One of Heyer's absolute best, though sadly marred by a racially stereotypical portrayal of a Jewish moneylender.
Sophy herself is endlessly entertaininOne of Heyer's absolute best, though sadly marred by a racially stereotypical portrayal of a Jewish moneylender.
Sophy herself is endlessly entertaining (though I'm not sure I'd want to come into her orbit in case she decided to organise my life for me), and her relationship with Charles one of the few that comes close to a semblance of equality. I particularly appreciated how people's flaws can be magnified or lessened depending on the company they keep - Charles is simply the worst version of himself in Eugenia's company (though it's worth noting that he is also hiding part of himself around her, since he succeeds in suppressing any outbursts of his notorious temper).
Smugglers, murders, Bow Street Runners, hidden cellars, priests holes, damsels fleeing home at night through snow, and a double romance. This is a higSmugglers, murders, Bow Street Runners, hidden cellars, priests holes, damsels fleeing home at night through snow, and a double romance. This is a highly amusing and entertaining entry, nicely balancing the adventure with the personal interaction, and a particular standout for Sarah, who is an awesome character, both eternally calm, and taking delight in tweaking at her over-serious match's staidness....more
This is the third of Heyer's books with the core premise of gentleman coming across beautiful girl, and putting her in the care of an established femaThis is the third of Heyer's books with the core premise of gentleman coming across beautiful girl, and putting her in the care of an established female friend (who is not pretty and has been in love with him for years) while he tries to find the proper person to look after the girl (the others being Charity Girl and The Foundling).
Sprig Muslin is by far the most successful of this particular plot, primarily because the gentleman and the female friend get to spend a good deal more time with each other and you actually get to see the shift in his feelings for her.
Amanda (the beautiful girl) is also highly entertaining, with her boundless wild tales and indefatigable determination.
Bah - I didn't realise when I picked this up that it was an abridged version. Completely cut the guts (and most of the humour) out of the story. I didBah - I didn't realise when I picked this up that it was an abridged version. Completely cut the guts (and most of the humour) out of the story. I didn't think much of the voices the narrator chose to use for various characters either.
Sylvester itself is one of Heyer's best stories. Sorry to see it so mangled....more
The blurb, focusing as it does on the innocence of Penn, tends to put me off this book, but the story itself is a great deal of fun. Penn is a littleThe blurb, focusing as it does on the innocence of Penn, tends to put me off this book, but the story itself is a great deal of fun. Penn is a little naive, but she's also the sort of girl who reacts to being in a stage coach accident with delight at the adventure.
By putting on a boy's clothes, Penn gets to participate in the adventures as well, and greets almost every circumstance with unimpaired good spirits. I particularly enjoy her opinion of her former swain and his new inamorata....more
Another of the more adventure than romance stories, this involves the massive Captain John Staple finding a toll-gate where the man responsible has vaAnother of the more adventure than romance stories, this involves the massive Captain John Staple finding a toll-gate where the man responsible has vanished and left behind only his young and frightenened lad. This mystery intrigues him, but he decides to stay in the area after falling in love-at-first-sight with a young woman known in the area as "The Squire" because she has been managing her ailing grandfather's estates.
As a romance this is fairly bland. The basis of the romance is simply matching height, and he and Nell are sure of their feelings early on. What remains to be settled is her problematic cousin, and the mystery of the toll-gate. Nell gets sadly little to do, but if you read it as an adventure for John it's enjoyable....more
This is more adventure than romance, and bears a strong resemblance to Charity Girl, with another 'unsuitable' female in need of rescue, and handed ovThis is more adventure than romance, and bears a strong resemblance to Charity Girl, with another 'unsuitable' female in need of rescue, and handed over to a long-standing friend-come-love interest of the main male character. But most of the story is caught up in the adventures of Gilly as he kicks over the traces and goes on a mission of mercy (and meets another 'Falstaff' type, though this one theoretically intended to be more amusing).
