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Cousin Kate

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  3,000 ratings  ·  194 reviews
Kate Malvern, rescued from penury by her aunt Minerva, hardly knows what to expect at Staplewood - the grand household is so very different from a life spent following the drum in the Peninsular! But surely, other households are more homelike? Kate's uncle lives in one wing, handsome, moody cousin Torquil in another; thought the guests are few, even family dinners are form...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 6th 2005 by Arrow (first published 1968)
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Res
Feb 22, 2008 Res rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: romance
The one where penniless, orphaned Kate is taken in by an aunt she's never met, and begins to discover strange things happening in the manor.

This was two different books that didn't mesh well together. The romance conflicts with the suspense in a way that takes the power out of both of them. By the time Kate finds out she could be in real danger, she's already got an ally who's more powerful than any of the forces that threaten her. And in a romance context I accept women agreeing to marry men t...more
Kathryn
Cousin Kate was quite a surprise to me the first time I read it; I was expecting a light and fluffy Regency romance but instead got a Gothic romance. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, Gothic romances are a subset of romance novels that feature heroines going through all sorts of dreadful adventures, including fire, flood, ghosts, murderers, skeletons, etc., before finally finding the right man. These novels were extremely popular with young English women during the Regency era, but mos...more
Olga Godim
Unlike most Heyer’s romances, which are light-hearted romps, this novel is sad, almost tragic, with a brooding atmosphere of Gothic horror and a cast of characters to match.
The protagonist Kate is a penniless young woman of twenty-four. Her parents are dead, she doesn’t have any other relatives, and the only person who loves her is her former nurse. Kicked out from her position as a governess, Kate is trying in vain to find a new ‘situation’. She is close to despair, when unexpectedly a rich Au...more
Meredith
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Debbie
"Cousin Kate" is a Gothic Regency romance. It's got the screams in the night, locked doors, manipulations, and Gothic-style madness. Though not a light-hearted story, it's like Heyer couldn't let the story descend into a creepy or horror story--just some tense moments full of threat. Which is fine by me! The ending was very sad, but I felt like the author was trying too hard to convince the reader that this really was a happy ending. Also, since Kate is supposed to be world-traveled and not a sh...more
Jessica
This book... I don't know, man.

It has a Modern Gothic feel and a Regency Gothic setting, with its grand old house that becomes a mark of obsession for the innocent-but-plucky heroine's long-lost aunt (who reminded me greatly of Maleficent). Plus all sorts of family dysfunction and madness for extra Gothic fun. And it was definitely scary in places, in a small animals in danger from a proto-serial killer way. But the romance was very abrupt -- to the point where the heroine's suspicion that the...more
Katie
This was a good book. It was different from the other Georgette Heyer book that I read (Bath Tangle), as the second half dealt with murder and a possibly insane person. I don't read horror books, and although this had the slightly scary theme of murder, it was well-written. I enjoyed the characters and the dialogue, as well as the first half of the book. I just liked the whole Regency-Era-country-manor setting. I would suggest, though, the following:

1. Don't read this as an introduction to the b...more
Christina
I put off reading Cousin Kate for almost three months now because False Colours and parts of A Convenient Marriage left a sour taste in my mouth. I actually started this book twice and barely managed to get past the first ten pages; the narrative just didn’t grabbed me. And then when I finally managed to plow through and start to the enjoy the story, the plot begins to lose it’s way. It deviates and takes roads that lead to no where, which ultimately means the story stutters and stalls at the en...more
Kristi (Books and Needlepoint)
Kate is a young girl in her mid-twenties. Young by our standards, but in the Regency period she was bordering on being an old maid. What is worse is that both of her parents have died, and she has just lost her job as a nanny. So she has no home, no job, and nothing for a dowry.

She has traveled to her childhood nurse, Sarah's home until she can find another placement. She doesn't feel like she can stay with Sarah as she has her own husband and family to care for - so when her Aunt Minerva shows...more
Hannah
I've only read 3 other Heyer books, so I can't speak with any authority on how different this offering is compared to her numerous other books, but I will note that I heard about Cousin Kate because it stirs up alot of mixed feelings (and ratings) with Heyer fans.


