Devil’s Cub, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Meredith of Austenesque Reviews

Dominic Alistair, the Marquis of Vidal, has done it again…  After engaging in a most dishonorable and unceremonious duel over cards, he is banished to France by his father, the Duke of Avon.  His behavior of late has been more scandalous than usual, and his latest transgressions coupled with his profligate behavior have caused his mother, Duchess Leonie, undue distress.  Dominic, however, plans to enjoy his banishment by taking a mistress with him to France.

Mary Challoner, the older sister of Dominic’s latest coquette, thwarts her sister’s plan to runaway with Dominic by not informing her of Dominic’s intended time and place of departure.  Mary, instead, devises her own scheme to prevent Dominic from ever pursuing such a clandestine and nefarious affair with her sister ever again.  However, there is one slight glitch in our heroine’s plan…  Mary is unaware that Dominic’s intended destination is to France and unfortunately for her, it is no longer her sister Sophie’s reputation that needs saving, it is her own!

This is my very first Georgette Heyer novel and I am exceeding happy to discover that her novels are just as delightful and diverting as promised!  I especially took pleasure in her satirical wit and exhilarating twists and turns!  In addition, I enjoyed finding that Georgette Heyer is similar to Jane Austen in that they both create wonderful, realistic, and comedic characters.  In Devil’s Cub, the minor characters steal the show!  Justin, the Duke of Avon, a former rake before he married, is proud to see his son following in his footsteps, yet he finds it quite tiresome to be saving his son’s hide and reputation all the time.  Leonie, Dominic’s mother, loves that her son has inherited her fiery spirit and temper, and she often pleased by his wicked behavior!  Dominic’s Aunt Fanny is a paradox; while professing her concern about how wicked Dominic is and how something should be done to save the family’s reputation, she is all the while secretly hoping he marries her daughter because it would be a most excellent match for her (sounds like Mrs. Bennet, doesn’t it?)  Uncle Rupert (one of my favorite characters) is absolutely hysterical with his all-consuming concern over his next meal and preoccupation with sampling good wine.

Devil’s Cub was an exciting and entertaining adventure complete with confusion, flaring tempers, a copious amount of chasing, and many misadventures. While I would have liked the love-story between the two main characters to be focused on a little more, I understand that the action of the story and the many events that took place were important and required some page time.  Nevertheless, I immensely enjoyed this lively and amusing Regency tale, and I am so very happy that I finally discovered the joy of reading Georgette Heyer.   I look forward to reading her many other works!  Furthermore, I understand that Devil’s Cub is the second book in a trilogy by Georgette Heyer; I cannot wait to get my hands on the other two books!!

Read an excerpt at Scribd

The Alistair Trilogy:

Meredith Esparza, a long-time admirer of Jane Austen and an avid reader, started writing reviews as a hobby several years ago.  In September 2009 she became more serious about her hobby and started her own blog, Austenesque Reviews, a blog devoted to the reading and reviewing the numerous Jane Austen sequels, fan-fiction, and para-literature that have been recently published, as well as the ones that were published years ago.  In addition to reading Austenesque novels, Meredith takes pleasure in reading novels by the Brontës, Louisa May Alcott, and Georgette Heyer! You can follow Meredith on Twitter as Austenesque.

Devil’s Cub, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2009)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-1402219535

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 04 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Devil’s Cub, 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 04   Aug 06 – Review: The Convenient Marriage
Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: Regency Buck
Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: The Talisman Ring
Day 06   Aug 09 – Review: An Infamous Army

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

The Masqueraders, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Helen of She Reads Novels

The Masqueraders, originally published in 1928, is one of Georgette Heyer’s earlier novels. It’s only the second Heyer book I’ve read and I found it very different to my first, The Talisman Ring, in setting, language and plot.

Set just after the Jacobite Rising of 1745, it follows the adventures of Prudence and her brother Robin. Along with their father (referred to by his children as ‘the old gentleman’) Robin had been involved in the failed Jacobite rebellion and is now in danger of being hanged. To prevent him being captured, the brother and sister have created new roles for themselves – Robin has disguised himself as the beautiful ‘Miss Merriot’ and Prudence has become the handsome young ‘Peter’. All very Shakespearean! Not surprisingly, this leads to a number of misunderstandings and narrow escapes.

