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This is an alternate cover edition for ISBN 0330020749 .

"Alas," said Arabella, "I am fabulously wealthy! It is the greatest mortification to me! You can have no notion!" Arabella, the bewitching daughter of a country parson, is sent to London to make a good marriage. On the way an encounter with Mr. Beaumaris, that most eligible of Corinthians, leads her to pose as an heiress anxious to avoid suitors. Arabella becomes the talk of the town and the catch of the season, but the deception brings many complications and a near disaster...'

250 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1949

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About the author

Georgette Heyer

153 books4,548 followers
Georgette Heyer was a prolific historical romance and detective fiction novelist. Her writing career began in 1921, when she turned a story for her younger brother into the novel The Black Moth.

In 1925 she married George Ronald Rougier, a mining engineer. Rougier later became a barrister and he often provided basic plot outlines for her thrillers. Beginning in 1932, Heyer released one romance novel and one thriller each year.

Heyer was an intensely private person who remained a best selling author all her life without the aid of publicity. She made no appearances, never gave an interview and only answered fan letters herself if they made an interesting historical point. She wrote one novel using the pseudonym Stella Martin.

Her Georgian and Regencies romances were inspired by Jane Austen. While some critics thought her novels were too detailed, others considered the level of detail to be Heyer's greatest asset.

Heyer remains a popular and much-loved author, known for essentially establishing the historical romance genre and its subgenre Regency romance.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,713 reviews
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,878 reviews22.6k followers
August 6, 2019
Arabella is one of the more charming and funny Georgette Heyer books that I've read, with a major plus in the form of one of my favorite Heyer book boyfriends, Mr. Robert Beaumaris. Arabella Tallant is a lovely, unspoiled girl, but certain to be hampered in the eyes of London society by the fact that she's a poor country vicar's daughter from Yorkshire. Nevertheless, her optimistic mother prevails on Arabella's high society godmother to sponsor her in making her debut into society. So despite Arabella's (and her father's) misgivings, off she goes, with strict instructions to find a rich husband so she can help bring out her younger sisters later.

On the road to London, there's an accident with Arabella's carriage, and she and her companion ask for shelter in a nearby hunting box owned by one of the leading lights of London society, Robert Beaumaris, a handsome and extremely wealthy man. Arabella overhears the rather arrogant Beaumaris tell his friend that he's certain Arabella has pursued him from London and has made up the carriage accident as an excuse. She's so incensed by this accusation that she immediately launches into a series of reckless lies, telling Beaumaris and his friend that she's a wealthy heiress who is unutterably weary of all the fuss people make over her. Beaumaris realizes she's making this all up and is vastly amused, but his more gullible friend believes the story, especially after Beaumaris (tongue firmly in cheek) confirms that of course he knows of the Tallant fortune.

A few days later Arabella is horrified, as she begins to go about in society, to find that word has spread and everyone in London society now believes she's an heiress. To seal the deal, Beaumaris whimsically begins to pay her particular attention, just to make certain that her Season is a success. As they get to know each other better their attraction grows, and Beaumaris, a confirmed bachelor, starts to reconsider his status. But Arabella feels caught by the web her lie has created and doesn't know who she can trust, or who will still care about her when her poverty becomes known.

Arabella is a sympathetic heroine, naive but also self-aware, and determinedly resistant of the natural inclination to fall head over heels in love with Robert Beaumaris, convinced that he'll only hurt her in the end. Robert finds Arabella refreshing as he gets to know her better, despite - or more accurately, because of - her charitable impulses, which land him with a mongrel dog and worse. It's great fun to watch these two try to come to an understanding in spite of the lie that is still pushing them apart.

Minus a star for a subplot about Arabella's brother getting into some severe gambling trouble, which I thought was predictable and almost painfully embarrassing to read (I skimmed that part on reread), and for Arabella's overdone silliness and naivete at the very end, combined with a dollop of paternalistic attitude from Beaumaris that I'm sure read better back in 1949 when this book was first published. But other than that, Heyer's wit shines in this book, and it's a delicious Regency romp.
Profile Image for Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ .
773 reviews552 followers
December 31, 2021
This isn't the book cover I have (the copy I read was by Mandarin Publishing in the 1990s & Arabella looks nothing like I envisage her) but this is my favourite Heyer cover ever. so I'm using this one.

In spite of some stiff competition from Fridays Child & Cotillion, this is my favourite Heyer Regency. I am still a little in love with Robert Beaumaris & Ulysses is my favourite minor GH character! ;) I love the way that Arabella has other motivations & character in her life other than finding a rich husband. & the book does contain many insights into what life was like for the less fortunate in Regency times.

Edit; 2/7/18. This time this is the edition I read! I still love this cover, even though Arabella is a brunette.

This is still a 5★ read for me, but it is no longer my favourite Heyer Regency. In fact, it may have slipped out of my top 5 of Heyer's romances. The main reason is the amount of time Arabella's tiresome brother Bertram receives. I appreciate GH's realistic portrayal of I am sure the number of unsatisfactory brothers in GH novels is due to her financially supporting her own brothers for most of their lives. but Bertram pushes Arabella & Robert's romance off centre stage.

As above, I still love Robert & Ulysses. Arabella is one of GH's best heroines & with GH (as usual) handling all the strands in her novel so well, Arabella's social conscience doesn't mean she behaves like a 20th century heroine transplanted to the Regency era.

Just bear in mind I have probably read this title over 50 times. Things that niggle at me, may not strike you at all.

But Bertram. Ugh.

My final read for 2021! I must be turning into a Moody Reader, because this time I'm feeling far more tolerant of Bertram & see his difficulties as very necessary to the plot! Arabella is one of GH's most unconventional heroines, & the scenes where she is Papa's daughter are some of the most entertaining scenes in the book!
Profile Image for Hannah.
794 reviews
December 8, 2014
WOW, what an absolutely fantastic read Arabella was.

This Heyer combines all that's best about regency romances, starting with a well crafted hero. 'Cause let's face it ladies, we all like a swoon-worthy book man. And I'm here to tell you that Robert Beaumaris has got "it" in spades:

He's charming (but not overbearing). He's slightly jaded (but not an out-an-out rake), he's a bit world weary (but not cynical), and most important of all, he's got a dry sense of humor, especially when it comes to his fashion sense in dandelion boutineers and conversations with canine mutts (just read the book and you'll see what I mean about the last two!). He channels a little Mr. Darcy, a little Captain Wentworth and, surprisingly enough to me, a little Rory Frost from my favorite book of all time, Trade Wind. Not many readers are going to understand that last reference at all, because these two books have absolutely nothing in common in style, content or plotline. However, one of the best moments in both these books comes when the jaded hero steps up and takes on a problem because he knows it will help the heroine yet cause countless difficulties for himself. The best part about this plot device is that no one is more surprised then the hero himself that he makes this offer. It's as if he can't help himself, and it's at that moment he knows his heart is irrevocably lost to the heroine. I.MELT.EVERY.TIME.

The heroine Arabella is also a good character. She's young and naive, but she's not overtly silly and helpless (although Heyer overdoes it with all her blushing). She cares for defenseless things, is willing to fight for what she believes in, and plays the older, worldly-wise Beaumaris with a surprisingly deft hand in the game of love. These two, you feel, will have a very good life together, because they bring out the better elements in each other's character. In a word, they are believable.

It goes without saying that this is a clean read, but it's not an easy one with all the cant-speak and idioms Heyer uses. It gives the novel a very authentic voice, but it's not always easy for modern readers to follow. Heyer was a prodigious researcher, and I'd be willing to bet there's not many people who have or had a better grasp of Regency England then she did. It shows, and it makes for a rich and detailed read that goes beyond the romance.

Until a future Heyer read challenges my vote, Arabella is now my favorite Heyer romance. If another can top it, then I'm excited to find it, since I faced the exquisite quandry of wanting to find out what happened at the end, and conversely never wanting it to end.