The story works a little better than Charity Girl, but it is still full of rather too much of the things Gilly is trying to escape, which is hard to endure in a book, let alone a whole life.
There are a few bright points, though - particularly the farmer's mother observing that Belinda's lack of morals is probably due to being a by-blow of the gentry. And Gideon and Gilly's friendship is nice.
Even so, watching Gilly chafe against all the coddling restrictions placed upon him and finally begin to assert himself left me with a reflection that those restrictions are perhaps only a quarter so tight as those placed on poor Harriet, which dims my sympathy for him a trifle - particularly when it's suggested that his new-found pleasure in Harriet is owed to her tendency to do whatever he tells her to....more
The romance here is happening in the background, while the foreground is taken up more by a mystery.
Drusilla is a very non-traditional romantic heroinThe romance here is happening in the background, while the foreground is taken up more by a mystery.
Drusilla is a very non-traditional romantic heroine, being described as a 'squab' (her figure has a touch of pigeon) and her primary positive attributes being practical calm and quiet honesty. We definitely see Gervase come to appreciate her composure, and to no longer think her dull, though any attraction he feels for her isn't as easily detected. She was very well done, with her worn and not even resentful resignation to being completely unattractive - she is someone who has accepted that she will never make any sort of love match, let alone to someone as handsome as Gervase, and so I am always happy when she discovers herself wrong.
The narrator chose an interesting voice for Gervase (who is meant to be very quiet and amiable in his manner). The calm, but archly dandified tone used for him in this book makes him sound more sarcastic than amiable....more
Not one of the more successful Heyers, this starts out with the introduction of a billion characters we never meet again, and then involves a lot of tNot one of the more successful Heyers, this starts out with the introduction of a billion characters we never meet again, and then involves a lot of travelling in hunt of people, a too-large late appearance of a Falstaff, and very little chance to see the main couple even in the same room. There's not even a powerful trigger for the change of heart, since the couple appear to see each other regularly, and aren't at any real emotional extremis during the story....more
A young woman sheltered all her life in the country meets a rake, but the story is not one of an innocent reformiThis is the most enormously fun book.
A young woman sheltered all her life in the country meets a rake, but the story is not one of an innocent reforming the rake, but a rake being brought to accept that the young woman can damn well make up her own mind about who is and isn't acceptable to her.
There is some reformation going on, but this is a story that takes the social conventions that form the basis of most Heyer stories and throws them up in the air, then remarks appreciatively on orgies and comparisons to Oedipus, and whatever else may fall out.
This is a book that is as much about the characters of a previous book (These Old Shades) as the current generation. Child of the Macchiavellian near-This is a book that is as much about the characters of a previous book (These Old Shades) as the current generation. Child of the Macchiavellian near-villain Avon and the hot-headed Leone, Vidal has the best and worst of both his parents - looks, skills, address, a strong lack of scruples and an overpowering temper.
Although Heyer isn't actually criticising the circumstances, this is a neat illustration of the separation of women into women you can treat badly and women you treat with considerably more courtesy and are obliged to marry if you accidentally treat them badly. Given that the two women in question are sisters, and all that separates them is the way they themselves behave (in contrast to Vidal, who gets to cat about simply because he is male)...well, we still haven't overcome that particular prejudice.
Although Vidal is very very close to being unbearable (if Mary hadn't proven herself straight-laced by means of a pistol, I think it fair to say he would have raped her), Heyer just barely (within the bounds of the social circumstances laid out above) brings off his reformation.
This is mainly due to Mary, who is very resolute with only occasional lapses into her socially-imbued "not worthy" reaction. And so I still like this story, even with its problematic foundations.
Hilariously, the audiobook narrator makes Avon sound eerily like Antony Hopkin's Hannibal Lecter. An interesting comparison indeed!...more
Another sensible heroine (and a marvellously insufferable younger charge). The mutual falling in love part happens quite early, and we need a big misuAnother sensible heroine (and a marvellously insufferable younger charge). The mutual falling in love part happens quite early, and we need a big misunderstanding to delay the conclusion of the story.