Things get even more interesting when Prudence, still posing as Peter Merriot, begins to fall in love with Sir Anthony Fanshawe – and then ‘the old gentleman’ arrives on the scene, claiming to be the lost heir to the Barham fortune.

I found the story confusing and difficult to follow at first. I spent several chapters trying to work out exactly why Prudence and Robin had found it necessary to masquerade as people of the opposite sex and what they were hoping to achieve. It also took me a while to get used to the Georgian-style dialogue, with all the egads, alacks and other slang terms of the period.

Robin made a face at his sister. “The creature must needs play the mother to me, madam.”
“Madam, behold my little mentor!” Prudence retorted. “Give you my word I have my scoldings from him, and not the old gentleman. ‘Tis a waspish tongue, egad.”

After a few chapters, however, various parts of the story started to fall into place and then I had no problem understanding what was happening. I ended up enjoying this book more than The Talisman Ring, which surprised me as a lot of people have told me that The Talisman Ring is their favourite Heyer, so I wasn’t expecting this one to be as good.

There were many things that made this book such a success for me. I thought the Georgian setting, with its powdered wigs, card games, sword fights and duels, was perfectly portrayed. The plot was full of twists and turns that kept my interest right to the end. And I loved the characters. The calm and cool-headed Prudence was the perfect balance for the more impetuous Robin – and both were fun and likeable. Watching Prudence’s relationship with Sir Anthony develop was one of my highlights of the book. Robin’s romance with Letty Grayson, who knew him only as a masked man known as the Black Domino, was equally well written.

Most of all, I loved the ‘old gentleman’. He was conceited, arrogant and a scheming rogue – but he was also hilarious and capable of coming up with such ingenious schemes that maybe his arrogance was justified.

“Have you limitations, my lord?” asked Sir Anthony.
My lord looked at him seriously. “I do not know,” he said, with a revealing simplicity. “I have never yet discovered them.”

I may have only read two of Georgette Heyer’s books so far, but I’ve enjoyed both of them – particularly this one – and can’t wait to read more of her work!

Helen is a 29 year old book lover from the North East of England. She particularly enjoys discovering 19th century classics and immersing herself in long historical fiction novels, but also reads other genres too. Her blog, She Reads Novels, is a place for her to post reviews of all the books she reads and to share her thoughts on reading in general. The title of her blog is inspired by a line from Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s 1864 classic The Doctor’s Wife – “She had read novels while other people perused the Sunday papers”. This isn’t completely true, as she does sometimes read the Sunday papers – but has to admit she would rather be reading a novel! Follow Helen on Twitter as shereadsnovels.

The Masqueraders, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2009)
Trade paperback (352) pages
ISBN: 978-1402219504

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 03 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of The Masqueraders, 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 04   Aug 06 – Review: Devil’s Cub
Day 04   Aug 06 – Review: The Convenient Marriage
Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: Regency Buck
Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: The Talisman Ring

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

The Masqueraders, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Helen of She Reads Novels

The Masqueraders, originally published in 1928, is one of Georgette Heyer’s earlier novels. It’s only the second Heyer book I’ve read and I found it very different to my first, The Talisman Ring, in setting, language and plot.

Set just after the Jacobite Rising of 1745, it follows the adventures of Prudence and her brother Robin. Along with their father (referred to by his children as ‘the old gentleman’) Robin had been involved in the failed Jacobite rebellion and is now in danger of being hanged. To prevent him being captured, the brother and sister have created new roles for themselves – Robin has disguised himself as the beautiful ‘Miss Merriot’ and Prudence has become the handsome young ‘Peter’. All very Shakespearean! Not surprisingly, this leads to a number of misunderstandings and narrow escapes.

Things get even more interesting when Prudence, still posing as Peter Merriot, begins to fall in love with Sir Anthony Fanshawe – and then ‘the old gentleman’ arrives on the scene, claiming to be the lost heir to the Barham fortune.

I found the story confusing and difficult to follow at first. I spent several chapters trying to work out exactly why Prudence and Robin had found it necessary to masquerade as people of the opposite sex and what they were hoping to achieve. It also took me a while to get used to the Georgian-style dialogue, with all the egads, alacks and other slang terms of the period.

