Arabella, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Kara Louise of Delightful Diversions

The heroine of Georgette Heyer’s novel, “Arabella” is Arabella Tallent, daughter of a clergyman from a country neighbourhood and one of eight children. Her father raised his family to care about those less fortunate, to shun extravagancies, and most of all, to live a principled life.

The fortune of the Tallent family is negligible, and it is the greatest wish of Mrs. Tallent for Arabella, her eldest and quite beautiful daughter, to marry well. When Arabella‘s godmother invites her to join her in London for the season, it is hoped that this will provide her with better opportunities to meet gentlemen of consequence and hopefully, find a suitable husband.

On Arabella’s journey to London the carriage breaks down, and the driver sets off to secure another carriage for her and her traveling companion. Rather than wait out in the cold, Arabella decides to seek shelter at a nearby home. The home of Robert Beaumaris.

It is here that Heyer sets up a humourous ‘misunderstanding’ that will take us through the story. Arabella overhears Mr. Beaumaris bemoan to his friend that ladies will do anything to throw themselves into his path because of his fortune, and he believes Arabella has done just that. He believes her carriage accident occurring conveniently outside his home a mere scheme of hers.

Arabella is appalled and retaliates by fabricating a story that she is The Miss Tallant, heir to a great fortune, and is tired of all the men who seek her out. She further expresses her hope that no one in town will come to hear of her wealth.

This bit of intelligence, meant only for the gentlemen, unfortunately follows Arabella to London, and she becomes one of the most sought after ladies in town. When she discovers that everyone believes she has a fortune, she is mortified, but has no idea what to do about it. Her greatest concern is what Mr. Beaumaris will think once he discovers she misrepresented herself to him. He is an influential man who can make or break a woman’s standing among the ‘ton’. The arrival of one of her brothers, who takes on a different identity and finds himself in one scrape after another, adds to her dismay.

Arabella has a rather compassionate nature, and she behaves in a most unrefined way as she rescues a stray dog, takes in an orphaned chimney sweep, and offers assistance to a woman of disreputable character. These acts of charity often involve a very reluctant — and bemused — Mr. Beaumaris, as well.

Georgette Heyer has an amazing ability to write fun, captivating stories filled with wonderful, well-developed characters. She has a precise knowledge and understanding of the Regency Era, and has a way with the language and slang of that era, as well. There are many times in this book that you will laugh heartily at Arabella’s antics. I heartily recommend “Arabella” as a book you will want to read again and again.

Arabella, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2009)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-1402219467

Kara Louise grew up in Los Angeles, but now lives in Kansas on ten acres out in the country. She has a great love for all things Jane Austen and has written and self-published six novels based on “Pride and Prejudice.” Two of those novels have been picked up by Sourcebooks. “Darcy’s Voyage” comes out in September, a variation previously entitled “Pemberley’s Promise.” She began reading Heyer’s novels about a year ago and has enjoyed each one. You can follow her on her blog, Delightful Diversions or on Facebook.

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 09 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Arabella, 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 09   Aug 15 – Review: The Grand Sophy
Day 10   Aug 16 – Interview with Vic Sanborn
Day 10   Aug 16 – Review: Friday’s Child
Day 11   Aug 18 – Review: The Quiet Gentleman

Celebrating Georgette Heyer   •   August 1 – 31, 2010

38 thoughts on “Arabella, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

  1. My favourite scene is when Beaumarais (who has agreed to adopt Arabella’s stray dog) goes out of town for a few days; the dog pines away and refuses to eat, and the entire staff, including the French chef spend the time trying to get him to eat. Hilarious!

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  2. I an intrigued with the interactions between Arabella and Mr. Beaumaris and the start of Arabella’s lie and it’s consequences. Overall, the novel sounds like a fun read.

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  3. This is one I have not yet read, and it sounds wonderful. So much about the plot seems typical of Heyer novels – misunderstandings between the hero and heroine – and that is exactly what is to be hoped for in a Heyer novel. Her scenes and the witty dialogs are why I read her novels and the plot of this one sounds like it will provide a great story.

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  4. This sounds like an amazing, fun book! I really like how she retaliates against the hero when she hears what he thinks about her carriage accident – and how that misunderstanding will shape her stay in London.
    Margay

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  5. Arabella is the first Heyer book I have read and in fact I finished it yesterday. It was a delightful and fun read and it has made me impatient to read more of Heyer’s books.

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  6. Mr. Beaumaris is an excellent hero! I love it as he gets saddled first with the chimney sweep and then with the dog. The classic stuff of Heyer comedy! Your review compels me to reread this book. I am going to grab my copy off the shelf, go wake up my husband, and start reading it to him. I see a Sunday if Heyer happiness in store for myself – thanks for the review and the inspiration!

