Sistermagpie's Reviews > Sylvester

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer
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Apr 12, 12

Read in April, 2012

::sigh:: I feel like I'm probably in the minority on this book. I started out loving it and wound up really hating it, so I gave it a three.

The problem, I guess was that it just felt too one-sided to me. Okay, Sylvester's snobby and indifferent to people he doesn't care about so it's good for him to get smacked in the face with his flaws. Either from the mouth of the originally (to me) likable heroine or from her pen as the anonymous author of a trashy novel that casts him as the villain.

Unfortunately, for all his indifference, Sylvester wound up being the character who seemed to feel the most things, and while people criticized him for being cold they also criticized him whenever he openly felt something. Basically I spent a lot of the book sure that it would eventually be satisfying, because after many pages of Sylvester having to face his own flaws surely Phoebe would get her own slap in the face awakening, if only in a short scene. But no, Phoebe was just adorable and her personality was all the best for Sylvester as long as she had the patience to deal with him.

I think the turning point for me was the scene at a ball where Phoebe sees Sylvester for the first time after he's read her novel, knowing that she wrote it. Rather than openly cutting her (and letting everyone know that she was indeed the author) he dances with her, telling her off through a pleasant smile, and promising to keep her secret. But Phoebe can only dish it out and not take it, so Sylvester's just rude for showing actual feelings in response to her book. When she runs off and blows her own cover it's really Sylvester's fault. (No one ever suggests that writing a novel full of caricatures anonymously could also be showing indifference, or be mean, or cowardly.)

So I wound up sick of Phoebe and embarrassed for Sylvester, especially when even the revelation that the specific coldness in him that turned Phoebe off was a by-product of grief didn't make a difference. Like I said, maybe if I read the book again it would come across totally different, but as of now I just found it depressing as a love story between a flawed guy everyone joins in cutting down to size and a flawed girl everyone protects and fusses over. I know that Sylvester himself makes a remark about it, and Tom also does, but there's no scene where she actually has a moment of her own soul-searching. People have compared it to Pride and Prejudice, but it's more like P&P where Lizzie's original picture of Darcy was funny instead of a character flaw.
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