Robin made a face at his sister. “The creature must needs play the mother to me, madam.”
“Madam, behold my little mentor!” Prudence retorted. “Give you my word I have my scoldings from him, and not the old gentleman. ‘Tis a waspish tongue, egad.”

After a few chapters, however, various parts of the story started to fall into place and then I had no problem understanding what was happening. I ended up enjoying this book more than The Talisman Ring, which surprised me as a lot of people have told me that The Talisman Ring is their favourite Heyer, so I wasn’t expecting this one to be as good.

There were many things that made this book such a success for me. I thought the Georgian setting, with its powdered wigs, card games, sword fights and duels, was perfectly portrayed. The plot was full of twists and turns that kept my interest right to the end. And I loved the characters. The calm and cool-headed Prudence was the perfect balance for the more impetuous Robin – and both were fun and likeable. Watching Prudence’s relationship with Sir Anthony develop was one of my highlights of the book. Robin’s romance with Letty Grayson, who knew him only as a masked man known as the Black Domino, was equally well written.

Most of all, I loved the ‘old gentleman’. He was conceited, arrogant and a scheming rogue – but he was also hilarious and capable of coming up with such ingenious schemes that maybe his arrogance was justified.

“Have you limitations, my lord?” asked Sir Anthony.
My lord looked at him seriously. “I do not know,” he said, with a revealing simplicity. “I have never yet discovered them.”

I may have only read two of Georgette Heyer’s books so far, but I’ve enjoyed both of them – particularly this one – and can’t wait to read more of her work!

Helen is a 29 year old book lover from the North East of England. She particularly enjoys discovering 19th century classics and immersing herself in long historical fiction novels, but also reads other genres too. Her blog, She Reads Novels, is a place for her to post reviews of all the books she reads and to share her thoughts on reading in general. The title of her blog is inspired by a line from Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s 1864 classic The Doctor’s Wife – “She had read novels while other people perused the Sunday papers”. This isn’t completely true, as she does sometimes read the Sunday papers – but has to admit she would rather be reading a novel!

The Masqueraders, by Georgette Heyer

Sourcebooks (2009)

Trade paperback (352) pages

ISBN: 978-1402219504

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 03 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of The Masqueraders, 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, Friday, September 6th, 2010. Winners will be announced on Saturday, September 7th, 2010. Shipment to continental US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 04   Aug 06 – Review: Devil’s Cub

Day 04   Aug 06 – Review: The Convenient Marriage

Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: Regency Buck

Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: The Talisman Ring

Celebrating Georgette Heyer August 1 – 31, 2010

These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Keira of Love Romance Passion

For a truly exceptional read, Regency or otherwise, that makes you giddy with glee you need to pick up These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer. It’s a delightful story about a cross-dressing female who goes from rags to riches and from unloved to abundantly loved. It’s even a guardian/ward romance! Not to mention the kidnapping sequence and the revenge plot! It’s positively action packed.

The hero is a cross between a dandy-like Corinthian, with his scented handkerchief, heeled shoes, and fan — and — the veriest devil of a man with fierce eyes, keen intelligence, and a merciless thirst for revenge. The heroine is a Nonpareil who can sword fight, capture princes with a flutter of eyelashes, and shock matrons with her language!

What really pleased me is the slightly different formatting. There seemed to be much more dialogue in this novel than in others also by Heyer. In addition, every chapter has a little summary-like heading telling you what you’ll find in the upcoming section. It was very nice and a source of amusement with titles such as ‘Lady Fanny’s Virtue is Outraged’ and ‘Mr. Marling Allows Himself to be Persuaded.’

One of my absolute favorite parts is a reflection of what’s going on between some side characters:

‘I don’t trust him.’

‘Why, I think I do for once.’ Hugh laughed a little. ‘When last I saw Léonie – Léon she was then – it was “Yes, Monseigneur” and “No, Monseigneur.” Now it is “Monseigneur, you must do this,” and “Monseigneur, I want that!” She twists him round her little finger, and, by Gad, he likes it!’

‘Oh, but there’s naught of the lover in his manner, Hugh! You have heard him with her, scolding, correcting.’

