Friday’s Child, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Vic of Jane Austen’s World

Headstrong, spoiled and impetuous, Lord Sheringham wants to be married. Not because he is in love, but because he wants control of his fortune, his father having left it so that he would be either 25 or married before he could rid himself of his trustees. He has some difficulties with debts, certainly, but the main reason he wishes to have that trust drawn up is that one of his trustees is plundering his estate.

The book opens with his proposal to the Incomparable, Isabella Milborne, a lifelong neighbor and friend. She refuses him because they don’t love each other, and he, furious at her level-headed thwarting of his plans, vows to marry the next lady he sees. This would be Hero Wantage, another lifelong neighborhood friend, just out of the schoolroom and unschooled in any of the ways of Society. Hero, who has adored her friend Sherry for years, is an orphan who has been under the care of her cousin, who never intended to provide a Season for her ward, but rather to prepare her for marriage to the local curate, or for life as a governess. At just seventeen and full of fun, Hero is not ready for either quelling prospect.

So, the two decide that they will get married. Lord Sheringham’s cousins Gil and Ferdy and his friend George, Lord Wrotham, all of whom seem to travel in a pack, among them arrange for the marriage by special license. The young Lord and Lady Sheringham set up house, and Sherry and his friends seek to establish young Lady Sherry in London society, where they have been cutting a pretty wild and dashing swath. What follows is a madcap romp, as Hero falls in and out of scrapes as fast as she can. All through innocence, or from following her husband’s sayings. She is bright, educated, and has a mind of her own, and when she takes umbrage at her husband’s scolding her for something, she will say, “but you said…” To his credit, he hears his words and begins to reconsider his own way of life.

Finally, Lord Sheringham has had enough and, recognizing that his wild past has not prepared him for establishing a lady in the upper reaches of Society, he decides to send Hero off to stay with his mother. Hero is clear-eyed enough to know that this woman, far from wishing her well, will do what she can to destroy their marriage, so Hero runs away. To Gil and Ferdy and George, who decide to take Hero to Lady Saltash, a matriarch of the family, who will school Hero in the ways of the ton. Incidentally, as far as these young men are concerned, Hero’s disappearance will also show Lord Sheringham what he has not yet learned – that he really loves his wife.

Friday’s Child is said to be Heyer’s favorite of her novels. This is undoubtedly because of the countless amusing conversations among the many young men we see throughout the novel. Heyer’s deft comic touch sets her apart from the usual run of romance novelists, and the bright and worldly patter of this novel is certainly its strong point. Like all the best of Heyer’s heroines, Hero Wantage Sheringham is willing to stand up for herself. She shows a sharp tongue to her cousin after her marriage, and a strong desire to cut a dash in Society. If she is a little slow to learn which people to trust in the early days of her marriage, she still is sure of what she wants in a home, is capable of running a household with servants, and, when she runs away, shrewd enough to keep her abigail alongside with her baggage. The final chapters involve virtually everyone, including the Incomparable, in a pair of failed elopements, considerable miscommunication – most of it funny – a timely theft, and assorted miscues. At the end, the Incomparable and her swain Lord Wrotham are united, and the Sheringhams are back together, this time on a different level, wiser in the ways of love. Friday’s Child is an enjoyable romp, more comedy than romance, and great fun for a rainy day read.

Friday’s Child, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2008)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-1402210792

Blogmistress of Jane Austen’s World and Jane Austen Today, Vic Sanborn has loved reading Jane Austen novels, particularly Pride and Prejudice, since she was in High School. She discovered Georgette Heyer just after she graduated from college. Having run out of new Jane Austen novels to read, she began to search for other regency stories set in similar settings. One day at the library, she stumbled across Charity Girl and Arabella, and her love affair with all things Georgette began. You can also follow Vic on Twitter as janeaustenworld.

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 10 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Friday’s Child, by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks, 2008) 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 11    Aug 18 – Review: The Quiet Gentleman
Day 11    Aug 18 – Review: Cotillion
Day 12    Aug 20 – Review: The Toll-Gate
Day 12    Aug 20 – Review: Bath Tangle

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

49 thoughts on “Friday’s Child, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

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

  2. I love the give & take between the friends in this one, they’ve been such good friends for so long, but I always thought the other reason GH liked this one so well is because of the letter that was sent to her. As I understand it, she never kept much correspondence that people sent to her, but apparently Friday’s Child was read over & over by a lady who was in a refugee or prison camp either during or after WWII. The story was that she kept a lot of women sane because they had something to interest them. Now I’ll have to read the biography by Jane Aiken Hodge again… it’s in there.

    I really like Hero because she’s willing to step out and help someone, at cost to herself (the mother and baby). Loved Mr. Tarleton, too.

