Kathy Davie's Reviews > Sylvester

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer
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's review
Sep 29, 11

bookshelves: history, funny, romance
Read in September, 2011

The Story
Horse-intrepid, but people-shy Phoebe Marlow is terrified of her stepmama and the threat of receiving an offer from the Duke of Salford has her fleeing in the dawn into an oncoming blizzard with childhood friend, Tom Orde. In an unfortunate turn of events, their curricle suffers an accident leaving Tom with a broken leg and both of them prey to recapture.

Fortunately for them, the duke has made his escape from Austerby, Phoebe's home, in time to find and aid them. In a weak moment, Tom lets it slip that Phoebe was actually fleeing him and that puts the light of battle in Sylvester's eye. He fully intends to make Phoebe fall in love with him before he dumps her.

Sylvester, however, hasn't yet met the real Phoebe…

My Take
I adore Georgette Heyer's Regency romances. They're funny, passionate [without sex], and clever with a lovely insight into human nature. She also does a lovely job of conveying the manners, mores, and style of the time period. Her characters are so individual and Heyer makes you care for them. The most impressive part is how well she writes the entire story in the vernacular of the day.

In this story, Phoebe is so cowed by her stepmother that she's almost invisible and didn't do well in her last Season. Our so-very-clever Phoebe is also quite a wit and took advantage of her stay amongst London's polite society and wrote a savage little romance that played off the weaknesses of that same society beginning with the devilish eyebrows of the Duke of Salford.

Heyer uses this tragicomedy to make fun of the self-absorbed Lady Henry and Lord Marlow, the overly pretentious Lord Fotherby, and demonstrate how arrogance can be cloaked in even the most pleasant-seeming person.

The Cover
Hideous cover. A gilt-framed oval mirror reflects a stoop-shouldered, sleepy-eyed woman who appears to be wearing a sack and a sleep mask while a disapproving man looks over her shoulder. All of which is set on a dressing table littered with flowers, jewelry and boxes against a floral background. I do so prefer her older covers.

The title is too funny as it reflects Edmund's threats to his kidnapper that "Uncle Vester will grind his bones".

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