Guest review by Danielle of A Work in Progress
The Corinthian is the perfect summer read, a page-turning romp through Regency England with all the right elements pulled off perfectly. It’s a light-hearted comedy of manners and very much an adventure story with all sorts of twists and turns and misunderstandings — not surprising since the heroine spends the entire novel dressed as a boy!
I wasn’t sure at first just what a Corinthian was, though it’s easy to infer the meaning over the course of the novel. The dictionary defines it as:
a man about town, esp. one who lives luxuriously or, sometimes, dissolutely.
In this case, Sir Richard Wyndham is the Corinthian. Very much a dandy he is known as the “Man of Fashion” who cares for nothing but “the set of his cravat, polish on his boots, and the blending of his snuff“. Always elegantly attired from his perfectly windswept hair to the toes of his gleaming Hessian boots, he’s generally unutterably bored. He’s not lacking in encouragement to do his duty to find a wife and beget an heir, but he really couldn’t be bothered. Nearing thirty his mother and sister are urging him to marry a woman he grew up knowing. Only it would be a marriage of convenience as the lady is rather cold and disinterested. She will prevail upon him to accept his suit only because her family’s financial situation is dire, not because she loves him. Despite being the most eligible catch in the Marriage Mart, he has no other prospects (at least the sort who want him for himself rather than his bank account) and has resigned himself to his fate.
But fate has a way of tripping you up sometimes. After a particularly long and indulgent evening at Almacks, he leaves in a state of serious inebriation. Being “devilish drunk”, he decides to walk home and happens upon a most unusual sight. Out of an upper story window of a prim house, a mysterious fugitive comes scampering down a rope made up of knotted sheets only to discover it isn’t long enough. The fugitive is a slight youth who begs Sir Richard’s assistance.
The slight youth turns out to be not a boy, but a girl. Penelope Creed is no simpering miss. She’s an impish character, ready for adventure, but not the sort that includes becoming betrothed to her fish-faced cousin. An orphaned heiress she lives with her aunt who has distinct ideas of just what’s proper – a stifling atmosphere for one just out of the schoolroom. Richard is ready to send her packing back to her aunt, though she begs him to allow her to set off for Somerset, to her family’s estates and a friend she’s not seen for five years.
“There was a pause. Sir Richard unfobbed his snuff-box with a flick of one practised finger, and took a pinch. Miss Creed swallowed and said: ‘If you had ever seen my cousin, you would understand’.”
“He glanced down at her, but said nothing.”
“‘He has a wet mouth,’ said Miss Creed despairingly.”
“‘That settles it,’ said Sir Richard, shutting his snuff-box.’I will escort you to your childhood friend’.”
Sir Richard agrees to accompany Pen from London to Somerset — a journey filled with comedy and misadventure. It’s truly a rollicking good read and I could happily have went back to the beginning and started reading the story all over again. Heyer creates a wonderful atmosphere with just the right tension and perfect chemistry between Richard and Pen. Unlike many of Heyer’s heroes, Richard is not dour or condescending. He has a wry sense of humor that clicks with Pen’s youthful enthusiasm. They are both so likeable you can’t but help root for them. The Corinthian is one of, if not my very favorite, Heyer novel.
The Corinthian, by Georgette Heyer
Trade paperback (272) pages
Danielle has been blogging since 2005 at A Work in Progress. Writing about reading and interacting with other readers worldwide has been a trans-formative process, exposing her to so many authors that she might easily have missed, like Georgette Heyer, who is a fairly new obsession. She has a fairly eclectic taste in books including classics to thrillers, detective stories, historical fiction and anything literary—new or old. She works full time in an academic library devoting whatever free time she has left over to reading and her other passion needlework, and of course blogging about that too on The Peacock’s Feather.
Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 07 Giveaway
Enter a chance to win one copy of The Corinthian, 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!
Day 07 Aug 11 – Review: Faro’s Daughter
Day 08 Aug 13 – Review: The Reluctant Widow
Day 08 Aug 13 – Review: The Foundling
Day 09 Aug 15 – Review: Arabella