Well done, Georgette. Well done.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,620 reviews4,957 followers
January 2, 2021
this is a pleasant, satisfying, perfectly accomplished tale. I smiled, my heart was warmed, I enjoyed the elegant prose and wry dialogue and brisk narrative, the comic bits landed, the characters were amusing and endearing. all the good things. the father who is such a kind, well-meaning fellow that he inspires instantaneous guilt & self-loathing in his children at even the idea that he may be disappointed with them - well, that is a great superpower and he was a treat to read about. and best of all: Ulysses! Heyer often shows a soft spot for animals, but this was my first experience with one being so completely central to the story. what a great dog!

another thing I enjoyed that is often a part of her stories but which is centralized here: the importance of charity and altruism. sweet, slightly daffy Arabella is characterized almost entirely by her insistence on doing the right thing for any child, animal, or down-at-their-luck adult who crosses her path. for a while, I didn't have a precise grasp on who she really was, other than a pleasant and forthright person who sometimes doesn't deal too well with condescension. Arabella's specific personality was rather fuzzy to me. but that eventually changed: in time, the novel shows that this is her most important attribute, it's key to who she is. the author is playful with this trait but she doesn't portray it as remotely negative. the characters that surround Arabella find it amusing as well (or rather irritating), while also recognizing that this virtue is exactly why she is so different from everyone else. all of that really charmed me. I love that scene where Beaumaris just stares at Arabella, fascinated and impressed, as she goes off in a monologue regarding how far she'll go to make sure a child is well taken care of.

I thought Beaumaris' personality was a bit fuzzy too, at first. mainly he reminded me of a low-key version of other detached but essentially kind-hearted style gods that inhabit what sounds like a high number of Heyer novels. still, I really enjoyed him. and perhaps because his characterization is softly rather than very sharply etched - lightly sardonic but never vindictive, always properly outfitted but not fashion-obsessed, etc. - it was actually easier for me to relate to him. and I certainly related to his cheerful but fortunately not mean-spirited sadism! many of my victims family & friends & colleagues don't seem to get that this is a positive attribute in a person.

it's interesting for me to read Heyer novels that are all about the romance while reflecting on my own gender, as a reader... i.e. reading a book that is designed so that its female readers relate to and identify with its protagonist while seeing its male lead as an object of desire. the book is quite literally not written for people like me. as a queer man (bi, to be specific), it's not exactly heavy lifting for me to find a male character appealing or not. I also have no problem with seeing myself in female characters in books that aren't Heyer romances. I can usually empathize with most anyone. and yet, despite always sympathizing with Heyer's female characters, it is the male characters that I tend to identify with. maybe I am just being an old-fashioned gender essentialist (I hope not!) but it is her female characters that enchant me and it is her male characters that I actually try to relate to on a personal level. I'm rambling here, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that it was great to eventually see myself in Beaumaris and it was even better seeing him fully appreciate how wonderful Arabella is as a person.

this was a perfect read for a Christmas season spent on my own this year, which was a first for me. the novel was a real spirit-lifter. Thank you Carol for recommending it!
Profile Image for Beverly.
774 reviews266 followers
August 13, 2021
A sweet, little romance, Arabella is a spunky, smart heroine, who lets her anger at a snobbish fop, goad her into telling a lie. The falsehood is that she is a rich debutante, when in reality her parents are middle class and have a superfluity of daughters to marry and sons to get into various careers. Taking place in the Regency period, the story uses Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen as its model.
Profile Image for Anne.
502 reviews475 followers
February 15, 2019
What can I say about this wonderful little darling book that hasn't already been said?

Arabella is charming. It's a true Regency romance classic, the epitome of the perfect comedy of manners set in London, and features all your favourite Regency quirks, mannerisms, glittering balls and shocking crushes. And naturally, there is an enterprising heroine and a dashing hero, who meet quite by chance and fall quite madly in love amidst a set of funny and delightful adventures. Ah, to have a London Season and go shopping in Bond Street, entertain callers all morning and be sought-after by all the gazetted fortune hunters for miles around! Such is the lot of our dear heroine Arabella in this story, but mind you, she brought it all upon herself (because of Mr. Beaumaris, of course), as you will see.

Once upon a time, in a sheltered and remote Yorkshire village, there lived the Tallant family, of which Arabella was the eldest and prettiest daughter. The Tallants lived a quiet and peaceful existence until the day Arabella’s godmother, Lady Bridlington, had the brilliant idea (aided with a few not-so-subtle-hints from Mrs. Tallant) to invite her to London for the upcoming social season. Arabella, who had been poring over fashion magazines with her sisters and dazed by the prevailing fashion of satin bodices and diamond fastenings, was naturally delighted and looked upon the season as her Only Hope to form an eligible connection to aid her family and bring her sisters in the way of meeting other eligible young men. If she were to make a splendid match, how beneficial it would be for everyone!

After many preparations, most of which included exclaiming over Mama’s old clothes from the old trunk, the making of new gowns by the nearest town’s modiste and shopping for such indispensible accessories as hats, bonnets, gloves, fans and silk stockings, Arabella was finally ready to depart, and after tearful goodbyes, she got into her uncle’s old carriage and left for London.

Meanwhile, enjoying a respite from the humdrum of the metropolis and the conniving schemes of unscrupulous females too numerous to number, Mr. Robert Beaumaris was intending to spend a very relaxing evening in his Leicestershire hunting-box with his dear friend Lord Fleetwood (who was definitely hoping for more than good food and wine as his only distractions of the evening). Alas, that his peace should be shattered!

Lord Fleetwood: So, Rob, what are we doing tonight?
Mr. Beaumaris: I told you. Eat. Drink. Relax.
Fleetwood: Yeah, but what else?? Seriously, what are we going to DO?
Beaumaris: I just told you. EAT AND DRINK AND RELAX. You will not be disappointed in my cook, let me tell you!!
Fleetwood: Look, I realize than anyone else would be happy just being invited to your hunting-box, but I AM NOT ANYONE ELSE. Now seriously Rob, entertainment??! Don’t you have a few pretty women hidden somewhere??
Beaumaris: Yeahhhhhh. Because I just casually have women hiding around in my houses in the hope of pleasing you!
Fleetwood: Come on man, I was expecting some wild orgies and drinking wine out of skulls!! (Guys, ^^ that’s actually in the book!)
Beaumaris: GTFO Lord Byron! Because IF, and I say IF, I had any, do you imagine I would just show you them and run the risk that they would prefer you to me?!
Fleetwood: Oh stop that BS! If there are to be no women -
Beaumaris: No clue why you would THINK there would be!
Brough enters: Excuse me sir, a couple of women have had a carriage accident right outside your door and are asking if they can wait here until it the damage is fixed?
Beaumaris: Meh. Bring them to the salon.
Fleetwood: Wait, whoa, waiiiiiit!! Are they young, old, pretty, what?!
Brough: Uuuhh…one of them is young and –I think- very pretty!
Fleetwood: Then what the hell, Robert?! Bring them here Brough! Ahhh women after all!!
Beaumaris: *facepalm* FML.

And so it is that the beautiful Miss Tallant and her traveling companion Miss Blackburn are ushered into the presence of the two aforementioned gentlemen. It should also be said, in favour of the gentlemen (Mr. Beaumaris in particular) that they appeared rather to advantage in their state of ease and good-humour, and that Mr. Beaumaris just happened to be charmingly smiling as Miss Tallant entered the room. Naturally, sparks fly and the electricity will remain in the air between them for the rest of the story, even though the majority of them are fuelled by anger and provocation on Arabella’s part.

