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
Trade paperback (352) pages
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