‘Ay, and I have heard the note in his voice of – faith, of tenderness! This wooing will be no ordinary one, methinks, but there is a bridal in the air.’

‘She is twenty years behind him!’

‘Do you think it signifies? I would not give Justin a bride his own age. I’d give him a babe who must be cherished and guarded. And I’ll swear he’d guard her well!’

‘It must be. I do not know. She looks up to him, Davenant! She worships him!’

‘Therein I see his salvation,’ Hugh said.

These Old Shades, pp 274

I hardly have the words to describe how awesome that last line is and indeed this whole section. The only thing that could make this story better is more of it! I did not want it to end!

These Old Shades is a must read for Heyer fans and one I would very much recommend for new comers to try first. You will not be disappointed.

Read an excerpt on Scribd

Keira is the webmistress of LoveRomancePassion, a website featuring the latest news, reviews and interviews in the romance world. She’s a longtime romance reader, a new Kindle owner, and a junkie for USA TV shows. She loves marriage of convenience plots and angst ridden breakups that ultimately end up in gooey happily ever afters. You can follow Keira on Twitter as ReviewRomance.

These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2009)
Trade paperback (384) pages
ISBN: 978-1402219474

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 03 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of These Old Shades, 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 03   Aug 04 – Review: The Masqueraders
Day 04   Aug 06 – Review: Devil’s Cub
Day 04   Aug 06 – Review: The Convenient Marriage
Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: Regency Buck

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

Powder and Patch, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Lucy of Enchanted by Josephine

I’ve only begun reading Heyer’s books as of late last year and can honestly say that so far every single one has been a source of pure delight.  No surprise – Powder and Patch followed suit in keeping me well entertained.  This book, sweet, short, hilarious, with its oh-so-French flair was completed in one sitting.

The book is about Philip Jettan, son to the extravagant Maurice and nephew of Tom.  The latter are both highly fashionable men, who are well known in high society; whereas the good-natured, but somewhat simpleton and rough-on-the-edges Philip, leaves much to be desired.

Philip is, however, the loving flame of Cleone, a neighborhood friend and great beauty.  Cleone, along with the rest of Philip’s small family, all agree that the young man should get a make-over to improve his style, fashion sense, etiquette and social skills. Philip is not too keen on this and believes he should be loved for who he is.  He makes a strong point- Except that things change dramatically when a certain Bancroft comes to town…

Bankroft is handsome, well-mannered, sophisticated, well-versed, and ever so fashionable.  He also has a way with the ladies, and Cleone notices him immediately.  She is seemingly swooned by Bancroft who pays gracious attention to her every need.  Philip notices this but believes that Cleone is his sweetheart and that no one can ever come between them.  Cleone admits that she loves Philip but will not take him as he is…he definitely needs refining.  She would love him to be more romantic and worldly.

The decision is taken by both father and uncle – Philip is to go to France to become more civilized and worldly.  Philip, enflamed by jealousy, finally agrees, and off he goes to Paris.  There, a huge transformation takes place.  Elegance to the max, Philip is the center of all attention- no party is worth going if he’s not present. He’s got style, class, fashion…and, a way with words that makes every woman want to be with him.

When he comes back to England, he is a changed man.  But Philip wants to know if Cleone really loves the man, or the powder.  It is a struggle of wits, suitors for Cleone, love games, jealous rants and more.  Cleone is not used to this man who is no longer simple…intriguing to the max, she cannot resist him, yet she will not succumb.  What will happen?  Do they end up together or will Cleone marry another?

I loved this sweet story filled with old French sayings that I hadn’t heard in years (Salipopette!) the details in fashion and Phillip’s mundane experiences were totally amusing.  The characters are also perfectly suited to the story.  Heyer brings in Louis XV, la Pompadour and other figures of the times to further immerse us into a world of glamour, extravagance and fun – all precisely intended to heighten Phillips magnificent make-over.  The setting, the language, the story; everything about this book makes it an extremely enjoyable read.

Read an excerpt at Scribd

Lucy hosts Enchanted by Josephine – a blog dedicated to history, historical fiction, Venice… and of course, Empress Josephine.  Lucy lives in Montreal where she works as a Language Consultant-Teacher.  Her hobbies include reading, writing, historical research and creating art. You can follow her on Twitter as EnchbyJosephine.