While ascending the stairs, she overhears with dreadful clarity Mr. Beaumaris telling Lord Fleetwood that she has set up the carriage accident on purpose to throw herself at him. Our dear heroine becomes so incensed that she decides then and there to embark on a dangerous game. She will prove to that arrogant, no-doubt-good-for-nothing darling of society that she can have no use at all for his money and position. Behold, the Miss Arabella Tallant, heiress to a vast fortune, and travelling incognito to London!

Yay! Brilliant! Of course this is going to work!

Except about the part where that snarky Mr. Beaumaris sees right through the charade and decides to play fire with fire…

Like, “you want to be an heiress?” OK FINE. HEIRESS IT IS. But don’t come cryin’ to me later!

Unfortunately for him, he has no idea what kind of “heiress” he’s just agreed to launch into society. Arabella is, first and foremost, a country clergyman’s daughter bent on helping others in need whether she’s a lady of quality or not. Before long, she has foisted a dirty climbing-boy and an abused mongrel dog onto poor unsuspecting Mr. Beaumaris, and has him completely twisted round her little finger whether he wants to or not. Dang it, she wasn’t supposed to be that charming! And while he tries in vain to capture her attention, he manages to win the complete and utter adoration of a totally unexpected party: the mongrel dog (which he names Ulysses).

This book is FAMOUS for the conversations Mr. Beaumaris entertains with his dog. Seriously. It is too good.

Ulysses just freakin’ LOOOOVES Mr. Beaumaris and can’t bear to be away from him.

And he knows that Mr. Beaumaris knows that Arabella loves him too.

Even though his manners leave a lot to be desired (as Beaumaris reminds him continuously).

And his eating habits are questionable.

Honestly, that dog is just priceless whether Beaumaris agrees or not. It was a really unique element to an otherwise slightly déjà-vu story, and it was really fun.

Next, throw in Arabella’s young hothead brother Bertram bent on having a taste of Town and running into one scrape after another, a merry chase about the place with everyone trying to rescue each other, and a very wise Dowager Duchess Highly Advising Matrimony for her favourite grandson, and you have yourself a delightful classic comedy of manners, full of laughs and mishaps.

And another one of those hilarious-but-completely-random valet scenes stopping all action at a very crucial point, because we need to know what will happen to Mr. Beaumaris’ clothes while he travels.

Beaumaris : Alright Painswick, I need to leave and it’s pretty urgent, so just pack up shirts and neckcloths and, you know, simple sutff, because you’re not coming with me.
Painswick : *so shocked he remains speechless for a full minute*
Beaumaris : Yeah, and tell them to have the carriage ready for six, and –
Painswick : B-but, d-d-did you s-say I wasn’t going with you????
Beaumaris : Yeah I did, I’m going alone, dude HURRY UP, I NEED TO GO!
Painswick : But sir! Who is going to dress you? Wait upon you? Take care of you??? YOU NEED ME!
Beaumaris : I’ll be fine, I can dress myself!
Painswick : But your coat, sir! WHO WILL PRESS YOUR COAT??
Beaumaris : Sigh. I’m sure they can do that at the posting-house!
Beaumaris : I honestly don’t really care about my coat right now.
Painswick : *alright, that settles it, he’s nuts!* SIR. *gulps* Please let me come with you!!!
Beaumaris : Ugh, I’ll be fine I tell you! Take a holiday, go have fun!
Painswick : Take A HOLIDAY when I know you’ll be all alone having to dress yourself???
Beaumaris : I CAN dress myself!!
Painswick : And what about your boots? Will they be nicely polished?? Shirt collars starched enough? WHAT IF YOU GET MUD ON YOUR BREECHES??!?! I NEED TO COME WITH YOU!
Painswick : I…I think I’m going to die.


Funny, witty, charming and wholly entertaining, Arabella is a wonderful Heyer romance you don’t want to miss. I was tempted to lower my rating a bit because at times the story seemed to drag, and I wasn’t that interested in Bertram’s antics which took up quite a lot of the last half of the book, but it’s just such a brilliant classic and so very Heyer that I can’t bring myself to give it less than a 5. I would strongly recommend starting with this one as a first Heyer read, especially as I had the feeling I’d already met a few of the characters in some other of her novels, and that feeling of déjà-vu sometimes slightly spoiled the fun I would otherwise have had meeting them for the first time.

Also, I was disappointed that, although Arabella’s family is strongly featured in the first few chapters, we never see them again after she leaves for London. I was really hoping for a reunion scene with them and Mr. Beaumaris!

But anyways, those are only slight complaints, I really did love this novel and would definitely read it again. And this is a Heyer Regency romance, so you know that…

…they lived happily after after <3

Buddy-read with Lori :D I apologize for the SUPER LATE, COMPLETELY OVERDUE REVIEW!! We read it AGES ago!!!
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,855 reviews1,888 followers
July 2, 2022
There is no need to review this decades-old delight. If you have read it, you know; if you have not, I urge you to the deed, and with all possible haste; and now I address those whose lips curl at such pedestrian, nay plebeian, entertainments:

The more fool you.
Profile Image for Kathy.
2,741 reviews5,978 followers
June 30, 2016
Enjoyed this book so much I read it again. It think I enjoyed it more the second time around. Great ending! Seriously swoon worthy. And read it a 3rd time.
Content: Clean
Source: Audible
Originally read in October 2015 - Reread in March 2016 & again in June 2016
Profile Image for jade.
52 reviews18 followers
September 5, 2014
Until the ending sequence, the book was 4 stars for me. So many bits and pieces of the book reminded me of Pride and Prejudice in a good way. I was delighted to relive the joy of reading P&P. I love a damsel that's not easily taken in by the hero or faints at the first sight of him. Arabella, though inexperienced and quite innocent, had a sharp mind and acute self-awareness. She guarded her heart well (for good reasons) against the hero's advances. On the other hand, the hero, Mr. Beaumaris, was the most swoon-worthy character I've read in a long time. He had first rate mind and taste, a sharp tongue and elegant address, and superior ability to manipulate the fashionable crowd. Of course his prominent family and wealth also helped to sustain his healthy ego. He's like a more playful version of Mr. Darcy, smoother and a little less responsible, but underneath the proud person was the same heart of gold. He and Arabella made a good match in the game of courtship. Watching them out maneuver and second guess each other was the most entertaining part of the book.

Then came the event toward the end. It totally ruined it for me. Arabella, collected and sensible throughout the whole book, suddenly became silly beyond measure. The scheme she cooked up in her head was so against commonsense and inconsistent with her intellectual level, that I found the whole thing quite idiotic. I can't help but feeling disappointed since there are Georgette Heyer books with much better crafted ending, like The Grand Sophy, Venetia, and Frederica.

3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Woman Reading .
420 reviews254 followers
June 1, 2022
3.5 ☆

My first novel by Georgette Heyer was The Grand Sophy, which aside for a regrettable anti-Semitic component was a great deal of fun because of the irrepressible Sophy. I picked up Arabella wondering whether Heyer had created another memorably intrepid female protagonist.

About 19 or 20 years old, Arabella is the eldest daughter in Reverend Tallant's family, which numbers a staggering ten in total. As the second son of a low-ranked aristocratic family, the vicar is not wealthy and the size of his brood calls for daring efforts to secure their futures. Mrs. Tallant has contrived for her dear friend Lady Arabella Bridlington to sponsor her god-daughter and namesake in a season at London. Beautiful Arabella knows the prospects of her three younger sisters depend on her securing an eligible marital match.

The Tallant family resides in Yorkshire, far enough from London's news and attractions, that the young Tallants are essentially babes in the woods compared with the sophisticates who set the style. But courtesy of a broken carriage, Arabella meets one such trendsetter before she arrives at her godmother's door. Robert Beaumaris is wealthy, handsome, and widely acknowledged as the "Nonpareil" of the ton. He's eligible and he knows it. Despite her remote country origins, Arabella is no fool however for she knows he's out of her league.
It was not to be supposed that the haughty Mr. Beaumaris, related as he was to so many noble homes, so distinguished in his bearing, so much courted, and so much pursued, would ever have looked twice at a girl from a country vicarage, with neither fortune nor connections to recommend her to his notice.

