Jamila's Reviews > Cotillion

Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
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Jul 08, 11

Read from July 07 to 08, 2011

** spoiler alert ** This is the 4th Heyer novel I've read, and I've come to appreciate her regency romance formula: country-bred young woman finds herself in fashionable London, mixing with the worldly men and women of the ton, gets into a number of harebrained schemes and ridiculous scrapes, finds herself the recipient of male attention, and finally, at the end, scores the guy.

Cotillion, I admit, wasn't quite what I expected at first. Kitty Charing's guardian grants her his fortune on one condition: that she marry one of his great-nephews. Kitty is in love with Jack, who refuses to offer for her, and in a reckless gamble, Kitty instead talks her cousin Freddy into pretending to be engaged to her, so that she can escape her cloistered country life and travel to London, where she can finally see the sights and, just maybe, make Jack jealous enough to propose.

I wasn't prepared to like either Kitty or Freddy as much as I did. Kitty is a bit scatterbrained, naive, and altogether too trusting, though by the middle of the book she comes to understand some of the nuances of how the ton functions. And Freddy comes off as a complete dandy, caring only about his appearance, but through all of the scrapes that Kitty finds herself in, Freddy is there for her every step of the way, devising solutions to her problems and rescuing her from inconvenient situations, all the while denying that he's done anything of note.

Freddy and Jack, then, are an interesting study in contrasts: Freddy isn't the most intelligent or witty man, but he's caring, responsible, honest, and street-smart. Jack, on the other hand, is the charming rake: sly, disingenuous, and selfish. Heyer has modeled some of her male heroes in such a light (Sylvester, for example, is an accomplished flirt, and Lord Damerel from Venetia is dissolute and sarcastic), but here Jack is shown as cruelly self-centered, playing on the innocence and trust of the women around him. He was so odious that I was cheering at the end when Freddy delivers a much-needed comeuppance in the form of a strong right hook. Such a good moment!

I think what I really adored about this book was watching how Freddy and Kitty fall in love with each other. The two of them together are really sweet and charming, and when they put their heads together, they make a hilarious team. Of course, as with all of Heyer's novels, this features a strong cast of secondary characters (including Lord Dolphinton, the sweet but unbelievably feeble-minded cousin whose overbearing mother forces him to offer for Kitty more than once), and a wonderful array of historical details (I always love reading Heyer's descriptions of the clothing that the ladies in her tales wear). All in all, a lovely book, and a good choice for frothy, silly, fun romance.
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07/08/2011 page 56
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