Powder and Patch, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2010)
Trade paperback (192) pages
ISBN: 978-1402219498

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 02 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Powder and Patch, by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks, 2010) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about the French flair in this novel, or if you have read it, who your favorites characters are 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 03    Aug 04 – Review: These Old Shades
Day 03    Aug 04 – Review: The Masqueraders
Day 04    Aug 06 – Review: Devils Cub
Day 02    Aug 06 – Review: The Convenient Marriage

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

The Black Moth, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Aarti of Book Lust

The Black Moth was Georgette Heyer’s first novel, written while she was a teenager.  She uses updated versions of some of the characters in her more popular novel These Old Shades. Set in mid-1700’s England, an earl has passed away, and his eldest son must be found to impart the news.  The son, Jack Carstares, however, was disgraced six years ago when he accepted blame that should have been his younger brother’s for cheating at cards.  After years abroad, John is now “working” as a highwayman in Surrey.  His younger brother Richard has aged unnaturally since the cheating incident and is married to a temperamental beauty who is likely to bankrupt him and possibly leave him for another man.

And then there is the dangerous and enigmatic Duke of Andover (known as “the Devil”) who is pulling all the strings (particularly those attached to the purse).  He falls so deeply in love with the lovely young Diana Beauleigh that he attempts a kidnapping, only to be foiled by Jack Carstares.  This sets off a chain of events that changes everyone’s lives in dramatic (and thoroughly entertaining) ways until everyone is sorted out and settled to live happily ever after.

Though I have long been a Georgette Heyer fan, I never read The Black Moth because I don’t like These Old Shades.  Why read the precursor to a book I didn’t enjoy?  When Sourcebooks offered me this one to review, I accepted because I felt it was time I read Heyer’s first book.  I’m glad I did so for my own sake, but as I expected, The Black Moth is nowhere near my favorite Heyer novel.

Heyer writes very authentic to her period, littering her stories with slang and references to gentlemen’s clubs and gardens that most modern readers would not understand.  The Black Moth is no exception and the quirks of language (using “an” instead of “if,” for example) can make it difficult to establish a reading rhythm.  Also, there are very few characters in this novel with whom it is easy to sympathize.  Jack and Diana are intelligent and funny and beautiful, and some of the minor characters are fun, too, but most of them were hard to like.  And the plot is just so dramatic and swashbuckling that it was easy to believe Heyer wrote this book as a teen.

I appreciated this novel more for the insight it gave me into Heyer’s writing than for the story itself.  You can see glimpses of the style Heyer will evoke in all her novels here- the witty manservant, the bumbling inn keeper, the hero who appears to be a fashionable fop but is actually quite intelligent and sharp, the selfish and profligate beauty, the wicked but strangely attractive villain… it’s all here!

Another aspect of Heyer’s storytelling that I find fascinating is the psychological beliefs held at the time.  For example, the Duke of Andover’s whole family spends well beyond their means and has to beg, borrow and steal money from others to meet “debts of honor” (gambling debts).  But they never seem to make any effort to improve themselves, instead blaming it on flaws in the family character and cheerfully continuing to pile on debt after debt.  Heyer strongly believed that some people were born to be rich and some were born to be poor, or that some were born to be Gentlemen and some were born to be Commoners, and that never the two ‘ere meet.   It’s interesting to see that at play even in her earliest novel.

So while I recommend Georgette Heyer’s historicals and mysteries to anyone with a love for witty dialogue, light romance and an authentic setting, I would not recommend starting with The Black Moth.  Rather, read some of her other works first and then come back to this one later to see where she started and how she developed.  It’s more fun that way because while the story is entertaining, it’s not her best.

Aarti has been sharing her love affair with reading on her blog Book Lust since 2005. She enjoys many different types of books, but admits that she reads more in the fantasy and historical fiction genres than most others. She has a true passion for Georgian and Regency England, spending much of high school feeding on Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. In addition to hosting weekly guest posts on Book Lust she is one of four blog administrators for the Spotlight Series, a blog for small press publishers which brings attention to small publishers that lack a large marketing budget but still put out fabulous books. You can also follow her on Twitter as aartichapati.