But after she overhears him insult her, Arabella's prime character fault - her impetuousity - emboldens her to lie that she's an heiress in hiding. His character flaw, tinged with malice, surfaces in response. Thankfully, the ensuing events are played for gentle comedy instead of melodrama
Mr. Beaumaris, whose besetting sin was thought by many to be his exquisite enjoyment of the ridiculous...
The same delight in the ridiculous which had made him wear a dandelion in his buttonhole for three consecutive days for no better purpose than to enjoy the discomfiture of his misguided friends and copyists made him deeply appreciative of the situation which he now found himself in ...

The two protagonists in Arabella are very different from the counterparts in The Grand Sophy. Provincial Arabella Tallant doesn't have the fierceness of cosmopolitan Sophia Stanton-Lacy unless she comes face to face with someone in dire need; and then her compassion gives her all the zeal of a social reformer. Arabella takes notice of those whom others blatantly ignore in the name of "good manners."
It was fast being borne in upon Last Bridlington that the Reverend Henry Tallant was not only a grave handicap to his daughter's social advancement but a growing menace to her own comfort.

Robert Beaumaris slowly evolves over the course of this novel into someone of more substance. Many of the best speeches arise from his entanglement with of one of Arabella's rescues - a mongrel with "one ear disreputably flying." I was charmed but at the same time I had hoped that the wittiest banter would flow between the two main characters.

One of Arabella's siblings plays truant by arriving in London ready to experience all that the great glittering metropolis offers. He took over a couple of chapters; I had preferred less. And as Heyer demonstrated her command of young males' patois, the dialogue was incomprehensible.
"Felt desperate - shot the cat - felt better - kept on swallowing balls of fire - result, looking as queer as Dick's hatband when I saw him."

The ending was happy and yet a wee bit disappointing as well . This makes for a very old-school romance between an ingénue and an outwardly perfect hero. I should have expected this from a novel published in 1949, but my expectations had been surpassed by The Grand Sophy. Overall, Arabella is an amusing historical romance but not as hilarious and as gratifying as The Grand Sophy, which had set a high bar.
Profile Image for Theresa.
510 reviews1,561 followers
March 3, 2021
Reread March 2021 (4 stars)
Lovely story with some minor issues, but overall well worth the reread!

Read July 2019 (4 stars)
"Arabella" follows a heroine of the same name who is essentially a country bumpkin who grew up in a Vicarage among many brothers and sisters with a moderate fortune. Only when her rich godmother invites her to come stay with her in London does she first venture beyond the bounds of Yorkshire.

On her way there, however, he carriage breaks down outside the hunting lodge of London's best catch and favourite quarry of Society's ladies of marriageable age Mr Beaumaris, who assumes her plight of want of a means of transportation is simply a ruse to get near him. When Arabella overhears this, she contrives to tell him she is an heiress and quite sympathetic to his particular plight. Despite not believing her story for a minute, he finds her amusing and proceeds to spread this ruse around London, thereby - and by repeatedly bestowing his attentions upon her - making her the most sought after lady in London...

Arabella so far has been my least favorite Heyer heroine, simply because her main quality (in her love interest's eyes) seems to be her naiveté and country-bred ignorance of the big city and its customs. While I enjoyed that Arabella often flew in the face of propriety and followed her good heart to save an orphan or a stray dog, I cannot claim to be a fan of a relationship dynamic that is mainly characterized by one partner finding the other adorable beyond belief.

This also leads to me not really liking Beaumaris as a love interest. While Heyer's heroines almost always distinguish themselves by not entirely following the rules of society, in this particular case it seemed almost the entire reason for Beaumaris' regard for her, which I felt was quite unjust. Even when she fights tooth and nail to save an orphan boy, he seems more impressed with her doing so to flaunt societal norms rather than linger on her charitable nature and fundamentally good character that must have been the whole reason for her actions in the first place. Additionally, he plays some very unkind games with her at the end that - while she apparently found them charming - I honestly can't get behind. If you claim to love someone you shouldn't desire them to be in any state of prolonged distress, particularly if you know exactly how to relieve them of it, instead of using it to prove a point.

However, I must say I did quite enjoy the various charitable acts she forced Beaumaris to perform. Especially since this led to his relationship with Ulysses and the conversations between them I certainly wouldn't have wanted to miss.

Regardless of the main characters not always being my favourites, I still really enjoyed this novel and laughed out loud several times - which has now brought me firmly to the conclusion that I definitely should remain indoors anytime I pick up a Heyer novel so as not to entirely embarrass myself.

I love the adventures the characters get up to, the witty banter and dialogue and the dry humour all around. As I said, not my favourite, but the bar for Heyer is understandably fairly high after all.
Profile Image for Amy.
2,542 reviews382 followers
January 26, 2021
2021 Review
Ten years ago today I finished my first Georgette Heyer novel (aka, this one.) I wish I could say I fell utterly, completely, and totally under her spell from page 1. In reality, as you can see from my first review written with all the pretention of a 17-year-old:

"Though I struggled with giving it two or three stars, I think I will try and find more by this author."

And I did. You might say I never stopped. Though I started a skeptic, once I started reading Heyer I never went back. Little did I guess ten years ago that I was selling my soul to the Queen of Regency. But truly, I did and I have no regrets. Heyer's characters have been my friends, role-models, and obsession ever since.

Arabella fills a weird role in that obsession. I still enjoy the story. And of course, it was my First which gives it some particular status. But I'm not enamored with Mr. Beaumaris the same way I am with say, Alverstoke in Frederica. Beaumaris is alright. Arabella leads him on a merry chase. And at different periods I've liked him more or less. But I do think the star of this novel is Arabella.

And the thing is, she shouldn't be. I mean, she should be because she is the main character. But on paper, talk about an annoying character! She's beautiful, good-hearted, and cares for climbing boys and suffering servants and beaten dogs. Yes, she's impulsive, but since when is impulsiveness a real flaw in these type of books?

Except despite all that: she's not annoying. She's likable. She feels real. She's a young woman thoroughly enjoying her amazing success even while fully conscience that she shouldn't be in the position she is. Perhaps her very youthfulness works as a charm because she doesn't wallow in angst. She might feel self-recriminations and sorrow, but it usually passes after a good night's sleep.

Whatever the reason, I do love Arabella. Not as much as other Heyer heroines. I don't care as much for the younger type. But the fact that I can talk aobut "the younger types," the fact that I can spend hours analyzing the various good and bad points of Heyer heroes and heroines, the fact that some of these books I've got all but memorized, that all started here. A happy anniversary, indeed!

2017 Review - 5 Stars
Breaking from my usual method of leaving reviews and stars untouched and bumping this up to 5 stars because I absolutely love this book. I've worn out my copy re-reading it. It is comfortable and lovely and I still swoon happily over Arabella and Mr. Beaumaris. Never mind this book's imperfections, it is lovely. 17-year-old Amy just wasn't ready for the genius that is Heyer.

