Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Laura Gerold of Laura’s Reviews

Sprig Muslin is a light and funny Regency novel that showcases Georgette Heyer’s wit. I really enjoyed it and it made me laugh out loud several times!  Sprig Muslin was first published in 1956, but the novel is set in 1813.  The main action of the novel takes place in London, Chatteris (in the Fenland District of Cambridgeshire, England) and the roads in between.

This novel tells the tale of Sir Gareth Ludlow. His high spirited fiancée died in an accident many years previous to the start of the novel. Gary has decided he will never find love again and to just marry a friend, Lady Hester Theale, for convenience. Lady Hester is 29 and labeled an old maid – she also has ideas of her own about getting married!

On the way to propose to Lady Hester, Gary meets up with a young girl, Miss Amanda “Smith.” Miss Smith is in a local inn scandalously without a chaperone. Gary decides to chaperone her until he can find out her true identity and family. Hilarity ensues, especially with all of Amanda’s tales and adventures. The scrapes and misunderstandings were fantastic!

The version of Sprig Muslin that I read contained a forward from bestselling author Linda Lael Miller. I’d recommend skipping the foreword until you’ve read the novel. Miller basically tells the entire plot before you start the novel without giving any insight.

Sprig Muslin contains many of the elements that I love about Georgette Heyer novels. She has a quick wit to her writing and it is set in the Regency period, a time that I love to read about.  Heyer’s characters are wonderful well rounded beings.  In this novel in particular, I love that Gary is a wealthy, romantic man that is more than willing to do the right thing and help Miss Smith, but seems to really misunderstand Lady Hester.  Lady Hester herself is introduced by other characters as being a somewhat mousy lady that is “on the shelf”.  I really enjoyed seeing her character developed through the novel into a strong and independent lady on her own.  It was interesting in this novel as it explored a more mature love that arises from friendship with slightly “older” characters.  Juxtaposed with the young, impetuous Amanda Smith and her first flush of love, it made for an interesting contrast.

Overall, Sprig Muslin is vintage Heyer with great characters, great setting, and great humor.

Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer
Harlequin (2009)
Trade paperback (288) pages
ISBN: 978-0373773862

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 13 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Sprig Muslin, 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!

Upcoming event posts

Day 13   Aug 22 – Review: April Lady
Day 14   Aug 23 – Review: Sylvester
Day 14   Aug 23 – Review: Venetia
Day 15   Aug 25 – Review: The Unknown Ajax

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

33 thoughts on “Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

  1. Thanks for the great review. Was the version you read a British one? I’ve sent “over there” for the Heyer’s I couldn’t find here. I’d certainly want to avoid a forward that tells the story. I have read this one but will enjoy it again.

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  2. I think Georgette Heyer’s quick wit and humor is what drew me into reading her books. I look forward to laughing with Sprig Muslin.

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  3. Another I haven’t read that sounds especially wonderful. I love the idea of the hero and heroine both being older as opposed to the very young girl and the much older hero. Putting this one on the wish list at once. Thanks.

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  4. This was the first Heyer novel I read from the library. I loved it. It is so laugh out loud funny in some spots and yet so innocent in it’s fun for the most part. I think that’s what I miss sometimes is the innocence we’ve lost that and the absence of plot sometimes. I find there’s a similar plot in the other novels I’ve started but yet still fun to read. Mostly a light read, doesn’t take a lot of thought. Except for unfamiliar terms. I hope to continue reading her novels as they become available.

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  5. I think we have arrived at the point where a few of the novels resemble to few previous ones, in some cases the plots have not improved, but in others like this one, they have become even better.

    For people who have already read The Corinthian, in this one you might think that Sir Gareth Ludlow is a ‘descendant’ of Sir Richard Wyndham from The Corinthian, and Amanda resembles a lot to Pen Creed. However, that is only in the surface as the plot takes a more interesting twist with the presence of Lady Hester Theale, who IMHO is a ‘descendant’ of Anne Ellliot and perhaps it is that connection to Persuasion which makes this novel one of my personal favourites.

    Lady Hester, like Anne, is not appreciated by her own family and has lost her bloom, but once away from the influence of the Theales, she receives somewhat of a second spring in life and her unrequited love is at last reciprocated.

    There is a secondary character who deserves mention too, the young Mr. Hildebrand Ross.

    My favourite episode comes after Amanda has explained to Mr. Chickalade who ‘Aunt Hester’ is, LOL. An explanation which makes Aunt Gary appreciate Aunt Hester’s fine sense of humour.

    I really hope I could win a copy of this one, since I do not own a paperback copy of this for everyday use.