The Black Moth, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2009)
Trade paperback (355) pages
ISBN: 978-1402219528

‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’: Day 02 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of The Black Moth, by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks, 2009) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about reading Heyer’s first novel, or if you have read it, who your favorites characters are 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 02    Aug 02 – Review: Powder and Patch
Day 03    Aug 04 – Review: These Old Shades
Day 03    Aug 04 – Review: The Masqueraders
Day 04    Aug 06 – Review: Devils Cub

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

The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer (2009)First published in 1950, The Grand Sophy contains one of Georgette Heyer’s most endearingly outrageous heroines. In this newly released reissue by Sourcebooks, you are in for a rollicking good time through Regency era London with Miss Sophia Stanton-Lacy. As one of her many male admirers proclaims, “By all that is wonderful, it’s the Grand Sophy!”  Too true. 

A diplomat’s daughter, Sophy has traveled the Continent with her widowed father Sir Horace Stanton-Lacy following the British army in their pursuit of Napoleon during the Peninsular War. Two years have passed since the Monster of Elba was finally defeated and Sir Horace’s duties now take him abroad to South America. He feels it is time for Sophy to marry, and who better than to present his motherless daughter to London society than his amiable sister, Lady Ombersley. But, will her eldest son Charles approve? Things in her dysfunctional family are so oddly arranged. Her indifferent husband Bernard Rivenhall, Lord Ombersley has run through his fortune, and now relies on his eldest son Charles, who inherited another estate, to pay his debts and finance his household. Charles, known for his ill temper and tight pocketbook, is engaged to equally priggish young woman, Miss Eugenia Wraxton, whose rigid grasp on social stricture is at odds with everyone who she deigns to look down her very long equine nose at. Lady Ombersley’s beautiful young daughter Cecilia should marry the very eligible and wealthy Lord Charlbury, but prefers instead the handsome poet Augustus Fawnhope whose odds at fame and fortune are slim as his picking a Derby winner. Her second son Hurbert, whose moods sway with the tides of his debt, is ensconced with dubious money-lenders and in need of extraction. They all live a dull life according to Charles’s autocratic commands. If ever there was a family in need of a make-over, the Rivenhall’s present a tall bill.  

Enter The Grand Sophy. Quick, intelligent and exuberantly capable, twenty-year old Sophy is a bracing reveille to her cousin’s the Rivenhall’s staid existence at Berkeley Square. From the moment she arrives on her aunt’s doorstep elegantly attired with her entourage of a dog, a horse, a monkey, a parrot, a groom, a maid and a mountain of luggage, they are left with no uncertainty that this is no ordinary young lady. Outspoken and unafraid to stretch the edge of decorum, Miss Stanton-Lacy sizes up the household’s problems and sets about to make them right, much to the chagrin of her cousin Charles and his meddlesome fiancée Miss Wraxton, who thinks she’s a hoyden. Sophy is fearless in the face of propriety venturing beyond the constraints of the Regency women’s world visiting banks, buying horses, a Phaeton carriage, and planning and paying for her coming out Ball, all the while pushing her cousin Charles’ buttons at every turn. Their repartees are absolutely hilarious – Sophy almost always in command of the final outcome – and Charles not knowing what hit him. Life as the Rivenhall’s had known it has been quite undone. Along the way, Sophy has a great deal of fun, and so do we. 

Life at Berkeley Square had become all at once full of fun and excitement. Even Lord Ombersley was aware of it. “By God, I don’t know what’s come over you all, for the place was used to be as lively as a tomb!”

Visiting Regency London is always a treat through Georgette Heyer’s astute eye. Her historical references are quite amazing. The descriptions of clothing, fabrics and furnishing were sumptuous. Her attention to the details of Regency carriages and horsemanship, was spot on. The plot kept me turning pages quickly, eager to see what Sophy’s next antic would be, and which couples would be together by the conclusion of the novel. Through Sophy’s exuberant personality we meet a heroine whose qualities of self assurance, conviction and zest for life are infectious. I had to laugh out loud when even the stuffy Rivenhall butler Dassett acknowledged that Sophy is a gem. 

