Guest review by Laura Gerold of Laura’s Reviews
Originally published in 1954, The Toll-Gate is a regency novel by Georgette Heyer. Unlike the other books I’ve read by Heyer, The Toll-Gate is not so much a regency romance as a regency mystery with a bit of romance. The novel is set in 1817 in the Peak District, which is an upland area in north central England mainly in Derbyshire (which is also the setting for many scenes in Pride and Prejudice).
Captain Jack Staple is on his way to visit a friend, when he discovers a toll-gate untended except for a small boy. He quickly discovers a mystery in the disappearance of the boy’s father and decides to pretend to be a mysterious cousin to the boy to investigate the case. Captain Jack has found life to be rather boring after his stint as a soldier in the Napoleonic Wars, and is more than a little willing to be caught up in the odd mystery of the toll-gate. Soon he finds himself dealing with a highwayman, treasure, a Bow-Street runner, and murders.
He also discovers Nell, the local squire’s granddaughter. His family’s previous attempts to set him up with a nice girl have failed, but he finds love at first sight with Nell. While he is dealing with the mystery of the toll-gate, he is also trying to rescue Nell from her cousin and his strange friend who appear to be up to no good. Nell is a feisty character and I really enjoyed reading the interactions between Jack and Nell.
I must admit that I did not like The Toll-Gate as much as I have loved all other Heyer novels that I have read. This book was entertaining and a good mystery, but I was expecting a romance and my expectations were not met. Also the book seemed to get caught up in jokes involving the vernacular of the lower classes. I could understand what they were talking about mostly, but felt left out of the joke a lot of the time. Plus, I must admit to a personal dislike of books that use a lot of vernacular. Heyer writes with great detail as usual, it’s just in this case the detail dealt a lot with the way the different classes spoke at the time and I found it a little hard to get into and enjoy.
Overall, The Toll-Gate is a good mystery, but it is very light on regency romance and full of vernacular jokes.
The Toll-Gate, by Georgette Heyer
Trade paperback (304) pages
Laura Gerold first fell in love with reading when her Great-Grandma Kile gave her the Little House on the Prairie series when she was eight. She has been unable to stop her reading addiction ever since, and discovered the regency world in her teens with Jane Austen’s wonderful novels. About five years ago, Laura discovered Georgette Heyer’s novels and was excited to find such a wonderful “new” author that really brought the regency world to life. She is a water resources engineer and mother of two, but loves to write about her reading obsession on Laura’s Reviews, a blog she started in 2007.
Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 12 Giveaway
Enter a chance to win one copy of The Toll-Gate, by Georgette Heyer (Harlequin, 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 12 Aug 20 – Review: Bath Tangle
Day 13 Aug 22 – Review: Sprig Muslin
Day 13 Aug 22 – Review: April Lady
Day 14 Aug 23 – Review: Sylvester