From the desk of Laura Gerold:
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.
4 out of 5 Stars
- The Toll-Gate, by Georgette Heyer
- Sourcebooks Casablanca (October 4, 2011)
- Trade paperback & eBook (320) pages
- ISBN: 978-1402238819
- Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Mystery
We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks Casablanca © 2011; text Laura Gerold © 2010, austenprose.com. Updated 15 March 2022.