Tiffany (the charge) really is a revolting girl, but I was interested in the section, early on, where Tiffany points out that it's silly for her to pretend that she's not beautiful when she's perfectly able to see that she's beautiful, and everyone tells her it's so. This reminded me of the experiment some girls and women have tried by simply agreeing when some random guy on social media tells them they're beautiful/hot - and then instantly turns on her when she doesn't modestly protest that she's not. Even just saying "thanks" can garner a negative reaction.
This is (to a somewhat lesser degree) true for men as well (a guy would be able to say 'thanks', I think, but would only sometimes be able to carry off a "yes" or "I know"). It's a virtue to be modest, apparently, but for a beautiful person to respond with a disclaimer in response to a compliment is a kind of mandatory social lie.
We don't, after all, truly believe those beautiful people who say: "Oh, not really", or "You're being too generous" in response to a compliment (unless we think they've got an incredibly low self-esteem). The response is the equivalent of covering your mouth when you burp even though it doesn't hide that it happened, or stop any noise.
Mandatory social lies. We really are an odd species.
Hugo is an army Major who is a grandson of Lord Darracott. Darracott's family have never met (or even heard) of Hugo, owing to Hugo's father being casHugo is an army Major who is a grandson of Lord Darracott. Darracott's family have never met (or even heard) of Hugo, owing to Hugo's father being cast off for marrying a commoner. But when a couple of unfortunate deaths leaves Hugo heir to the title, he is summoned to meet the family.
Yorkshire born, Hugo is an imperturbable and sharp-minded man, who hides much of his competence behind a tendency to play the yokel, and his own affable nature. The story lets us watch his family almost as a whole either misunderstand or dismiss him, and then come around to him as he starts managing their affairs, and then brings them through a crisis.
The romance of this particular story is almost sidelined simply for the drama, but I like how quickly she sees Hugo for his virtues, and their humorous understanding of each other.
Reasonably good narrator for this audiobook too....more
This is one of my favourite Heyers: it's both funny and completely inverts the usual taming the rake tropes. We spend a large amount of time in AlversThis is one of my favourite Heyers: it's both funny and completely inverts the usual taming the rake tropes. We spend a large amount of time in Alverstoke's point of view, watching him being besotted and having him fret over the question of whether his feelings are returned.
And, really, we need more cultural eras that are willing to show men as so entirely vain about their appearance. Not just the dandies, but people like Alverstoke, who seem to treat tying their cravat with High Church reverence.
The narrator of this audiobook, while adept at producing a variety of voices, produced simply _terrible_ voices for the characters. I swear if Felix actually spoke in the near-lisping Little Lord Fauntleroy accents used here, he'd have been shoved under the wheels of a carriage long ago. And the less said about the already fairly intolerable Charis the better....more
This is one of the Heyers that both works and doesn't work for me. I like the story I think Heyer is _trying_ to convey, but think that her intentionThis is one of the Heyers that both works and doesn't work for me. I like the story I think Heyer is _trying_ to convey, but think that her intention and what appears on the page doesn't quite match up. Elinor is clearly meant to be frequently sarcastic, and equal to the challenges that come her way, but she is so tangled up in how she is expected to behave (proper and full of sensibility and completely unable to show any hint of self-worth) that she comes across a good deal more flustered than she perhaps really is.
This is exacerbated by the narrator of this particular audiobook who (like many men attempting a female voice) produces something rather affected and hen-like for Elinor.
The result, at any point, is someone constantly anxious and upset, and then facing Carlyon's almost Gaslighting tendency to play down everything that's happening, and having (forever perfectly good) reasons not to tell her important bits of information.
There are some very funny bits, though (particularly the first conversation with Elinor and Carlyon), and if only Elinor had come across as a bit more redoubtable I would like the book thoroughly for its almost farce-like silliness....more