2011 Review - 3 Stars
standard Heyer Younger Brother, and he's great, Before going into detail about Arabella , I really should mention the book's author, because it was seeing her picture that first intrigued me into picking up the book. The black and white picture provided by goodreads represents a pretty woman of undeterminable age, unremarkable. Fashionable, maybe of the thirties, wearing a funky WW hat with a feather and fur coat, almost post-flapper. I pictured a character more dramatic and romantic, probably single. Her name seemed to be popping up everywhere, though, so with a bored burst of desperation, I got it from the library.
Arabella is the eldest daughter of a genteel parson and his wife. When a wealthy godmother offers to chaperone her for a season in London, it seems like the perfect opportunity for her to make an advantageous marriage that will make the fortunes of her eight siblings. A carriage accident throws her in the path of the extremely wealthy and arrogant Robert Beaumaris, most sought-after marriage catch in society. After accidently overhearing his disgusted opinion that she is nothing more than a fortune hunter who had contrived a way to find him even in the country, "Bella" impetuously decided to put him in his place by pretending to be an heiress of immense wealth. Things don't go quite as planned....suddenly almost all of fashionable London believes her to be a fabulously wealthy young woman, with fops and rakes, and fortune hunters alike begging for her hand, Bella starts to wonder if she has lost her only chance of happiness in one impetuous moment....
My thoughts went something like that.....
delightfully amusing
a good romp
really, quite amusing...
And all that by page 70!
I struggled through most of the book with a mixture of incredulity and intense amusment. The plot was forseeable and was so much like Pride and Prejudice, I kept thinking of my brother's comment after watching the P and P movie:
"Clearly, she didn't have much interation with guys."
In Heyer's defense, though, the characters were the best part of the book. In fact, they were really well done. Arabella could be sickeningly perfect at times, and utterly ridiculous by the end, but you loved her anyway. In fact, she reminded me of Bella from Our Mutual Friend. I espeically liked how she took the information about a season in London. It was believable. She wasn't perfect; she didn't take the information like a little saint, but was believably excited. And conscientious about her attire. She didn't fret over being the belle of the Season, but neither did she sucumb to some horrible evil of society. It was a good balance.
Her part of the romance, though, was slightly unlikely. While I could believe that Mr. Beaumaris fell in love with her for her character, she is repeatedly struck my how handsome he is....and little else. Her opinion of his character doesn't seem to improve much until maybe the very end, and I mean the very end. His actions pretty much saved her from going down in literature as eternally stupid, though I think she was made to sensible at the beginning to find her actions completely believable.
Robert Beaumaris was....amusing. In fact, I think I could have grown attached to his character if it weren't for two hints that he might have kept a mistress at some point. That alone ruined him for me. He was overly rich, spoiled and petted by society, and a great, great deal like Mr. Darcy. But not quite enough. I found his exploits amusing, though the author comparing his falling in love to a hunter stalking his prey was somewhat....disturbing. But over all, he was good enough, though perhaps a little romanticized.
Ms. Heyer, especially at the beginning, seems very fond of....adorning adjetives. There aren't hands, they're "graceful hands". The flowerly language seems to taper off by the end.
I liked Arabella's brother Bertram, who really was well done. It would have been quite easy to dislike his character, but Ms. Heyer does him just enough justice to make enjoyable.
Perhaps the best character, though, is Beaumaris's grandmother. What a character! Really, it is a pity she only got one scene. Between scorning female company, declaring her numerous children to be idiots, and startling even her grandson with her language, she was pretty much the best character xD

Like I said before, my two words for this book are incredulous and amused. Far fetched plot? Yeah. But it was kind of cute too xD Though I struggled with giving it two or three stars, I think I will try and find more by this author.
Profile Image for ᴥ Irena ᴥ.
1,649 reviews212 followers
February 14, 2017
Arabella has been waiting for me to get to it for quite some time. I don’t know if I should be kicking myself for not reading it earlier or be happy for enjoying it this much now. If there ever was a book whose blurb doesn’t do its job then Arabella is that book.

I loved the way Heyer introduced Arabella Tallant’s lovely family, the way they live, how much her parents love each other and their children, the way the impoverished Vicar educated his sons and daughters and so much more, but I didn’t like knowing that she will do something 'impetuos'. The moment she says she is an heiress she knows she made a mistake, but the story went too fast for her to do anything about it.
It is hilarious to see how all those fortune-hunting families are devastated when the Nonpareil gives all his attention to Arabella.

I loved both protagonists. Robert Beaumaris’s way of dealing with Arabella is lovely. The flow of the story is perfect. When the realization hits, you are neither surprised nor angry for waiting too long. It is simply perfect. They actually spend enough time together, getting to know each other better, with a lot of surprises along the way.

I was afraid her brother will hijack the story at one point, but although he did get more than enough pages of his own, in the end it all flawlessly connected with the main story and made sense.
There are so many things I loved in this book.

Arabella is even comforted by an urchin. Now, that encounter is one of the best moments in the story. Up until that moment Robert Beaumaris was amusing himself and falling in love without noticing, but this gave him the perfect opportunity to really see how extraordinarily unbent Arabella is when it comes to justice.

And to make it even better there is Ulysses. The way the dog and Robert Beaumaris adopted each other and the way Robert consulted the animal was beyond lovely.
Profile Image for Marquise.
1,660 reviews230 followers
November 28, 2015
There was a big joke played on me by the powers above, I think, because I picked up this novel without having the slightest of clues that this was Heyer's homage to "Pride and Prejudice." And it wasn't until I was about 70% into the story that I stopped giggling at Beaumaris' amusing conversations with the mongrel Ulysses long enough for the déjà vu to sink in. Wait a tad! I have read this before, haven't I? But by then it was too late: I had already been rereading Austen P&P in parallel for days.

I liked the calm, very simple plotline at the start of the book that brought in the small-town atmosphere of Austen's plots, away from the ton setting that seems like a rule for Regencies. I liked how the Tallant family had a "we're a clan and we support each other even if one amongst us isn't especially sharp" mentality, and act like a real family that's not either dysfunctional or comically messed up for the sake of the leading member, who then gets to be the sensible head amongst them. For Arabella Tallant, our heroine, is not exactly like that.

It's when the plot moved to London that I started to lose interest, at first because of the implausibilities Heyer uses to cause the hero and heroine to meet, and later because of the turns towards the silly that the plot took. Like when Beaumaris and she meet, it's in a circumstance that, frankly, is way too convenient and so contrived that one is tempted to excuse Beaumaris' conviction that the "accident" was staged outside his door in order for the hopeful chit to ensnare him for a husband. Yes, in short, the man is justified in his belief seeing how the accident's circumstances are too convenient to have been a product of chance, and is therefore justified in thinking her a gold-digger. And she makes things worse by lying that no, she isn't one, au contraire, m'sieur, it is she the one sought after by fortune hunters. I can understand she did it out of pride, but it was nonetheless immensurably stupid, for she didn't even stop to think she was going to be presented in society, so whatever false image she created of herself was bound to explode in her face, and besides, if she was wounded by such a remark, could she not have explained her circumstances and even called the man out on his poor manners? That's what Lizzy did with Darcy, who wasn't remotely as justified in his prejudiced first assessment of her like Beaumaris was in his of Arabella. Instead, she has to complicate things by becoming a fraud, and it's only because Beaumaris finds it amusing and decides to play the Big Joke of the Decade on the foolish aristocrats and fops of the ton by lending credibility to her lies, thus protecting her with his reputation, that she's not exposed or ridiculed or humiliated. She got off easy, if you ask me. And her brother as well, thanks to Beaumaris acting the chevalier and paying off the boy's gambling debts and rescuing the silly chit.

I realise this was meant as a comedy, but the easy way all is solved, the lack of consequences, and his flippant attitude about the situation weren't making a positive impression on me. And I'm starting to suspect that such immature lassies appear with frequency in Heyer's novels, particularly because she seems to repeat the formula of sensible and hot older male + silly chit = Regency romance plot a time too many. I barely read 4 or 5 of her novels, and the pattern is already very evident.

The subplot with the stray dog was a funny addition, but I am not sure it was enough to compensate for the plot's deficiencies. With this novel, I came to the conclusion that Heyer's greatest weakness is in characterisation, which is shallow in general but is more keenly noticeable in her women. She also plays fast and loose with plausibility and believability, but that doesn't always bother me because by the very nature and style of her writing, that is: comedic, generally, the story depends on those twists and turns and coincidences at precise points to work and move forward.
Profile Image for Kavita.
752 reviews361 followers
August 24, 2020
It was nice to read about Arabella after reading about Judith Taverner in The Regency Buck. I could not help contrasting the two heroines, especially since they were both country bred and were off to London for the first time to make a splash. But whereas Judith comes off as childish and impetuous, Arabella has a more mature personality. Mr. Beaumaris is also a much more pleasant hero than the Earl of Worth.

