‘looses pace’. When you can write like Heyer, then you may criticise.

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  18. LOL well Anna I don’t see why you would have to defend your choice… we each have our favourites and that’s that.

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  19. I haven’t read any of Heyer’s books that involve the mystery aspect, and this one sounds great! Can’t wait to read it!

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

  21. Mystery? Now that intrigues me, even if the romance is more of a background element. In fact, I rather like the change of pace that would create.

    I think I need to start an actual, physical list of the GH books I want to read. I’ll never remember them all otherwise.

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  22. My top 10 list of Heyer favorites probably has 25 titles on it but The Talisman Ring is certainly high on that list. Tristram is so dour and anti-woman initially, and Sarah Thane so humorous and knowing, that you just know they’re Meant For Each Other. And Eustacie is looking for capital R romance; where else will she find it but in the arms of her disgraced free trader cousin, Ludovic? The dialog is especially wonderful – my sisters and I often quote the “riding ventre a terre” scene, it’s so delicious! And while I haven’t read TTR as recently as Ana, I was confused by the mention of a “family jewel”. If I remember correctly (and I could be wrong), I don’t think the ring has a jewel; it’s just (just!) a plain, gold ring with ancient writing on it. The quest to find the ring brings these wonderful characters together; I think Heyer does a wonderful job of mixing mystery and romance in this novel.

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  23. I’ve enjoyed reading The Talisman Ring several times! I think my favourite character is Sarah Thane, though I did find her brother’s character a great deal exaggerated. I didn’t mind Eustacie too much….

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  24. Another mix of mystery and romance sounds intriguing. Though I’ve tried reading several of Heyer’s mystery novels, I have yet to finish one. I find the mysteries to be very dry. Heyer’s humor balances the mix of romance/mystery in novels like the Reluctant Widow which I have read.

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    • This one has a similar flavour to The Reluctant Widow (one of my Big Five Faves) although the characters are more over-the-top.

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  25. I just finished rereading this-had to get it InterLibrary Loan, so it had been a while. I liked the historical subplot of the smugglers.

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