Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer (2011)Guest review by Laura A. Wallace

Georgette Heyer’s Sprig Muslin is one of her most entertaining Regency novels.  It is a “road book,” full of adventures, comical situations, and fun characters.

At the outset, I must beg anyone who leaves a comment to avoid spoilers.  New readers should have the pleasure of discovering Amanda’s antics, their consequences, and who feels what for whom, on their own.

Sir Gareth Ludlow is one of society’s best-loved bachelors.  We first meet him calling upon his sister, whose offspring consider his visit to be a high treat:

Watching him, as he contrived, while displaying over and over again for the edification of little Philip the magical properties of his repeating watch, to lend an ear to the particular problem exercising Leigh’s mind, Mrs Wetherby thought that you would be hard put to it to find a more attractive man, and wished, as she had done a thousand times before, that she could discover some bride for him lovely enough to drive out of his heart the memory of his dead love. . . but she had never been able to detect in his gray eyes so much as a flicker of the look that had warmed them when they had rested on Clarissa Lincombe.

Clarissa had been beautiful, vivacious, and headstrong.  She and Gareth were considered a perfect couple—and so they were, until she managed to break her neck in a carriage accident, trying to prove her mettle by driving Gareth’s spirited horses without permission.  Seven years later, he has never fallen in love again, and come to the conclusion that he must marry without it.  So he decides to offer for one of his oldest friends, the Lady Hester Theale, who is as unlike Clarissa as it is possible to be.

But on his way to pay his addresses to Lady Hester at her father’s country seat, he encounters, quite by chance, a very young but resourceful and determined lady named Amanda, who has run away from home and has a remarkable facility for making up stories.  She is obviously an innocent girl, and Gareth reluctantly takes charge of her, with the intention of restoring her to her family.  Unfortunately, she refuses to tell him her name, so he resolves to take her to London and entrust her to his sister’s care until he can discover her identity.  But in the meantime, he takes her to Lady Hester, knowing he can rely upon her kindness to allow her to stay overnight, and so she does.  But Amanda runs away, and their highly entertaining adventures form the rest of the novel.

The people they encounter during their travels, from the Hon. Fabian Theale, Hester’s uncle, to Hildebrand Ross, a young gentleman who is a poet, enjoying his first Long Vacation on his own, to Barnabas Vinehall, who was a friend of Gareth’s father, the cast of secondary characters help them along in what would film (if only we could be so lucky and someone would write the screenplay) as a classic screwball comedy, or perhaps an Oscar Wilde play.

This novel shows Heyer’s skills at the top of her form, with a tight plot, delightful and deftly-drawn characters, plenty of wit and humor, and an ensemble ending second only to those in The Grand Sophy and The Unknown Ajax.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (304) pages
ISBN: 978-1402255496

Laura A. Wallace a musician, attorney, and writer living in Southeast Texas.  She is a devotee of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer and is the author of British Titles of Nobility:  An Introduction and Primer to the Peerage (1998).

© 2007 – 2011 Laura A. Wallace, Austenprose

Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Laura Gerold of Laura’s Reviews

Sprig Muslin is a light and funny Regency novel that showcases Georgette Heyer’s wit. I really enjoyed it and it made me laugh out loud several times!  Sprig Muslin was first published in 1956, but the novel is set in 1813.  The main action of the novel takes place in London, Chatteris (in the Fenland District of Cambridgeshire, England) and the roads in between.

This novel tells the tale of Sir Gareth Ludlow. His high spirited fiancée died in an accident many years previous to the start of the novel. Gary has decided he will never find love again and to just marry a friend, Lady Hester Theale, for convenience. Lady Hester is 29 and labeled an old maid – she also has ideas of her own about getting married!

On the way to propose to Lady Hester, Gary meets up with a young girl, Miss Amanda “Smith.” Miss Smith is in a local inn scandalously without a chaperone. Gary decides to chaperone her until he can find out her true identity and family. Hilarity ensues, especially with all of Amanda’s tales and adventures. The scrapes and misunderstandings were fantastic!

The version of Sprig Muslin that I read contained a forward from bestselling author Linda Lael Miller. I’d recommend skipping the foreword until you’ve read the novel. Miller basically tells the entire plot before you start the novel without giving any insight.

Sprig Muslin contains many of the elements that I love about Georgette Heyer novels. She has a quick wit to her writing and it is set in the Regency period, a time that I love to read about.  Heyer’s characters are wonderful well rounded beings.  In this novel in particular, I love that Gary is a wealthy, romantic man that is more than willing to do the right thing and help Miss Smith, but seems to really misunderstand Lady Hester.  Lady Hester herself is introduced by other characters as being a somewhat mousy lady that is “on the shelf”.  I really enjoyed seeing her character developed through the novel into a strong and independent lady on her own.  It was interesting in this novel as it explored a more mature love that arises from friendship with slightly “older” characters.  Juxtaposed with the young, impetuous Amanda Smith and her first flush of love, it made for an interesting contrast.

Overall, Sprig Muslin is vintage Heyer with great characters, great setting, and great humor.

Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer
Harlequin (2009)
Trade paperback (288) pages
ISBN: 978-0373773862

Laura Gerold first fell in love with reading when her Great-Grandma Kile gave her the Little House on the Prairie series when she was eight.  She has been unable to stop her reading addiction ever since, and discovered the regency world in her teens with Jane Austen’s wonderful novels.  About five years ago, Laura discovered Georgette Heyer’s novels and was excited to find such a wonderful “new” author that really brought the regency world to life.  She is a water resources engineer and mother of two, but loves to write about her reading obsession on Laura’s Reviews, a blog she started in 2007.

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 13 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer (Harlequin, 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 13   Aug 22 – Review: April Lady
Day 14   Aug 23 – Review: Sylvester
Day 14   Aug 23 – Review: Venetia
Day 15   Aug 25 – Review: The Unknown Ajax

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