So the story goes like this: Arabella is the daughter of a country vicar and brought up to be more interested in erudition and kindness than in gossip or fashion. When the time came for her to marry, she was sent off to London to a rich godmother to net a rich man so she could help her brothers and sisters. En route, she is forced to take refuge at a house when her carriage breaks down, and she meets two men, one of them Mr. Beaumaris, who was convinced that Arabella is pursuing him for his wealth. She overhears him saying so to his friend and immediately convinces them that she is wealthy beyond belief. This quickly spreads all over London, and our heroine has to face the repercussions while falling in love with Beaumaris for real.

I really enjoyed this novel. Arabella is innocent but no fool. She refuses to take advantage of her pretensions. Beaumaris is not the 'bored of life' man that is such a cliché in these novels. He is a trendsetter and is enchanted by Arabella's kindness to everyone, irrespective of their circumstances. The two become friends and gradually fall in love with each other. It was very believable too. The supporting characters were interesting as well. Overall, a great fun read!
Profile Image for Jan.
860 reviews161 followers
August 18, 2022
A book I first read and loved as a teen, and it's never really gotten old. Amazing. Ms Heyer has such a deft, light touch. Her characterisations are brilliant, including the secondary characters. Bertram's friend Felix, for example, the loyal but inarticulate friend, is hilarious. And you just fall in love with Arabella's whole family, the Tallants. Both parents and children are all so realistically drawn, and so likeable. Even though they only appear directly in the first section of the book, (except for Bertram), you feel like you know them. The scene with Robert's crusty old grandmother is also so well done.

Robert and Arabella are well-suited, and it's a lovely romance, with a funny meet-cute. Robert is a mature man who has never yet met the woman he wants to marry. It's not insta-love by any means. They are both attracted, but it takes a while for them to really 'see' each other, and Robert then falls deeply in love, something he recognises and fully accepts once it's happened. Arabella is a woman of some personal strength and integrity, but she is very young and somewhat naive and impulsive. Robert's patience with her as he woos her is charming.

There are only a few instances in the book where we see (or are given hints of) the deep feelings Arabella is developing for Robert, which is unlike the more recent style of romance writing. However the final scenes, when they finally kiss (!) are very sweet and well worth the wait. The book does end quite suddenly though, which seems to be a common thing in Heyer's books. I would love an epilogue!

As well as the lovely romance, in the book, Heyer also shows her awareness of social issues of the Regency period, and the hypocrisy of many in society who chose to close their eyes to the problems, such as the cruel plight of chimney sweep boys.

Overall a wonderful book. Quick and easy to read, and, to use a Heyeresque term, just delightful. One of her best books IMO.
Profile Image for Lori.
165 reviews6 followers
April 1, 2016
Well, this book was just so much fun to read!! I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. It is well paced and ridiculously diverting. Of course, it has a lot of the ingredients found in Georgette Heyer's (brain candy) regencies, such as a debutante seeking an advantageous marriage, a swoon-worthy hero, trials and tribulations, and a misguided sibling. Blend well and you have a very appealing regency novel. Arabella Tallant arrives in London, fresh from a country vicarage and is shocked by the selfishness of the rich and fashionable. Arabella, also referred to as the "little Tallant", draws our swoon-worthy hero into the rescue of more than one unfortunate creature and this is exactly what makes her so engaging. Mr. Beaumaris, the devilishly handsome Nonpareil, agrees to assist her and bears the resulting disruptions in his life very well. (May I just say here, that should a film adaptation of Arabella be in the works, Richard Armitage would make an excellent Robert Beaumaris!!) Having said that, I adored Arabella, who is not a milksop but rather a kindhearted soul with enough gumption to tackle any injustice she might encounter. Mr. Beaumaris is a trendsetter with pleasing address who I believe loved the ethereal Arabella from the start. Yes, this novel has a hint of Austen's Pride and Prejudice but not enough to diminish my pleasure in reading it. It will be difficult to find a hero I can like better than Robert Beaumaris in Georgette Heyer's novels but I will keep reading them to find out. This story captured my heart because I really liked both hero and heroine for their abundant redeeming qualities. A very worthwhile read!!!

March 31, 2016 reread
Georgette Heyer's wit is dazzling! This is just as yummy the second time around!
Buddy read with my friend, Anne!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,003 followers
August 9, 2013
I'm on a spree when it comes to Heyer: I went by the library today and picked up five new-to-me Heyer novels. Happyfuntimes. I particularly needed something light yesterday, so Arabella was perfect. I'll confess I wasn't too impressed by the start, and there was a whiff of Pride and Prejudice-ness about it that put me off a bit, but both protagonists grew on me.

I had major embarrassment squick at first, with the silly trick Arabella pulls, but as the novel developed and her kindly nature became clearer, I was ready to forgive her -- and her silly mistake was, of course, pretty justified. I took an instant dislike to Robert Beaumaris, but his behaviour over Jemmy and especially Ulysses won me over. Some of the best giggly bits were Robert's 'conversations' with Ulysses.

In the end, having fallen for both protagonists, I was more than satisfied by the end. Especially because Robert doesn't quite melt into a puddle of goo! I'm a little disappointed Arabella doesn't convince him to do something about Leaky Peg, though... That would make for an amusing scene.

Why I ever disdained reading Georgette Heyer's work, I don't know.
Profile Image for Teresa.
515 reviews111 followers
July 8, 2018
I haven't read this in years and I absolutely loved it! The Tallant family are a delight. It was chapter three before Arabella left for London and I must confess I would have liked it to be a couple of more. I loved the family dynamic here and would have liked to have spent more time with them.
It is definitely one of her more witty books. I laughed out loud more than once. The cant in this is brilliant and some of the names that Heyer comes up with are priceless. Leaky Peg and Quartern Sue are inspired. We have some wonderful fops and dandies in this book.
One thought though, if people did carry on this way in the Regency period then the arrogance and snobbery is breathtaking. Even, in the beginning, Beaumaris is unbearable but the love of a good woman conquers all.
A wonderful read that I'd highly recommend.
Profile Image for Caz.
2,621 reviews993 followers
December 19, 2014
I've given this an A for narration and A- for content at AudioGals, so I'm bumping up to 5 stars.

Arabella is one of my favourite Heyer Regencies, so I was delighted when I learned that Naxos was bringing out a new audio version with Phyllida Nash narrating. Ms Nash earned an A from me for her superb narration of Venetia, so I had high expectations. I’m pleased to report that she doesn’t disappoint.

Arabella Tallant is the eldest daughter of the large family of a country vicar. When her Godmother offers to bring her out and give her a London season, Arabella’s mother is delighted, and hopeful that Arabella’s beauty will attract a wealthy suitor. The young lady in question is naturally excited at the prospect, and determined to fulfil her mother’s wishes by finding a husband of means who will be able to offer financial assistance to her family.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Profile Image for Miranda Davis.
Author 5 books263 followers
June 1, 2015
My all time favorite Georgette Heyer novel is Frederica. That said, I re-read Arabella, my Mom's ATFGHN, and I have to agree this is wonderful. The H/h interact a great deal and it's wonderful fun to read. In some of GH's books, the H/h don't actually have much face-time (Sprig Muslin, Charity Girl, just for instance).

Arabella is a gentlemanly Yorkshire vicar's beautiful eldest daughter being sent by her practical mother to London in the hopes of making an eligible match. Mr. Beaumaris is a much-hunted bachelor cynical about every woman who 'happens' his way, including Arabella, whose old-fashioned travel carriage broke down near the gentleman's hunting box during a rain storm. He declaims to his friend when they were alone that such excuses are a dime a dozen; ambitious women are always flinging themselves at him and his money. Arabella overhears this and lets him know, that she, too, hopes to have a Season in London free of the slavering money-grubbers after her wealth. As her father would remind her, pride goeth before the fall.

