The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Ana of An Evening at Almack’s

I have been a long time fan of Georgette Heyer. I first read some of books while a teenager in translated versions and now, as an adult, I have been collecting them in the original English thanks to Arrow and Sourcebooks who made them readily available everywhere.

The Talisman Ring was one of the books that I read more recently. A mixed story, part romance / part mystery, it sees two couples searching around for a family jewel to exonerate one of the heroes from a murder charge. To make a long story short, Sir Tristam Shield and Eustacie de Vauban are ordered by their great granduncle and grandfather respectively to embark on a marriage of convenience to guarantee Eustacie’s wellbeing and status in life after the old man dies. But Eustacie is a lively and romantic girl who finds Sir Tristam a stuffy unromantic old man and decides to run away to become a governess. On the road she finds her cousin Ludovic, her grandfather’s heir who has been on the run for the past two years after having been suspected of murdering a man on the night his favourite jewel – the talisman ring – disappeared. Ludovic is now a free trader, which seems utterly adventurous and romantic to Eustacie, and after an encounter with the excise men he is hurt and they find shelter at a nearby inn. There they find Lady Sarah Thane, a young woman who travels with her brother and seems to have an original sense of humour, and that’s where Sir Tristam eventually finds them. With Eustacie and Ludovic on their way to falling in love the four set out to find the jewel and prove his innocence.

I must admit that this is not one of my favourite Heyers. I think the story, as a mystery, looses pace because of the romance and all those secondary characters – the free traders, the excise men, the Bow Street Runners – and as a romance looses interest because so much time is devoted to finding the jewel. I think I am more used to those Heyer romances where we find sparkling and witty dialogue between the main characters, where the funny coincidences make for laugh out loud moments and where we have closure in the end. Here, although there are some funny moments they are not so sparkling and witty, and while the story ends with one couple engaged, the other doesn’t get the same king of closure, although everything indicates that they will do so too.

I did like Lady Sarah Thane and Sir Tristam Shield very much. To the point where I would have loved to have the book devoted solely to them. In a way, because they are an older couple they reminded me of Abby and Miles from The Black Sheep which I greatly enjoyed. If only we had seen more of them I am sure that we had been gifted with some witty dialogues. Eustacie seemed a bit too young and, well, silly. I have been fond of other young heroines like Horry and Leonie and I have forgiven them their silly naiveté because of their wonderful heroes but here I must confess that Ludovic was not a favourite with me either. He seemed impulsive and extravagant but oh so perfect for Eustacie who only wanted a husband to ride “ventre a terre” to her death bed.

But don’t be discouraged by my review, lots of Heyer fans seem to love this story so my advice to you is try it and see. There are a lot of farcical moments and if nothing else it will definitely put you in a good mood.

The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2009)
Trade paperback (316) pages
ISBN: 978-1402217715

Ana has always been a reader. Her first love is historical fiction, be it romance, mystery or general fiction, if it’s historical she is happy! She also loves to discuss books with other readers and that’s why she started blogging. You can usually find her at one of the following blogs Aneca’s World, An Evening at Almacks , Historical Tapestry and Lights, Camera… History!. You can follow Ana on Twitter as Aneca.

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 05 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of The Talisman Ring, 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 06    Aug 09 – Review: An Infamous Army
Day 06    Aug 09 – Review: The Spanish Bride
Day 07    Aug 11 – Review: The Corinthian
Day 07    Aug 11 – Review: Faro’s Daughter

 

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

Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for March

Jane Austen Selected Letters, Oxford World's Classics (2009)The Jane Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that Austen inspired books are heading our way in March, so keep your eyes open for these new titles. 

Austen’s Oeuvre 

Selected Letters of Jane Austen (Oxford Worlds Classics) 

Oxford University Press continues to re-issue their stable of Oxford World’s Classics including all of Austen’s major novels last year, Catharine and other Writings last January and now her Selected Letters edited by scholar Vivien Jones. This edition includes nearly two-thirds of Austen’s surviving correspondence, and Jones’ lively introduction and helpful notes. Publisher’s description. In one of her personal letters, Jane Austen wrote “Little Matters they are to be sure, but highly important.” In fact, letter-writing was something of an addiction for young women of Jane Austen’s time and in her social position, and Austen’s letters have a freedom and familiarity that only intimate writing can convey. Wiser than her critics, who were disappointed that her correspondence dwelt on gossip and the minutiae of everyday living, Austen understood the importance of “Little Matters,” of the emotional and material details of individual lives shared with friends and family through the medium of the letter. Ironic, acerbic, always entertaining, Jane Austen’s letters are a fascinating record not only of her own day-to-day existence, but of the pleasures and frustrations experienced by women of her social class which are so central to her novels. 

