Bath Tangle, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Bath Tangle, by Georgette Heyer (2011)Guest review by Laura A. Wallace: 

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

Bath Tangle, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Deb Barnum of Jane Austen in Vermont

I first encountered Georgette Heyer’s Bath Tangle via audio and I was enchanted – the head-strong Hero and Heroine, not always likable, at odds with each other from page one – so I was delighted to read the book when Laurel Ann asked me to do this review – another Heyer, another cast of characters, and an abundance of Regency settings to savor!

Serena Carlow, 25, a titian-haired beauty, strong-willed, headstrong, accomplished*, daring and tempestuous, certainly anything but “serene”, has suddenly lost her father, the Earl of Spenborough.  He leaves a twenty-two-year-old wife, no male heir with his estate passing to a cousin, and a will that provides for Serena’s fortune to be under the trusteeship of the Marquis of Rotherham.  Fanny, now the widowed Lady Spenborough, a young girl, barely out of the schoolroom when she was pledged to the 47-year-old Earl against her will, is well-named – Austen’s Fanny Price looms over this character.  Though of a shy, retiring disposition and propriety-bound, she and Serena, so very different, have forged a true friendship – they move together to the Dower House, leaving the cousin and wife, a la the John Dashwoods in Sense & Sensibility, to take over the Earl’s entire estate. Serena is left with an allowance, her fortune of 10,000 pounds a year to be passed to her only upon her marriage to a man approved by Rotherham …which of course, sends Serena “up into the boughs.”

Major back story, as in Persuasion:  Serena and Rotherham were betrothed three years before, her father’s wish, but Serena crying-off shortly before the ceremony because “they did not suit”.  Rotherham is, after all, a harsh and arrogant fellow, with an “imperious and tyrannical disposition”, “high in the instep”, barely even handsome [but he has great hands! and those powerful shoulders!] – they do their “dagger-drawing” from page one and while they may not think they suit, we know quite differently, that they are meant for each other, everyone else paling in comparison…..[Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew comes to mind!] Continue reading