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    • How very interesting! The review made me more intrigued about Lady Hester than Miss Amanda Smith… Now, I’m looking forward to reading how Lady Hester resembles Anne Elliot. =)

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  6. This is going to be my next re-read. I also love the way Hester blossoms away from her family, and the humor is superb.

    Linda B. mentions that she is interested in a story where both the protagonists are older, as opposed to the older man, young ingenue. While the latter was extremely common in the Regency world, Heyer mixes it up throughout her novels, with some stories with both being quite young (Friday’s Child, Cotillion) and other with both being more mature (e.g., Black Sheep).

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  7. This is an especially fun read. And yes bits and pieces come from the other novels, yet the combination is unique. There is yet another taking-care-of-an-invalid-at-an-inn situation (how many is that so far?); there are the two young people who might be lovers, but who in fact fight exactly like the brother and sister they pretend to be (we’ll see this again in A Lady of Quality); there is the flighty and romantic young lady who is in love with a mature (sometimes pompous) young man who can keep her in line where others can’t (Mr. Comyn and Miss Marling in Devil’s Cub, and others I can’t call to mind just now); the proposed marriage between Sir Gareth and Lady Hester is very similar to the one between Gilly and Lady Harriet in the Foundling. But these characters have personalities of their own, and the situation and dialogue are frequently riotously funny. My favourite scene is where Amanda very surprisingly proves her mettle by tending to Sir Gareth’s wound and saving his life. Or the one where she describes the relationship she has invented between Lady Hester and Sir Gareth – rofl!

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  8. This sounds like a super fun book that I can’t wait to read! When I read the summery of Georgette Heyer’s books, I can’t help but be reminded of an old movie. Which is great, in my opinion, because I love them! :-)

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    • This is another of Heyer’s novels which “changed” on me from the first time I read it as a teen, rather like The Toll-Gate. In that one, I pretty much missed the romance all together and was focused on the mystery.

      In Sprig Muslin, as a teen, I saw the story as the romance of Amanda and her captain. I thought it was nice that Sir Gareth and Lady Hester got together, but on that first read I was much more concerned about Amanda. I also missed much of the humor of the book, as I think I was too close to Amanda’s age to get a lot of it.

      When I re-read the book in my thirties it was a completely different story, and I finally got all the funny bits. One of the things I love about Heyer is you can read her novels over and over again, and always find something new.

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  9. Oh, I hate it when forewords spoil the book. I’ve had that happen a few too many times. I don’t trust forewords or introductions now!

    I did enjoy this one! It was very funny!

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  10. Thanks for the review. This novel sounds great! I love novels where the plot is intertwined with humor. I look forward to reading this!

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  11. I love the scene at the inn with Gareth, Hester old Mr. Vinehall, after Amanda has come up with a story to explain who Hester is and what they are doing at the inn. I won’t say anymore, so as not to spoil it for those who have not yet read it, but it is a very funny scene. I think my favorite parts of Sprig Muslin are set at this inn.

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  12. I loved this book, one of very funny Heyer in my opinion, esp after the bottched highway robbery to “rescue” Amanda brings everybody together in an roadside in the roadside inn. I loved Lady Hester, very “mousy” at first glance, but a gem of a person underneath.

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  13. Another very funny book and with very likeable characters, and some villians also. Not criminals, but unpleasant. Hester is a delight, as is Gary. The secondary charaacters are well drawn and a delight in themselves. Highly recommended.

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

  15. Sprig Muslin is one of my Top 5 Heyer novels! It’s sad in parts – Hester’s unrequited love for Sir Gareth, e.g. – but so funny in others! When Miss “Smith” explains to Hester that she hates her made-up last name: “You know how difficult it is to think of a last name on the spur of the moment?” And when Hildebrand tells the chaplain that Hester’s brother in law (a sportsman) is thinking of going into politics! I die laughing every time I re-read this book, which is often.

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  16. This definitely does sound sad in parts – Sir Gareth’s backstory in particular is unusual for a Heyer novel. And Cinthia’s comparison of Lady Hester to one of my favorite heroines ever, Anne Elliot, certainly intrigues me! This is definitely one I’ll be reading.

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  17. I was so irked after I finished this book. Not because I didn’t like it, but because my local librarian told me to skip this one when I checked it out, saying it wasn’t up to the “normal Heyer standards”. I’m glad I ignored her because I finished it and loved it.

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  18. I have to reread this one, because I can’t remember much of it and the review has hooked me. Especially want to see Lady Hester’s development.

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  19. I like the idea of romance/love being explored from the innocence and blush of young love to the growth and depth of mature love. Add in the humor to the different point of view and this sounds like one marvelous read.

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