    I have so many books I have to go back and read again, now! This will make the next couple of months very busy.

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  3. One of my favourite bits in this is when two of the friends are discussing that ‘dashed Greek we learned about at Cambridge. Kept lurking about in corners’

    ‘You mean nemesis’
    ‘That’s the one’…..

    And George Wrotham is one of my favourites – I left a comment under The Foundling that he was a brother in fiction to Gideon in that book – tall, dashing, impetuous and handsome.

    Terri – you are right about treasuring the letter re Fridays CHild. It came from a Romanian political prisoner who kept herself and her fellow prisoners sane by telling the story of Friday’s Child over and over again. The woman who wrote the ltter was safe in the US and GH was able to thank for this heart warming tribute.

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    • It would seem that both Georgette Heyer and Jane Auten helped those who suffered in the two WWs.

      Austen was read by many men in the trenches during WWI, and was even recommended as therapy to those returning from the Front with what we now know is post-traumatic stress syndrome. It is generally believed that the calm, rural setting and non-threatening themes of the stories helped these men to regain their balance and perspective.

      Heyer’s Friday’s Child helped the ladies held prisoner in Romania mentally escape their prison into Hero and Sherry’s world. A victory for them over their jailers.

      I think these are both clear examples that novels of romance and personal relationships, with no murder or mayhem in sight, still have value in the world.

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  4. Great review! Definitely, as you say, “more comedy than romance.” I was disappointed the first time I read this book because I was expecting it to be more like an Arabella or Sylvester, and I had to read it again to appreciate it for the zany ride it is. Now I really enjoy it. My favorite scene is the end, when all the various storylines come crashing together amid hilarious dialogue. And, as someone above pointed out, Hero is endearing because she’s kind and compassionate. I also love the character of George; his friends are so unappreciative of his Byronic pose!

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  5. Great review!! I love Heyer’s great comedic touch in her novels and if this was her personal favorite because of the comedy, it sounds like a “must read!” The premise sounds very interesting, I love stories where two people get married and then fall in love.

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  6. Oh, I LOVE this book. The conversation, as Elaine already pointed out, re: “that Greek fellow” cracks me up every time! Gotta love Ferdy and Gilly. I was listening to this on the tram and was listening to that part & could hardly keep from laughing out loud. The other passengers must have been wondering if I was having a seizure!

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  7. Gil, Ferdy, and George are the most delightful of all Heyer’s male secondary characters, and the book is well worth reading just to make their acquaintance. However, I also really enjoy Sherry’s development over the book–that is what makes this distinctive for me. While I have heard some opine that Hero is just too-too precious, for me she rings true as the young inexperienced girl who hero-worships Sherry, and I enjoy her as much as Sherry. One of my favorite Heyers!!

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  8. The more I reread this book, the more I come to appreciate why it was Heyer’s favourite. Hero is a little simple for my tastes – I prefer Heyer’s more forceful heroines (Sophy, Frederica, et al) – but the interplay among the male characters is comedy at its best.

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  9. Such an engaging review, Vic! This has been recommended to me a lot and you’ve finally sold me on it… Not only because it’s Heyer’s favorite, but I’m also looking forward to the ‘countless amusing conversations’. That’s an aspect of Heyer’s writing that I really makes me laugh out loud.

    The lady in the cover art looks so forlorn, though…

    So, why is it called ‘Friday’s Child’? Is that an expression/idiom I am not familiar with?

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  10. Monday’s child is fair of face,
    Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
    Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
    Thursday’s child has far to go,
    Friday’s child is loving and giving,
    Saturday’s child works hard for his living,
    And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
    Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

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    • Is this a nursery rhyme? I’ve never even heard of this! Thanks Rhonda! =)

      So, Hero is loving and giving? Or is the title referring to Sherry?

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      • Yes, it’s a very old nursery rhyme. Hero is very loving and giving. I really like it when she takes up for a young mother who’s been used by a man, and when she does, Sherry does a lot of growing up in a hurry. But I also like it when Hero matures by the end, and you can see the difference when she stands up for herself with Isabella. The scene at the end is great. Of course, the chase scene leading up to it is wonderful.

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  11. Yes – loving and giving exactly describes Hero (aka Kitten), and I loved the way all Sherry’s friends recognized it before he did. In fact Sherry is almost my LEAST favourite character in FC – I wanted to smack him! At least he eventually learned (we hope). The scene at the inn at the end of the book is absolutely fabulously hilarious.

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  12. Friday’s Child was my first Heyer novel and hooked me in! I have been a Heyer fan ever since. I don’t remember all the details of the plot as its been two years since I read, but I hope to re-read it one day, so it will all come back to me! It is very surprising to know it was her fave novel too.