Trade paperback, Oxford Worlds Classics, ISBN: 978-0199538430 

Fiction (prequels, sequels, retellings, variations, or Regency inspired) 

Confession fo a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler (2009) UK editionConfessions of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler 

Great news for UK readers! You will now know what all the Janeite laughter has been about in the Colonies since 2007 when Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict hits your shore on March 16th. Here is the publisher’s description. Courtney Stone – sassy, smart and suddenly single – has always felt she might have been better suited to life in Jane Austen’s England. She senses that she would have found soul mates in Emma and Elinor, and through good times and bad S&S and P&P have been her secret under-the-duvet pleasures. One evening, having drifted off to sleep after self-medicating with pizza, Absolut, and Elizabeth and Darcy, Courtney wakes up in nineteenth-century England, in the bed (not to mention the slim and svelte body) of a girl called Jane Mansfield. At first she thinks this has to be some sort of weird dream, but slowly she becomes used to the absence of toothpaste and fat-free food, and finds herself actually enjoying Jane’s life. Perhaps she could do without her wicked new ‘mother’ who wants to marry Jane off as soon as possible to the nearest wealthy man although this may not be such a bad thing, as the nearest wealthy man just happens to be the very dishy Charles Edgeworth. But, in becoming Jane, Courtney has left some important unfinished business behind, and she soon realises that in order to return to the present day she needs not only to solve the riddle of Jane and Charles but to get to grips with her own twenty-first-century relationship phobias along the way. A laugh-out-loud romp with a Regency heart, this delightful debut is a truly modern comedy of manners. 

Hardcover, Bloomsbury Publishing, London, ISBN: 978-0747594215 

Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, by Sharon Lathan (2009)Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, by Sharon Lathan 

Did you love the sweeping romanticized 2005 adaptation Pride & Prejudice? If so, you might enjoy this new sequel of the movie based on Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice which continues Elizabeth and Darcy’s life as newlyweds in all its enthusiastic  romantic splendor. Publisher’s description: Elizabeth and Darcy are positively goo-goo eyes for each other and the burgeoning love and closeness between them drives the plot. As the narrative unfolds through the honeymoon and then the challenges of Elizabeth assuming the role of Mistress of Pemberley, Darcy and Elizabeth thoroughly reveal their differing points of view of how their relationship blossomed from misunderstanding to perfect understanding. As the couple grows in maturity and understanding, as they accustom themselves to each other and to married life, Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy emerges as a fascinating portrait of a deep and passionate marriage. 

Trade paperback, Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN: 978-1402215230 

Sandition: Jane Austen's Masterpiece Continued, by Jane Austen & Juliette Shapiro (2009)Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Unfinished Masterpiece Completed, by Jane Austen & Juliette Shapiro 

Jane Austen’s last writing endeavor before her death in 1817 was Sandition. Many other authors over the years have attempted to complete it. Here is author Juliette Shapiro’s contribution in this nice new edition from Ulysses Press. Publisher’s description. Had Jane Austen lived to complete Sanditon, it would undoubtedly be as famous and treasured as her other novels. But unfinished at her death, the masterpiece has remained mysterious and overlooked. Now, author Juliette Shapiro has completed Sanditon in a vivid style recognizable to any Austen fan. Here is the story of Charlotte Heywood, who has recently arrived in the town of Sanditon to enjoy the benefits of the ocean air. At first, Charlotte finds amusement enough standing at her ample Venetian window looking over its placid seafront and salubrious ocean, wind-blown linens and sparkling sea. But there is much more to this promising little coastal resort. Before long, Charlotte discovers that scandals abound. To the delight of her eccentric host Mr. Parker, she becomes captivated by the romance of the seaside lifestyle. But is the town of Sanditon truly the haven that Mr. Parker likes to think it is, and will Charlotte Parker find happiness here? 