So of course I had to read it...


Cousin Kate starts off lighthearted, but but within 50 pages the plot takes on a darker, more gothic feel. There is a romance involved, but it's actually not the central theme of the book - mental illness...more
April
I should preface my review by saying that my favorite Georgette Heyer books are the lighthearted romps populated by witty cynics (The Masqueraders is probably my favorite of these). However, there is much to recommend in Cousin Kate. As with most Heyer novels, many of the characters are well-developed, with attention to both strengths and weaknesses and excellent descriptive quality. The opening scenes of Kate's arrival at the Nidd establishment are some of the most vivid. Unfortunately, the nov...more
Tweety
Aug 19, 2014 Tweety rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: if you like Gothic and don't mind a slower story with a happy/sad ending
I do believe I am in shock. What a morbid, Ghastly, Horrid ending. I rather wish I hadn't finished it at night. How on earth did it end on a happy note?

I really have to think about this review.

I've thought about it

I found it almost lyrical, I could see the beautiful still water that haunted Torquil, I felt his anguish over his dreams. His lingering worry that someone didn't have his best interests at heart. Poor Torquil.

Minerva was so like Aunt Em from Death in Kenya. They both did different...more
Hazel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kate
The darkest Heyer I've read, with a penniless heroine taken in by an aunt with ulterior motives, an unsympathetic hero, and a poor madman. I got bogged down in the middle of this one - it's clear that Torquil is mad, it's clear that Minerva is trying to get Kate to marry him, but Heyer just fills in more and more pointless detail, perhaps in an attempt to make the Philip-Kate relationship more realistic. She couldn't resist reverting to her regular silly tone at the end, despite the series of tr...more
Caz
The one that's a bit different. Review to follow at AudioGals.
Sheryl Tribble
Third tier Heyer. I quite like the elder Mr. Nidd, but the story is a bit of a mess; Heyer seems to have been aiming at the kind of gothic novel that was popular at the time, but she never gives the house a "personality", doesn't present the right mood, and generally doesn't have a handle on the whole concept.

She also provides a surprisingly accurate portrayal of a form of insanity not even really defined at the time (narcissistic personality) with one character -- while at the same time presen...more
Emily
Heyer wrote mostly historical romances, but also some detective/thriller novels. This is a fun mix of both, like Northanger Abbey crossed with The Turn of the Screw. Like both those stories, it features a young woman without many resources in a house that seems to have something frightening going on under the surface.

Unlike both of those stories, the heroine is blessed with commonsense, social graces, and a decent amount of intuition. Still, her position in life leaves her vulnerable and she's w...more
Miss Clark
2.5 stars

Gothic attempt by Heyer. Secondary characters are fun, but Kate & Phillip know each other far too briefly and interact so rarely that their marriage proposal seems odd and rushed. CRAZY evil aunt. Poor crazy son. Eeek. Hits all the Gothic notes. Fun as an example of the genre, but a far cry from Heyer's finest. It is not even all that intriguing a story apart from the Gothic trappings.

And, yes, the aunt was very "kind' but Kate, there comes a point where you really don't owe them!
Elisa
Seriously?

The plot line is laughable and plot twists are so obvious that readers can spot them pages before they happen. My twelve year old cousin could write a better novel. More than the story line it was the portrayal of the characters that got me so mad! The most interesting one is by far the aunt, who has sacrificed her life in the pursuit of her own kind of moral and standard. She is strong-willed, has endured countless pain and suffering and has managed to survive in a barren male-dominat...more
Melissa
This is one of the few gothic novels that Georgette Heyer wrote. It was a creepy gothic read. My greatest complaint about this is that there is so much slang/cant in it that at times it was difficult to read because I wasn't sure what the characters meant. (Thank heavens for Kindle dictionary!)