Beaumaris is amused, not taken in by her airs (because she is utterly naive in other ways) and he convinces his friend she is what she says, a great heiress from the North. This sets in motion her very eventful and successful Season in Town. From amused, Mr. Beaumaris becomes grudgingly charmed, then smitten, then responsible for a number of her good deeds and a brother who's had a run of bad luck. (His new dependents include a climbing boy, a mongrel who enslaves most of his staff including his very temperamental French chef, and if Arabella had had her way, a helpful whore named Leaky Peg.) He does all this in his now earnest pursuit of Arabella, who keeps him at arm's length rather than let her heart be broken by the inveterate flirt.

All the while, however, he's playing a teasing, cat-and-mouse game with her, at first to amuse himself with her discomfort as things get Out Of Hand, then hoping she'll trust him enough to 'fess up to her deception. He waits and watches her, untangles the messes with humor, aplomb and forbearance. His conversations with the dog about his difficulties with her are endearing and v. funny. Arabella is a great gal, full of spunk and honorable instincts, aghast at what a moment of impetuous pride has done. She feel honor-bound to refuse all offers of marriage, even Mr. Beaumaris' because of her fib.

And he must somehow bring things about. A wonderful, lovely, heartfelt and funny read. (But I still love Frederica a bit more.)
Profile Image for Tijana.
732 reviews188 followers
January 9, 2022
Pa okej, ovo je istorijski ljubić i radi to što ljubići rade, nema laži - nema prevare. Izgleda da stvarno nijedan njen roman ne dobacuje do Kotiljona i njegovih očaravajuće blesavih protagonista, ali možda je to bilo nerealno očekivati. Veliki plus za to što autorka stvarno u prste poznaje kulturnu istoriju, jezik i etikeciju vremena o kome piše, to je bilo i ostalo retkost kako u ovom žanru tako i van njega.
Profile Image for QNPoohBear.
2,919 reviews1,469 followers
January 17, 2015
Arabella Tallant is the eldest daughter of a Yorkshire clergyman. She loves her lively family though sometimes her siblings argue and Papa's moralizing is a bit too strong. When her rich godmother invites Arabella to a Season in London, Arabella's feelings are torn. She doesn't want to leave her family or put her father to such expense, but she does sort of want to see London. With her father's blessing, some careful saving on her mother's part, and a an ancient traveling carriage provided by her uncle, the Squire, Arabella and a chaperon are on their way to London. When the carriage breaks down, the ladies are forced to take shelter at the hunting box of Robert Beaumaris, pink of the ton. Mr. Beaumaris reveals privately to his friend that he thinks the accident was manufactured in order to snare him. Overhearing the conversation, Arabella's pride wounded, she declares she's a secret heiress sought after my fortune hunters in her native Yorkshire. She reveals she doesn't want anyone to know her secret. The gentlemen promise to keep mum but Lord Fleetwood, a sad rattle, spreads the word throughout the ton. Beaumaris aids his friend just for his own amusement to see what might happen next. He could never expect to have to rescue all manner of wretches and he certainly never thought the joke would be on him. Arabella enjoys the attention of Mr. Beaumaris but she knows he's only trifling with her and she is determined to play the game. She never expected to fall in love. How can she ever marry someone who believes a falsehood about her? How can she marry above her station? She feels pressured to choose someone to help her family, but whom can she choose who will please her and is not a fortune hunter?

This is Georgette Heyer's Pride and Prejudice. Some of the phrases are even borrowed from Jane Austen. The story is unique enouugh to be one of Heyer's best on it's own. The level of period correct detail is astounding. It's all woven seamlessly into the story to make the reader experienc evverything with the characters. Modern readers can even check her facts and read the same issue of Ladies' Monthly Museum that Arabella's sisters were reading in the opening chapter. Pretty amazing for a book written in 1949!

The plot moves pretty quickly and though it's predictable, you can't help reading with anticipation to see how things are worked out. I love Arabella's compassion for others and only Heyer can make a tragic situation into a comic scene. Bertram's subplot is a bit tedious. She used that plot device one too many times. It drags the love story out but brings it about to it's conclusion at that same time. I didn't like the ending very much. I wish Arabella had trusted Beaumaris sooner and come to her senses before things got that far. It wasn't very amusing for Arabella.

The characters are first rate. Arabella is young and a bit impetuous, but not silly like most of Heyer's other young heroines. She never loses sight of who she really is and the morals her father has given her. She's a kind, compassionate young woman and a realistic one. Arabella is very good and sometimes selfless but she also has her faults and that's what makes her enjoyable. I'm not sure what to make of Beaumaris. One chapter he's cynical and rude, and in others he shows his kinder, softer side. He's a complicated character which makes him realistic and three-dimensional.

My favorite character is Ulysses, the mongrel dog. He's so funny and steals every scene he's in. Mr. Scunthorpe is also a favorite. He's not very bright buthe's a good friend. Jemmy the climbing boy is also a fabulous character.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Susan in NC.
842 reviews
December 30, 2021
12/2021 - rereading for the Heyer group’s January read, this is a favorite for me! I’m listening along to the audiobook with the fabulous narrator, Phyllida Nash - luckily my library had it, as it has disappeared from Audible before I got my own copy.

2008 review: Once again, I am amazed at Georgette Heyer's ability to make me laugh out loud - her books are so much fun - dialogue, characters, plotlines, etc. I can't recommend her enough - you don't even have to buy them, even though the reissues currently available are gorgeous - check your public library, they are bound to have at least one of her books.

Arabella Tallant is the eldest daughter of a very respectable but awe-inspiring vicar in Yorkshire. When her sensible and loving Mama decides it is time to appeal to her wealthy godmother for a Season in London, Arabella is soon on her way. Her carriage breaks down during the long, arduous journey outside of the gates of the country home of Robert Beaumaris, leader of London society and much sought-after by marriage-minded mamas; so much so that he is convinced that Arabella rigged the stunt to bring herself to his attention! She is so outraged when she hears him telling his friend about the plot he imagines she is trying to put in motion, that she lets him think she is a much sought-after heiress herself, seeking the anonymity of a Season in town to escape the constant barrage of fortune-hunting potential grooms. Beaumaris decides for his own cynical amusement to let the word be spread she is an heiress, and sits back to watch her become the Toast of the Town under false pretenses.

As these two continue to cross swords, the obvious happens, but the predictable plot and the secondary characters Heyer so beautifully develops along the way show why Heyer really is the Queen of Regency Romance! What a hoot!
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 27 books5,589 followers
January 9, 2020
Pretty sure this is the one I read that I thought was just "meh," and accidentally reviewed as Venetia. I looooove Venetia! This one, not so much.

A young clergyman's daughter, needs to marry rich, etc. Usually the plots aren't full of surprises, but it's the characters that keep you reading. As I recall, Arabella wasn't especially clever or fun, and there were no quirky secondary characters of note.

