Frederica, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Nicole Bonia of Linus’s Blanket

Lord Alverstoke is a stylish and wealthy bachelor – bored with his sisters, their families and their perpetual ploys to get him to fund their already lavish lifestyles.  Cynical to the core, he is skeptical when he meets Frederica, the charming head of the orphaned Merrivale clan. Frederica has brought her family to London to ask the assistance of relatives of her late father in launching her beautiful sister, Charis, into society with the hopes of finding her a husband.  The right match will make all the difference in the family fortunes, and save Frederica and her family from genteel poverty.  Needless to say Alverstoke’s sisters are less than pleased with the appearance of their distant relatives and are proprietary about not only Alverstoke’s time and attention, which is newly directed at the young family, but also of his money.

This is by far my favorite of Georgette Heyer novels.  While so many of them have been enjoyable to me, here she strikes just the right balance with her charming and engaging plot and characters.  I love Alverstoke’s dry wit and interaction with his family, and it was fun to see him question the way he has been living his life as he becomes more involved in the always interesting antics of the Merrivales.  I have to say that I shared his impatience with Charis – beautiful and well-mannered though she might be; the girl was a bit of a dim bulb.  Frederica and Alverstoke are wonderful together and I love that she is such a determined, smart and capable heroine.

One of the things that I have really come to appreciate about Heyer is her fabulous detail to the period – the food, clothing, furnishings and language.  She doesn’t fail here, and brings the same wonderful sense of time and place that has been present in her other novels.  The characters are vibrant and I enjoyed the pacing and the way that Alverstoke and Frederic gradually came to know each other better and managed their feelings for one another.  A vibrant cast of characters kept me wondering what they next antics would be as Frederica’s brothers Jessamy and Felix are fully developed, mischievous and constantly getting into things that Frederica and then, of course, Lord Alverstoke would have to get them out of.  I rationed the chapters so that I could savor this lovely romance.

Frederica, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2009)
Trade paperback (448) pages
ISBN: 978-1402214769

Nicole Bonia writes the book blog, Linus’s Blanket, focusing on literary fiction book reviews and recommendations from a wide variety of genres.  An active member of the book blogging community, Nicole created the weekly Blog Talk Radio show- That’s How I Blog! in 2009, featuring candid conversations with book bloggers and authors on reading habits, book blogging experiences, trends and best practices.  In addition to being an avid reader Nicole is co-founder of online publicity company, Winsome Media Communications, and also enjoys traveling, hosting dinner parties, and playing league bocce on Sunday afternoons. You can follow Nicole on Twitter as NicoleBo.

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 17 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Frederica, 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 17   Aug 29 – Review: Black Sheep
Day 18   Aug 30 – Review: Cousin Kate
Day 18   Aug 30 – Review: Charity Girl
Day 19   Aug 31 – Review: Lady of Quality

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

32 thoughts on “Frederica, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

  1. This is one of my favorite Georgette Heyer novels. I can’t get enough of it. The characters are all marvelous & I always want to be like Frederica. Alverstoke is fabulous. He looks to be so bored, removed, etc., but he’s really such a solid MAN.

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  2. You know, I love all of Georgette Heyer’s regency romances. But, I think this one is my favorite. It was one of the last one of her’s that I read in my GH reading frenzy. I loved the heroine’s practical approach and the mayhem that the younger boys got into. I loved watching the hero change from a self involved man to someone who saw others’ lives with less boredom and more interest. I look forward to reading this book again!

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  3. I read these books MANY years ago and they had somewhat dimmed in my memory. I have to thank you for reminding me of the JOY of her writing. I have begun to buy and read them all over again . This is one of my all time favorites and I have it sitting on the table ready to read. Thank you again for reviving my memories. Diane

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  4. Not many comments on this one. I guess you either love it or leave it.

    Me, I love it. The whole family dynamic and Frederica’s unwitting attraction to Alverstoke are lovely to watch unfolding.

    You can sure tell one of Heyer’s first readers was her son, though, what with all the antics of Jessamy and Felix and the dog. Not exactly standard fare for a romance novel.

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  5. What’s not to love about Frederica. It is a favorite, and as in many of Heyer’s novels, the supporting characters (the younger brothers in this case) add so much to the enjoyment of the novel.

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  6. You’re right about all the details. I think that’s part of her charm, because you know that when she describes something it’s as correct as she could make it – no guess-work. She set the bar very high!

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  7. This is one of the Heyer favorites that I am so looking forward to reading! A cynical Heyero with dry wit and a determined Heyeroine who is smart… I have a feeling I’m really going to love this one.

    Thanks for a lovely review, Nicole! =)

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  8. This is really one of my very favourite Heyers (I love most of them). The scene with the Baluchistan Hound has to be one of the funniest in the oeuvre! And, yes, it is Frederica’s brother Felix who steals the book – with Alverstoke’s charming secretary coming close. (Just lent out my copy, can’t remember his name.) The reason why Alverstoke agreed to sponsor the Merrivales (to whom he is not related at all, and only connected through two marriages, as he points out), is a major hoot in itself.