“I venture to say, she is a lady as knows precisely how things should be done. A great pleasure, if I may be pardoned the liberty, to work for Miss Sophy, for she thinks of everything, and I fancy there will be no hitch to mar the festivities.” 

Yes, The Grand Sophy knows precisely how things should be done, and I would not have it any other way. This was by far my most enjoyable read this year. Fun, engaging and hilarious, I can not recommend it more highly. Sophy is a devilishly fine girl. 

5 out of 5 Regency Stars 

Original cover of The Grand Sophy, Book Club Editon by Philip Gough (1951)The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks Casablanca (2009)
Trade paperback (372) pages
ISBN: 978-1402218941 

Additional Reviews 

Enter a chance to win one of five copies of The Grand Sophy and a set of ten Georgette Heyer novels at Jane Austen Today. The contest ends on July 31st, 2009.

Friday’s Child, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Friday's Child, by Georgette Heyer (2008)After years of hearing the praises of author Georgette Heyer, I could no longer resist the temptation and dove in head first on the recommendation of Heyer enthusiast Vic (Ms. Place) of Jane Austen’s World, selecting the author’s favorite book Friday’s Child. Since Heyer published 56 books over 53 years, she had a few to choose from and I was confident that this neophyte would have one of the better novels to begin my indoctrination. I now see what all the fuss is about. Georgette Heyer is a treasure. 

Spendthrift Anthony Verelst, Viscount Sheringham doesn’t give a fig about his finances until his creditors do. Selfish, impetuous and deeply in debt, he is unable to access his inheritance until he reaches 25 or marries and sets out to acquire a wife proposing to his neighbor and lifelong friend Isabella Milborne, an ‘Incomparable’, whose beauty and elegance are renown. She doesn’t think much of the idea or of Lord Sheringham’s dissipated lifestyle and rebuffs the offer. Indignant, he swears to marry the next girl he sees who happens to be seventeen year old Hero Wantage, the neighborhood orphan Cinderella living with cousins who want to farm her out to be a governess. By no means a scholar, Hero is miffed by the work plan just wanting to have a bit of fun and enjoy the charms of society in London. Seizing the opportunity, Hero accepts Sherry’s proposal and they run away to London to be married. It is here we are introduced to the real heart of the story, Sherry’s three male friends: his two cousins steady Gilbert (Gil) Ringwood and the foppish Hon. Ferdinand (Ferdy) Fakenham, and his hot headed friend George, Lord Wrotham who form sort of a bumbling bachelors club of Regency society dandies. Their influence drives the story as they help Hero (nicknamed Kitten) unschooled in the nuances of social etiquette and a bit lacking in common sense out of all sorts of scrapes that threaten her reputation and infuriate her husband who in turn is as equally clueless about his own responsibilities as a newly married man. 

Heyer gives us a delightful view of Regency era London with its social outlets for the rich: fashion, dancing, parties, gambling, romantic intrigues, and the gambit of other frivolous extravagances that entertain the high society ‘ton’ world. Her characters are each distinctive in personality and well drawn out. The three bachelor friends were especially enjoyable as their priceless dialogue humorously captures that uniquely British drawing room chatter of “I dare says” and “dash it alls” that at times from other authors seems trite, but in this case just lifted the colloquial credibility and ambience. Even though this novel was written over sixty years ago, it is surprisingly superior in style and creativity to many being produced today. Friday’s Child reads like an expertly paced stage play, and I felt the influence of Heyer’s contemporaries in playwrights Noel Coward and George Bernard Shaw in the satirical social commentary and humorous biting dialogues. There were a few holes in the plot such as Sherry’s concerns over his uncle’s abuse of the trusteeship of his estate not materializing or Hero’s continual naïveté among others, but they were very minor and did not spoil my enjoyment. The gradual maturity and transition by both protagonists gave for a rewarding end. It is easy to see why so many Jane Austen fans adore Georgette Heyer as they share in the sisterhood of the ‘Gentle Reprove Society’ of comedic social satire. Friday’s Child matched it’s namesake from the old nursery rhyme as loving and giving, and critics marginalizing Heyer’s works as mere romances take heed. Like Austen’s novels, this is so much more than Chicklit. 

5 out of 5 Regency Stars 

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

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