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  13. Somehow, in years (decades!) of reading Heyer I’ve missed this one. Something I’ll definitely have to remedy. Hero sounds charming, and I’ve got to meet these friends.

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  14. I look forward to reading this Heyer novel. It sounds like great fun and the humor of the situation that Sheringgam and Hero are in intrigues me. Thanks for the review.

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  15. Wow! – this one sounds sooo good. I love novels in which the secondary characters have strong roles. And one of the many things I like about Heyer novels is the humor, and it appears that Friday’s Child will have humor in abundance.

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  16. This is one of my favorite Heyer novels! I highly recommend the audiobook version read by Eve Matheson. It was so much fun and Matheson does a wonderful job with the men’s dialogue. Someone needs to make a movie version!

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  17. Has anyone heard the 1995 BBC Radio dramatization? It’s a hoot! =) It’s only an an hour and a half long, so I’m sure a lot is lost in the abridgment, but I enjoyed it immensely! The performers were all very good: Elli Garnett as Hero and James Frain as Sherry. The supporting cast is very funny as well!

    I haven’t read this one (as I can’t seem to get hold of a copy, print or audio), so I was caught off guard when they actually dramatized Sherry ‘hitting’ Hero! =O I don’t think I’ve read that in any other Heyer…

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  18. Friday’s child is my current read this week and I’m loving it. Ferdy, Gilly, George and Sherry make me laugh so hard. I love their camaraderie and their conversation is hilarious. I haven’t reach the “Greek fellow” bit but there is a prior give and take about Shakespeare and the origin of Hero’s name that is just too funny.

    Of course, Hero for knowing about Shakespeare, was feared to be a blue-stocking by Ferdy which was quickly decried by her new husband and Ferdy was severely scolded by Gilly for assuming so since being a blue-stocking is very bad ton indeed! LOL

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  19. Haven’t read this one yet. (I’m in the middle of The Grand Sophy, my first Heyer!) But, I believe that I’d written this down that this was a great one to start with as Vic suggested it to you, Laurel Ann, as your first Heyer. Do I recall this correctly? It does sound like some crazy antics, but a strong female is always appreciated! :)

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  20. I’ve read about eight of GH’s novels (so far). I just discovered her last year and absolutely love her books. My favorite female characters out of the ones I’ve read are Sophy, Frederica, Venetia & Deb. For the male characters I prefer Lord Alverstoke, Lord Dameral & Sylvester. I look forward to many more lovely evenings reading GH.

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  21. Oh how I envy all of you here who have only just discovered Heyer and are just embarking on a journey through them all! I almost wish I was back at the beginning and could start them with a fresh eye – you have hours, weeks and months ahead of you of joyous reading.

    Friday’s Child reduced me to helpless laughter when I first read it with all the back chat and comedy but this balances out against the gradually maturing of Sherry and the realisation that he loves Hero after all.

    One of Heyer’s best in my opinion written when she was at the top of her form

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  22. I haven’t read this one. It really intrigues me if it was Heyer’s own personal favorite. However, even without that reccommendation the plot sounds intriguing!

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  23. I was unaware that this was Heyer’s own personal favorite–how interesting! Especially since a few people I know who have read Heyer don’t like it because of Sherry’s… mistreatment (is that the right word, I wonder?)… of Kitten. However, I really enjoyed this one when I first read it, especially Sherry’s friends. I love how they also become Kitten’s friends and help her. And I think Sherry is a better hero because he’s not perfect and just as he somewhat stumbles into marriage with Kitten, he stumbles into love with her, which is what shows his growth as a character in the conclusion of the novel.

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  24. This is my favorite Heyer novel, as well as the one which opened my husband’s mind to reading as many of her books with me as I want him to. The story is outrageously funny – the cast her most complete ensemble. I love that Sherry, unlike so many Heyer heroes, is a terrible whip. The crash in Bath is one of my favorite scenes. A perfectly delightful story – every scene a complete delight! I had no idea the book was Heyer’s favorite too but certainly understand why.

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  25. Thanks for the great review! I too love the dialogue between the gentlemen, and how they take care of “Kitten.” I love all the characters so much, I can’t tell you who my favourite is, just that no matter how many times I read it, I still find it incredibly entertaining!

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  26. Stories of the young innocent trying her best to do what is correct and fill her position can be delightful and/or heartbreaking. It all depends on the man in her life whether she will succeed or be crushed. I am glad Ms Heyer has an intelligent as well as innocent leading lady. I can’t wait to see how she develops these character has them grow to realize their potential and their feelings.
    thanks for your post on this story.

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  27. I have read only one of her books where the marriage has already taken place in the beginning, or very close to it, Frederica. That element is what I’m curious about in this book, how they negotiate an ill-considered marriage. The heroine running away is an interesting twist, since I’m so used to seeing it in the context of running from parents.