While I liked this book, it seemed like Heyer could have made it even creepier and had a more climactic ending. Instead, everything takes place off screen. It's a story with a lot of potential. There are...more
Avrelia
I read it for the first time, and didn't like it much. It was not a romance, but a thriller with elements of a romance, and it didn't quite work for me. The insanity has just brought sadness, and the mother's drive - anger, and the romance itself didn't quite work, and I can hardly remember Hero and Heroine by now... It wasn't bad, but flat I would say.
Strawberry
Nach dem Tod ihres Vaters, der aufgrund seiner nicht standesgemäßen Ehe schon vor langer Zeit von der Familie verstoßen wurde, betätigt sich die 24-jährige Kate zunächst als Erzieherin, bevor sie von ihrer Tante auf dem Anwesen Staplewood willkommen geheißen wird. Doch auf Staplewood scheint nicht alles mit rechten Dingen zuzugehen. Liegt es wirklich am Gesundheitszustand des Hausherren, dass nie Gäste empfangen werden? Und warum ist es ihrem aufbrausenden Vetter Torquil verboten das Grundstück...more
Missy
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Melanie
Bah. Not a Heyer worth picking up - sort of seems like a poor man's Jane Eyre. Also, the 'mystery' went on for too long after it was no longer a mystery and the romance was just eh. Very disappointed in this one, particularly since I have had a string of good ones.
Ms_prue
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Anna
I really enjoyed this G Heyer novel. It's quite different from her usual 'sparkling' fayre (fair? fare?? Anyway, you know what I mean). Once past the introductory chapters this turns quite suspenseful and later quite dark. The characters are very well drawn, especially Aunt Minerva - having been struggling at work recently with a toxic manipulative boss I could see her as a mirror image of Minerva so I personally found the description of the personality of M very accurate and insightful. The boo...more
Sarah
Cousin Kate was darker than Georgette Heyer's books usually are. Definitely had a Gothic feel to it. After being fired from a governess position, Kate discovers her long lost Aunt, and it taken to live with her. Kate is a very optimistic person but she soon sees that Staplewood is not a happy home. The odd people and strange occurrences make her feel uneasy. The one person she can turn to is the handsome Philip Broome.
I did like the romance of Kate and Philip better than other Heyer books. Phil...more
Kayse
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Qnpoohbear
© Bodley Head 1968
Turned off from her job as a governess, Kate Malvern has no where to go except to the home of her old nurse, Sarah Nidd, a carrier's wife. When Kate declares her intentions of becoming a fashionable lady's maid or a dressmaker, Sarah is appalled. A young lady like Kate shouldn't have to go into trade, even if her father was a gamester soldier who left Kate with nothing. Urged on by her cantankerous, but kindly, father-in-law, Sarah writes to Kate's estranged aunt, Lady Broome....more
Diane
Really just a touch below a 4. Whether true or not, I think of Heyer as pre-selecting for her books topics of currency during the Regency Period, which also happen to be universal themes, and developing them from that dual light. In Cousin Kate, she explores overbearing vs. capable, strong women; weak men of a kind nature vs. men of keener perception and strength of will; hereditary weaknesses and illness; and of course the lifetime plight of women of "quality" when the usual Regency requirement...more
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18067
Georgette Heyer was an amazingly prolific writer who created the Regency England genre of romance novels.

Georgette Heyer was an intensely private person. A best-seller all her life without the aid of publicity, she made no appearances, never gave an interview, and only answered fan letters herself if they made an interesting historical point. Heyer wrote very well-researched historical fiction, fu...more
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“Has it occurred to you, Kate, that she is placing you under an obligation?"

"Oh, yes, indeed it has, and it is crushing me!" she said earnestly. "If only there were some way of requiting her - not arranging flowers, or entertaining Sir Timothy, or bearing Torquil company, but a big thing! Something that was vital to her, or - or even something that entailed a sacrifice! But there isn't anything that I can discover."

There was a pause, during which he frowned down at his well-kept finger-nails. At length he said slowly: "If she were to demand it of you, would you be prepared to make a sacrifice of yourself?”
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