The way everyone describes this as a "coming of age" tale is completely accurate but also rather misleading. I was sure it was going to be some dowdy,...moreThe way everyone describes this as a "coming of age" tale is completely accurate but also rather misleading. I was sure it was going to be some dowdy, perhaps mildly inspiring piece of trite filler story. Something that was neither very good or very bad, but just...there.
So, so wrong.
No doubt it's a slow start, but once you get into the thick of it, the whole story lightens up and starts moving. It's full of COMEDY and ACTION and ADVENTURE like you would never suspect! There's an endearing side romance, a lot of silliness, and yes, a bit of growing up.
Even though it's an atypical style for Heyer, this is solidly one of my favorites.(less)
I think I'm as vexed with this book as Rotherham and Serena are with each other-- entirely love/hate, and rather more of the latter.
On the one hand th...moreI think I'm as vexed with this book as Rotherham and Serena are with each other-- entirely love/hate, and rather more of the latter.
On the one hand the story is a somewhat lively "comedy of manners" as advertised, but at the same time few of the characters are likable, let alone endearing, the eventual pairings are obvious from the first, and in the end I feel like the resolution wasn't enough to make up for all the needlessly frustrated teasing Heyer writes.
I'm irritated by how Heyer treats this literary device: she simply just imagines her cast of characters, purposefully disarranges them all, and then spends the book putting them back where they belong. Tedious and insipid, if you ask me.
But I guess what really rubbed me raw was Serena and Rotherham's personalities. They seem to be extremes of Heyer's typical leading lady and gentleman-- strong, saucy female and brutish, older male-- but both so thoroughly self-possessed as to be not just unfeeling, but unaware, unconcerned, and/or unaffected with, for, and by, anyone else. It's quite telling that aside from herself and her only true peer, Rotherham, Serena thinks of people in horse terms. Do they really see themselves as benevolent deities?
Otherwise, Serena's interminable 'vivacity' is code for overwhelming, and her quick mind, inexhaustible pace, and frequent boredom bespeak classic ADHD. She tramples rough-shod over everyone in her life, including Rotherham, who seems morbidly impressed with this, and in turn wreaks his own havoc on the innocent.
They make quite the ugly pair, and while I'm inclined to think everyone else is fortunate that these two beastly characters end up together, I worry about the kind of tyrannical children they would have and raise. (less)
On the one hand, the characters are fantastic, the story (especially the last few chapters) is entertaining, and there's an unusual...moreI feel conflicted.
On the one hand, the characters are fantastic, the story (especially the last few chapters) is entertaining, and there's an unusual (for Heyer) amount of blatant, full-on flirting.
But at the same time, the pacing was slower than I liked-- it took a long time to get into the story, and even then, I wasn't sure which plot lines were important and what the climax would even be about.
It all made sense in the end, but for a long time there were all these unimportant bits of random details that felt cluttered and distracting.
Finally, is it weird that I felt morally uncomfortable with how things are handled and wrapped up at the conclusion? Specifically the dishonesty. It just rubbed me wrong.
Kind of a slow start, not to mention some of Heyer's most "vulgar" characters I've seen so far, no matter how tonnish she declares them to be (but may...moreKind of a slow start, not to mention some of Heyer's most "vulgar" characters I've seen so far, no matter how tonnish she declares them to be (but maybe that's the point, see below.)
And though the action quickly turns reminiscent of a Shakespeare or Wilde type of chaotic comedy of errors, I found it painful rather than amusing.
It is Heyer's telling of the whole mess that saves the book, it turns out. She doesn't seem to like these characters much herself, and appears to withhold the sensibility of a closely attached narrative voice in favor of a more mockingly indulgent Omniscient one. She delivers many dryly astute observations with tongue-in-cheek seriousness, so that nearly all of the humor is derived from the exposition of the story rather than the narrative itself.
As I mentioned in the beginning, this story shows a bit of the unsavory aspects of polite society with little apology. The entire cast of characters are shown to be foolish in a variety of ways, with none of them, in my opinion, really rising to the top as the clear protagonist, despite, in the end, the semblance of a hero and a villain. (Luckily, no matter how useless or minor a character, Heyer doesn't fail to flesh them out nicely, so at least there's that.)
And although everything ties up neatly in the end, the combination of so many trite characterizations and the affected detachment of the author, almost seems an intentional means of effecting to the reader the trivial tragedies of the Ton (ooh, that's fun to say).