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  7. Arabella sounds like a Heyeroine I would really like! Heyer comes up with the most perfect names for her Heyeroes: Beaumaris! =)

    This sounds like a little white lie that snowballs into a madcap adventure… Looking forward to reading this one! Thanks for a delightful review, Kara Louise.

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  8. Arabella sounds like “What if Northanger Abbey was written as a farce instead of a satire?”,which makes it total catnip for my reading list this fall!

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  9. Arabella was the first Heyer novel that I read and it did not disappoint! I loved the interactions between Arabella and Beaumaris. Heyer does a fantastic job describing the fashion of the day in this one too.

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  10. This book sounds like so much fun! I love the way the plot goes;its one of my favorite themes! I will most definitely be picking this one up!

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  11. Arabella was one of the first Heyer novels that I read. I loved the humor and I loved the character of Arabella. She is a delightful character and I like how she doesn’t sit back and “take it” when Mr. Beaumaris makes assumptions about her.

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  12. Arabella and The Grand Sophy were the first two Heyer books I read and I’ve re-read them over many times since. The first time would have been about 1965, the last about 2009 (Arabella). I’m now reading The Reluctant Widow, also a treat.
    Don’t know how I’ve missed it all these years.

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  13. I just finished listening to the audio (again) and enjoying Ulysses. Love it when he becomes a “carriage-dog” like Poodle Byng’s dog. I also really like Beaumarais’ grandmother.

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  14. My favorite moments were also between Mr. Beaumaris and Ulysses. I’ve read almost everything of Heyer’s and have been on the hunt for other similar authors (sadly, with no success).

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  15. Her father raised his family to care about those less fortunate, to shun extravagancies, and most of all, to live a principled life.

    Oh my, I want to pick this one up right away! So many of Heyer’s heroines don’t seem to have this kind of moral/social foundation and I’m really interested to see how she handles it.

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

  17. I think Arabella reminds me of Patience Chartley (secondary character in The Nonesuch), also a vicar’s daughter. She’s the one who flung herself almost under the wheels of a carriage to save a street urchin.

    I am now rereading Arabella and find so much laugh-out-loud dialogue – Beaumaris quizzing Arabella’s brother’s thickheaded friend, and congratulating said friend’s parents on his being an only child (ok – that reads awkwardly, but in the event it is wonderful). On being informed that his father had died three months after his birth, he says, “I’m amazed he lingered that long.” Of course it all goes over the head of the friend.

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  18. Why is it that when we set out to prove we are not guilty of something, we inevitably look even guiltier? So many romances hinge on this odd little quirk of human nature.

    As I’ve read the reviews this month, I’ve found several plots that later writers picked up and used themselves. Sometimes it’s just a single plot element, but sometimes… well, I won’t point fingers but at least once I recognized a plot that had been taken whole cloth!

    However, this beginning misunderstanding (hero thinks heroine is after his money) is absolutely classic. I’m eager to see how Heyer leads them through the paces to truth and love.

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  19. Love Arabella! The dog and Beaumaris bring to mind the most recent Heyer novel I’ve read – Frederica, with Alverstoke and the baluchistan hound. :)

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  20. I love the scrapes Heyer’s heroines get into, such lively fun! Ararbella sounds like it will be a fun read, it is next on my list.

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  21. This is one of the best Heyers, it shows she was at the height of her powers. IMO, Beumaris resembles a bit to Darcy, and Arabella a la Lizzy also overhears something disagreable, but due to her naivete she reminds me more to Catherine Morland. The incidents with the dog and the chimney sweep boy are simply hilarious.

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  22. Arabella was my second Heyer novel. Although I didn’t find it as good as The Grand Sophy (a tough act to follow), I did enjoy the interactions between the characters.

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  23. I’m fascinated by this one, not only because of Arabella’s rather unusual upbringing (for a Heyeroine, that is), but because it is, really, a Cinderella story!

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  24. My mother gave me Arabella for my 14th birthday – in German, it’s called Die bezaubernde Arabella, Enchanting Arabella. German Heyer titles are a pain – the translators feel they have to explain things. As though the reader didn’t feel Arabella’s charm all by themselves.

    The Tallant parents resemble other Anglican clergy parents – the Chartleys come to mind, but also characters in Dorothy Sayer’s books. A very likeable family, and it’s completely convincing that Arabella’s self confidence and moral compass stem from her upbringing.

    Everybody swoons over Mr. Beaumaris but he was always too smooth and perfect for me. My ultimate Heyeros (thank you for the word I learned here!) are the Count of Rule and Adam Deveril. Scratch that: Jonathan Chawleigh!

    Yes, the chimney sweeper’s story is one of the glimpses beyond ball rooms and drawing rooms. Heyer can do it all.

    One of my five Heyer favorites!

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  25. Arabella may be young, but she stands up for her values. I also loved the scene where they are going through her mother’s old clothes and she is sighing over them and remembering-this is such a delightful family portrait.

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