Trade paperback, Ulysses Press, ISBN: 978-1569756218 

The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer (2009)The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer 

First published in 1936, the incomparable Georgette Heyer presents a romantic comedy thriller counterpointing a young and older couple, a devise that she would continue to use throughout her writing career. Here is a plot summary from Wikipedia. On his deathbed, Baron Lavenham arranges a marriage between his great-nephew, Sir Tristram Shield, and his young French granddaughter, Eustacie de Vauban. His grandson and heir, Ludovic, is on the run on the Continent, after allegedly murdering a man in a dispute over a valuable heirloom, the talisman ring. The romantic Eustacie, appalled by her betrothed’s phlegmatic character, runs away and soon encounters a smuggler, who turns out to be her cousin Ludovic. The two take refuge at a local inn, after Ludovic is injured escaping from Excisemen. There they encounter an older lady, Miss Sarah Thane, who vows to help them. The subsequent plot revolves around proving Ludovic’s innocence by finding the missing ring and unmasking the real murderer. 

Trade paperback, Sourcebooks, Casablanca, ISBN: 978-1402217715 

Nonfiction 

Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen, by Jennifer Grillone (2009)Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen, by Jennifer Adams 

Jane Austen has often been quoted for her pithy and sarcastic witticism, now the tables are turned as writers and others have their say on Jane Austen’s works and life. In this new beautifully package gift quality volume, author and editor Jennifer Adams acknowledges one of the most beloved and influential English novelists of all time. Publisher’s description. Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen offers one hundred quotations on Austen and her writing from well-known authors, critics, intellectuals, and the actors and directors of film adaptations of her novels. The book features writers from J. K. Rowling, Ian McEwan, Anna Quindlen, and P. D. James to Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain, C. S. Lewis, and Harper Lee. It also includes quotations from such favorite actors as Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson, James McAvoy, and Colin Firth. Insightful, pithy, and often illuminating, these quotations give you a glimpse into why Austen is considered by many to be the greatest writer in the English language second only to Shakespeare. 

Hardcover, Gibbs Smith, ISBN: 978-1423604785 

Austen’s contemporaries  

Waverley: or 'Tis Sixty Years Since (Oxford World's Classics), Walter Scott (2009)Waverley: or ‘Tis Sixty Years Since (Oxford World’s Classics), by Sir Walter Scott

In 1814, Jane Austen wrote to her friend Anna  Lefroy; “Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones. It is not fair. He has fame and profit enough as a poet, and should not be taking the bread out of the mouths of other people. I do not like him, and do not mean to like “Waverly” if I can help it, but fear I must.” Previous to its publication in 1814, Walter Scott had been primarily known as a poet, so when Austen read his first novel, she had good reason to be concerned about his talents challenging other authors royalties! It was an immediate success prompting Scott to continue writing historical novels which he is now most remembered for. Publisher’s description. Generally regarded as the first historical novel, Walter Scott’s Waverley; or, ‘Tis Sixty Years Since is set during the Jacobite rising in Scotland in 1745, this novel springs from Scott’s childhood recollections and his desire to preserve in writing the features of life in the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland. Waverley was first published anonymously in 1814 and was Scott’s first novel.

Trade paperback Oxford World’s Classics, ISBN: 978-0199538027 

Bride of Lammermore, Oxford World's Classic, by Sir Walter Scott (2009)The Bride of Lammermoor (Oxford World’s Classics), Sir Walter Scott 

The Bride of Lammermoor is an historical novel based on an actual incident in the history of the Dalrymple family of Scotland set in the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714). Along with A Legend of Montrose, it forms the third series of Scott’s Tales of My Landlord; the two novels were published together in 1819. The story was also the inspiration for one of my favorite operas, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. Publisher’s description: The plans of Edgar, Master of Ravenswood to regain his ancient family estate from the corrupt Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland are frustrated by the complexities of the legal and political situations following the 1707 Act of Union, and by his passion for his enemy’s beautiful daughter Lucy. First published in 1819, this intricate and searching romantic tragedy offers challenging insights into emotional and sexual politics, and demonstrates the shrewd way in which Scott presented his work as historical document, entertainment, and work of art. 

Trade paperback Oxford World’s Classics, ISBN: 978-0199552504 

Until next month, happy reading! 

Laurel Ann