    This book (as I commented on one of the introductory posts) has it all: a breathtakingly beautiful girl, a Baluchistan Hound, a balloon ascent, a child endangered, a taking-care-of-an-invalid-at-an-inn episode, an elopement – what else. And again, even though many of the characters and situations are familiar from other GHs, each also has unique features. Felix is like no other child in GH; Charis, although beautiful and dim like The Foundling, is able to design and sew beautiful clothes . . .

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  9. I just had the joy of reading Frederica, and I must agree with the other people who said it is a favorite! So many great moments, I think Nicole hit on them all. I must just say that the moment when Alverstoke kisses Frederica’s hand is one of the most romantic moments in literature!

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  10. This one is definitely a favorite. It’s been memorable for me too. I haven’t forgotten the little details that make this one such a charming read. I really enjoy how Alverstoke comes to love Frederica’s family. Frederica’s brothers were just great :)

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  11. This is the last of the greatest Heyer novels, definitely a top favourite among Heyerites and the one I love the most (the condition of my everyday copy attest it too), I remember very clearly it was the third Heyer I ever read.

    It is exciting to see how inititally Alverstoke takes interest in the Merrivilles just to annoy his own family but later, as much as he would wish to avoid become more and more entangled with them and finally realises he does not want to be free from them (at least three of them), he, he, he, he. Meanwhile, Frederica too from believing herself so independent and foreseeing, is forced to depend more and more in her distant cousin. How they unconciously fall in love with each other and that shakes them from their so confident state of mind and life.

    In particularly I enjoy how Alverstoke believes he has blinded everyone about his love for her, but from his private secretary (Charles Trevor is his name, Aprilfool and he has a ‘predecessor’ in Mr. Arnold Gisborne, Rule’s secretary in The Convenient Marriage) to his elder and younger sisters (Lady Jevington and Lady Elizabeth Kentmere) and close friends (Mr. Darcy Moreton) have noticed he has fallen seriously in love at last. Even his own nephew notices he is his rival.

    There is more than a love story, BTW, including one of a very boring Romeo and Juliet too.

    Of course the most comic episode is the one with Lufra, the so called Baluchistan hound, but let us not forget the scenes when Frederica and Charis arrive to the ball, then what happens at the foundry and how Felix coaxes Alverstoke for taking him to see the ballon ascension, the chase after it (with the hope that sustain Alverstoke through that awful time), the Restorative Pork Jelly and the narration of the frustrated wedding ceremony.

    There are many, many delightful characters in this novel.

    It is my fervent desire to have this one translated into Spanish, so my mother could enjoy it too (and at this pace, maybe I will do so myself).

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  12. Frederica is tops on my list of Georgette Heyer novels. I love the comedic antics of Frederica’s family and the way Alverstoke accepts them with good grace and humor. I fell in love with Alverstoke. He’s a good solid hero with a great sense of humor. I admire Frederica in the way she kept a sensible head and did what she had to do to take care of her family and found love in the process. The ending of the novel makes me laugh, though annoys me because it’s not very romantic. My favorite scene is the one with the Baluchistan Hound. It makes me laugh out loud.

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  13. I think if you had Heyerophiles list their top 5 favorite Heyer novels, Frederica will be the one that is in nearly everyone’s list. As others have commented, this book just has so many wonderful moments!

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  14. Lufra is a great Heyer dog, only second to Ulysses, who had such a lot of personality. My favorite here is Felix-“I’m not asking, I just thought you’d like a treat”, and Alverstoke’s names for him, like rag-mannered thatchgallows, and (my favorite) bacon-picker.

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  15. I haven’t read any of Heyer’s novels yet, but I have heard that they are the best. If this is the best of the best, I would love to read it.

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  16. I am always seeing Frederica at the top of people’s favorite Heyers lists, and I think it’s going to be my next book of hers. Thanks for a great review (and for not getting too spoilery!).

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  17. Frederica is one of my favorite Heyer novels. Heyer’s characters in Frederica are so well developed, have depth, and are very enjoyable. I especially loved Felix! Reading this review makes me want to read Frederica all over again, but there are still so many Heyer novels I haven’t read yet!!

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  18. Thank you for the review. This novel will be one of my first Heyer’s to read. I love the thrill of the plot and the young Lord who will help his poorer relatives. This novel reminds me of Tess of D’Ubervilles and of Mansfield Park. I look forward to reading this novel.

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  19. Ooooh, I can’t resist a cynical hero and a heroine who manages and looks after her orphaned brother and sisters. The names are also wonderful. Alverstoke!

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  20. This is one of my favorites. I like the way all the family members are developed. The younger boys are a lot of fun-Felix strikes my fancy.

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