One of the things about Georgette Heyer is that the question “which of her books is your favorite?” tends to invoke a response corresponding to: “whichever one I am reading now.” Every time I reread one of her novels, I am always amazed at how fresh it is, even though I already know the plot; how exquisite the writing; how beautifully delineated the characters; and, perhaps most of all, the breadth and depth of understanding of the manners, customs, and language of the world she wrote about.
So it is with Bath Tangle. The plot is well crafted, sometimes with the intricacy of a country dance, but if one didn’t know that Heyer was writing a century and a half after Austen, one might be forgiven for mistaking them as contemporaries. She clearly drew from Austen, but her treatments always feel original.
To take just one example, from a scene early in the novel: a single nobleman of immense fortune (ten times the consequence of a mere Mr. Darcy) indulges his female relations by yielding to their persuasions to escort them to a country Assembly. He has done so with the ulterior motive of flirting a little with a naïve young miss he has recently met, but after standing up for the first two dances with her, and finding her conversation to have descended from artless confidences to monosyllables, he turns, bored, to the card room, and then slips away (hoping to avoid the notice of his sister) to go pay a duty call of leave-taking on an old friend, because he is going away the next day. But this friend takes him severely to task for his behavior: Continue reading