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  28. The first paragraph of the review hooked me in. I know it’s just a minor part of the set-up, but for some reason, the idea that one of the trustees is filching his stuff really interests me. (All right, now you all know that I have larceny at heart.)

    Beyond that, the story of the Romanian prisoner is very touching. I’d like to read a book that could be so very dear to someone… with the full realization that it might not touch me in the same way.

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  29. I have read two Heyer novels so far, and the funny bits are my favourites. That this book is more amusing than most makes me want to read it!

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  30. I love FC! I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read it. I do confess, sometimes I just want to reread scenes with Gil and Ferdy for a good laugh.

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  31. Oh Firday’s Child is one of my favourites! I just adore all the characters in it!! And Sherry had to be the funniest of all Heyer’s heroes. Usually, his kind is a secondary character in her other novels.

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  32. As Elaine had mentioned, this shows how Heyer was reaching her height. It was her favourite but there are people who do not like it because it includes some of the youngest and immature characters in all Heyerdom, somehow if is like Pel (brother of Horry in The Convenient Marriage) and his friends have been given their own book.

    For my part, although I too prefer maturer protagonists, I cannot help loving this novel, in particular Hero ‘Kitten’ and her husband’s dear friends: Gil, Ferdy and George/Wrotham. The title was magnificently chosed because as it has already been mentioned Hero is indeed a Friday’s child, loving and giving and that is what makes her so endearing. I love how she leads Sherry a dance, in particular at Bath (the ferocious young man), and Ferdy and the ‘Greek’ character simply cracks me up. In fact all the misunderstandings that follow at the watering place are simply delightful.

    One last thing I think has not been said, altough most of the reviews have been posted in order of publication, I believe that since this one was the writer’s favourite, the review was delayed until her birthday. It was written in 1944, after Faro’s Daughter (1941) and before The Reluctant Widow (1946). So the already reviewed The Foundling (1948), Arabella (1949) and The Grand Sophy (1950) came after Friday’s Child too.

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  33. Ooh, I like the sound of this one too. The only thing that ever disappoints me about a Heyer novel is that it doesn’t follow the couple into matrimony so I’m curious how Heyer portrays the married state, albeit an unusual one, in this novel.

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  34. I wonder how a marriage that starts with a man marrying the “next female he sees” can possibly end well…

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  35. I’ve fallen behind and am just now catching up with all these wonderful reviews. I think this was the one that did it: I was actually reading Friday’s Child the week this was posted, and didn’t want to spoil anything by reading the review. I finished it, loved it, and just wrote a review of my own: http://www.librarything.com/work/18707/reviews/57843324

    The thing I like most about the book is certainly the trio of friends – Gil, Ferdy, and George are simply delightful. There are several scenes with Hero that are surprisingly moving, and there’s actually an abduction near the end! Vestiges of the Georgians, I wonder? Anyway, the book telescopes her career quite nicely, I think.

    I can’t tell you how much I want this particular giveaway! As I mentioned in my review, I have a ratty old paperback with a cover that strongly resemble a Pepto-Bismol ad.

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  36. The mentions of Sherry ‘mistreating’ Hero didn’t tweak my memory so I started a re-read and was surprised at the instances I’d overlooked earlier. Some mentions are from their childhood but one – however understandable in the circumstances – really stood out on this reading as simply unacceptable behavior in a hero. Quite puts Worth’s kissing ‘Clorinda’ into the shade.

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  37. Although parts of this seemed improbable to me, I like the way Sherry realizes he must become responsible and look out for Hero. I also like the way his friends weigh in and hold him accountable.

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  38. I have loved Heyer ever since I discovered her in my teens over 25 years ago. Back then my English was not good enough to read them in the original and I had to make do with them in German. Since moving to England over 15 years ago I have read and reread them in English countless times and I need not say that she is all the more delicious in the original. Her humour, her characterisation, her incredible research into subject and the elegance of her prose must always set her apart from other romance novelists. For me Friday’s Child excels in all of those reasons why I so love her work.
    Some commentators on this novel and on others have objected to certain premises in the novels. For example Sherry boxing Kitten’s ear when he is upset with her. And while I do not advocate such behaviour, one has to remember not only when the book was written but also in what time the book was set. I seriously doubt that anyone would have thought it unacceptable if an older brother boxed his younger sister’s ear or gave her a shake. It is not very kind but hardly that unusual. As for the book, Sherry at that point still looked upon Kitten as the sister-like creature he grew up with and not a woman with whom he would fall in love.
    As for the “Greek”, I still laugh out loud every time I reread that! Dear, dear Ferdy! :D

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