Book reviews

Posts tagged ‘Georgette Heyer’

April Lady by Georgette Heyer

April Lady by Georgette Heyer was a delight from start to finish.

The story of beautiful and young Lady Nell Cardross whose family were known for being gamblers and wastrels, and her relationship with her older, masterful husband after a series of miscommunications left them doubting each other in every way was always going to end with a kiss, but how they got from the start to the finish of this story was fun.

After enjoying a comfortable arrangement for many years with a lady who wasn’t a lady, Lord Giles fell in love with seventeen-year old Nell at first sight, paid off the worst of Nell’s father’s spectacular gambling debts and married her. However Nell, who had also fallen in love with Lord Giles, was unfailing polite and amiable towards her husband but never showed him how she truly felt after her mother warned her not to in case she bored him.

Nell had no idea of how to manage money so spent a ridiculous amount of the generous allowance Giles made to her on dresses, hats and reticules, then against her husband’s explicit orders gave her brother Dysart a large sum to tide him over when he got into trouble.

On learning that Nell hadn’t been paying her bills Lord Giles called her to task before settling her accounts, leaving Nell feeling embarrassed and ashamed of herself, much like a small child who has gotten into trouble from their parent.

When Nell later received a staggeringly large bill for a court dress that she had forgotten to tell Lord Giles about, instead of telling her husband the truth she asked Dysart and his rackety friend to help her to raise the money, which allowed the story to leap from Nell almost going to the money-lenders (shocking!), to Dysart attempting a hold-up so he could steal the Cardross family jewels then sell them so Nell could pay her debts (even more shocking!)

Having caught Nell in several little white lies Lord Giles began to suspect that Nell had only married him for his money and, feeling humiliated and broken-hearted, was increasingly civil and cold to poor little Nell.

The supporting characters added enormously to this story. As well as Nell’s brother Dysart they included Lord Giles’ headstrong younger sister who was madly in love with a young man without any money and Lord Giles’ cousin, Mr Felix Hethersett, who acted as if he were Nell’s lover but was in reality her strongest supporter. Felix’s comments on fashion, particularly when providing advice to the female characters were priceless.

April Lady probably isn’t one of Georgette Heyer’s better stories, but even so, it was fun and there is no one like this author for historical romance, plus I’m a sucker for a happy ending.

Faro’s Daughter by Georgette Heyer

Faro’s Daughter by Georgette Heyer was a comfort read for me. It’s a book I’ve read several times before and will no doubt enjoy again in future.

A friend from school started me on Georgette Heyer’s novels when we were around twelve years old. I was staying with her family during the school holidays and the highlight of my visit was a trip to the town library. I was in heaven! My lovely friend borrowed several Anne of Green Gables books and a Georgette Heyer regency romance for me to read during my visit. While I don’t remember which Georgette Heyer novel I started on, I’ve loved them ever since.

At that time the library was housed in three or four small rooms in an old house next to the Post Office in the town’s main street. These days I believe the library is housed in a much larger building at the far end of the street.

Faro’s Daughter was a pleasure to read from beginning to end. The heroine is 25 years old, slightly older than many of Heyer’s heroines. Deborah Grantham helps her aunt to run a London gaming house which was frequented by the richest men in London. Unfortunately Deb’s aunt was a poor businesswoman and at the beginning of the story they were on the verge of financial ruin.

When Max Ravenscar, one of the richest men in England learned that his nephew wanted to marry Deb he stepped in with the intention of buying her off. Of course he fell in love with Deb himself, although it took him almost until the end of the book to realise she was not a fortune-hunter and had no intention of taking advantage of young Adrian.

Deb and Max, who is described as a hard-faced man who looks as if he would “strip to advantage” according to Deb’s doorman who was himself a retired boxer, argued and called each other names throughout this story. Doxy, Jade and Jezebel are a small sample of the names Max called Deb.

I was amused by the morals of Deb and Max, who had similar ideas of fair play that made little sense to anyone else. For example, Deb considered it reasonable to have her doorman kidnap Max and lock him in the cellar in order for her to redeem the mortgage papers on her aunt’s house, but she didn’t think it fair that he was hit over the head during the kidnapping. In return, Max refused to be freed from the cellar by Deb’s brother after he learned that her brother took the cellar key from Deb by force.

Faro’s Daughter is funny, completely ridiculous and one of my favourite of Georgette Heyer’s novels. Actually, they are all funny, ridiculous and they are all my favourites 🙂

Arabella by Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer’s Regency romance novels are amongst my favourite comfort reads. I started reading them in my teens and recently reread Arabella, enjoying the story as much as I did the first time (too long ago to think about).

Arabella Tallant is the beautiful daughter of a poor country clergyman, whose clever mother arranges for her to go to London for a season to find herself a rich husband. On the way, Arabella’s carriage breaks down at a hunting lodge owned by Robert Beaumaris, the richest, handsomest and most eligible man in London.

When Arabella overhears Mr Beaumaris tell his friend that he suspects her of knocking on his door in order that he will fall in love with and marry her, she pretends to be an heiress who wants to remain incognito in London. Of course Mr Beaumaris’ friend tells all of London that Arabella is rich, so it isn’t very long until she is inundated by offers of marriage.

One of the things I most like about Arabella is her social conscience. Arabella saves an abused child from a cruel master and a mongrel dog from children who are tormenting it and of course, Mr Beaumaris is at hand to assist her as required.

Mr Beaumaris is a hero with enough of a past to be interesting. It’s hard not to compare him to Pride and Prejudice‘s Mr Darcy, although Mr Beaumaris is a more relaxed character than Mr Darcy. There is a sub-plot concerning Arabella’s brother Bertram, which is probably too predictable to surprise anyone. Thinking it over, the whole plot is very like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Arabella was written as a homage to that book.

Georgette Heyer’s style is delightful. The writing is good, the story is clever, the characters are funny and likeable (and in this case, Mr Beaumaris is also swoon-worthy). The dialogue is gorgeous, whether it is Mr Beaumaris talking to the dog, snobbish members of the Ton discussing Arabella’s wealth, or a friend of Arabella’s brother’s speaking in an almost indecipherable slang.

I’ve been collecting Georgette Heyer’s books for years, snapping up the Pan editions whenever I spot one at an op-shop or book fair. The covers are garishly 1970s, and the orange and purple colour scheme on Arabella should be horrible, but somehow it all works and is pretty in a way reminiscent of the old Quality Street tins.

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