A Civil Contract is an atypical Georgette Heyer novel. While the setting is firmly Regency, beginning at the time of the Battle of Orthez (February 1814) and ending with that of Waterloo (June 1815), it is neither lively nor witty. It is a quiet book, with a love story that grows gradually, without any sparkle or adventure. The eponymous contract is a marriage contract between an impoverished, newly-acceded peer and a wealthy “Cit” (Citizen of the City of London)’s daughter. It is an inauspicious beginning: the aristocrat is in love with someone else, the bride is homely, and the Cit is vulgar.
However, what follows is a sensitive, nuanced exploration of human relationships that from today’s perspective may seem almost quaint: commitment, respect, duty, honor, fidelity, civility, resentment, and generosity. I say “quaint” because the most cursory glance at current divorce and familial Continue reading “A Civil Contract, by Georgette Heyer – A Review”