Update, 2020: I seriously remember the beginning of this book so well, which is a lot like a Noel Streatfeild novel: vicarage full of children, what shall we do with no money, etc. I remember nothing of the rest of this book, except that I didn't particularly like Arabella herself. However, I just listened to the audiobook on a whim . . . and how did I not remember how great Mr. Beaumaris was?! I had forgotten about Arabella forcing him to adopt a stray dog, as well as a chimney sweep's boy! I still don't think Arabella herself is particularly great as a character, you get no real sense for if she's doing this because she is clever and compassionate, or because she's silly and doesn't know what's
happening. But a lot of the action deals with Mr. Beaumaris, and Arabella's naive chump of a brother Bertram, who comes to town secretly and gets into trouble, and those stories are far more interesting!
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,295 reviews29 followers
December 18, 2022
4.5 stars. Hoorah for Heyer, who creates such vivid characters. In this book, memorable secondary characters are Bella’s family, including her brother Bertram and his nodcock friend Scunthorpe, Leaky Peg, Old Grimsby, the boy Jemmy, the pompous Lord Bridlington, and others. (The best cover art shows the curricle with Arabella and Ulysses the stray mutt. )
Hooray for Arabella herself, a warm-hearted fixer from Heythram, a vicarage near Harrowgate, in Yorkshire. And oorah for Robert Beaumaris, 30 years old, spoiled, and sardonic — but not always — with cool gray eyes and masculine grace.
‘The Nonpareil – none other! Quite the most noted figure in society since poor Brummell was done-up!’

And cheers for the little dog, too!
Chase that cur out of here, Joe! – If your honour will –’
‘Do nothing of the sort, Joe!’ interrupted Mr Beaumaris.
‘Is he yours sir?’ gasped the landlord.
‘Certainly he is mine. A rare specimen: his family tree would surprise you!’

Really enjoy this one. Light, humorous, and heartwarming, it’s set in London in 1817 after the Napoleonic Wars ended, and after Beau Brummel quarreled with the Regent and headed for France. Heyer imbues this tale with vivid period detailing — descriptions of art (Elgin’s marbles) and fashion, injustice, gambling, and the who's who of London society.

Examples of Heyer’s historical research: Mr. Beaumaris spoke to a chief magistrate named Sir Nathaniel Conant. In reality, Conant was knighted in 1813. He did hold the office of Chief Magistrate of Bow Street. Also, regarding Bertram’s obsession, a cornet was - at that time - the lowest grade of commissioned officer in a British cavalry troop, a second lieutenant, and the Hussars were the most elite unit.

There’s heartfelt compassion and passionate conviction to rival Dickens, as when Arabella rescued a terrified climbing boy from his heartless master. Heyer perhaps researched the court case at the time, for Arabella refers to the fate of the Master (Chimney) Sweep, Mr William Molys, whose trials for the death of a boy in his employ took place in 1816.
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Yet this book is also leavened by humor. I just loved the humor, especially when the ridiculous “Poodle” Byng took exception to the scruffy mongrel, Ulysses. Loved getting the hero's perspective via fireside chats with Ulysses. The interplay between Arabella and Beaumaris is light and appealing.
He was so much surprised that momentarily he let his hands drop. The grays broke into a canter, and Miss Tallant kindly advised him to mind his horses. The most notable whip in the country thanked her for her reminder, and steadied his pair. Miss Tallant consoled him for the chagrin he might have been supposed to feel by saying that she thought he drove very well. After a stunned moment, laughter welled up within him. His voice shook perceptibly as he answered: ‘You are too good, Miss Tallant!’

“Mr Beaumaris’s yellow-winged phaeton-and-four, which he appeared to be able to turn within a space so small as to seem impossible”

The sports-car racing machine of Regency England, the high-perch phaeton had two big wheels and two small, with the driver sitting higher than the horses:

Arabella’s Family:
Jack /Baby Jack - the youngest, in nursery with old Nurse. Later, Jemmy the climbing boy is judged to be only 7 or 8, “scarcely older than my little brother at home!” so Jack might be 4-6, “waving goodbye with his fat little hands”
Betsy - age 9 - “Elizabeth, the youngest of the Reverend Henry Tallant’s handsome daughters” (a bit sickly in Yorkshire winters)
Harry - age 11 - robust, determined to follow Nelson into the Royal Navy
Meg - age 15 - “Margaret Tallant, a buxom fifteen-year-old”
Sophia - 16 -“once Sophia had outgrown the over-plumpness of her sixteen years” she might rival Bella for beauty
Bertram 17 -18 - “Bertram was, after all, not yet eighteen.” And a few months later: “Bertram naturally did not confess that he was only just eighteen years old.”
Arabella 19 or 20 - age not stated, but older than Bertram and younger than James
James- “elder brother James, at present up at Oxford, prior to taking Orders” (to graduate into the clergy, so probably about 22 or 23)
Her papa the Vicar is Henry Tallant, married to the beautiful Sophia
The living of Heythram was respectable, being worth some three hundred pounds a year, in addition to which the present incumbent was possessed of a small independence; but the claims of a numerous family made the recarpeting of passages more a thing to be dreamed of than an allowable expense. The Vicar, himself the son of a landed gentleman, had married the beautiful Miss Theale, who might have been expected to have done better for herself than to have thrown her cap over the windmill for a mere younger son, however handsome he might be. Indeed, it had been commonly said at the time that she had married to disoblige her family, and might, if she had chosen, have caught a baronet on her hook. Instead she had fallen in love with Henry Tallant at first sight.

Buying a Military Commission, from Random Bits of Fascination :
In the 1800s the English laws of primogeniture, intended to preserve the integrity of large landed estates, made it a challenge for younger sons of the landed gentry to establish themselves in life. If their family did not possess an additional estate for them to inherit or they lacked some other relative to provide an inheritance, younger sons had little choice but to make their own way in the world. The question was how to do so and not lose their status as gentlemen.
Four professions offered them the opportunity to do so, the traditional ‘learned’ professions: the church, the law and medicine and services as a military officer. All required a significant investment in the way of education or purchase of a commission, and provided an income disconnected from sullying one’s hands with work.

In the Regency era, the highest status gentlemanly profession was a military officer, a position requiring a purchased commission…In the Regency era, the belief was that paying for the rank meant that only men of fortune, character, and who had a real interest in the fate of the nation would be drawn to the military, thus reducing the number of unworthies serving in the officers’ ranks. Moreover, since officers ‘owned’ their commission, they would be more responsible with their ‘property’ than someone with nothing to lose. Furthermore, private ownership of rank also implied that since officers did not owe their rank to the King, they would be less likely to be used by the King against the people.

Purchase of commissions also served a practical purpose. The price paid for a commission served as a sort of nest egg for the officer, returned to him when he ‘sold out’ and retired. Thus there was no need to provide pensions for retiring officers, a definite advantage to the crown.

Audiobook Afterthought:
I’ve read this book several times. Recently I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Phyllida Nash. She is a very good narrator, but not the ideal reader for these characters, in my opinion.
Profile Image for Seema Khan.
92 reviews32 followers
October 31, 2020
5* for this Georgette Heyer book for the only reason that it kept me wholly entertained and engrossed. Full marks to Georgette Heyer to have put in a book that kept a reader hooked onto it without much effort with a great deal of humour and intrigue and an ardent desire to know the next event in the story. I had kept postponing the reading of this book for a leisurely period of time for me to enjoy it, and very honestly the postponement paid off and I did enjoy myself a lot!
The story is about Arabella, who is a Country Parson's daughter, and whose only hope for a respectable and comfortable life, for herself and her siblings, is by forming an eligible attachment through marriage. Through circumstances, she is led into hoaxing herself as an heiress and is then led into the repercussions of that one lie. The instigator to the lie, Mr Beaumaris, gets himself involved into Arabella's affairs, initially purposefully, and later on circumstantially and though is the reason for her pretence, also turns out to be the best and true sympathiser and friend Arabella could have. How they eventually fall in love and lead the other to understand the ways and thinking's of their parts of the world forms the story of the book.

Beginning with the protagonist, Arabella Tallant. A country bred Parson's daughter, grown under the strictest proprieties and labouring under the intense desire for a good London Season to make an eligible match, just to please her mother, though very naive is also no one's fool. She knows and acknowledges her position in society (much to the surprise of Lady Bridlington), but at the same time blends spotlessly into the role of an heiress and a woman of fashion. But for all the pretence, she is pretty conscientious (though at one point she is ready to feed the conscience laudanum just for the sake of her brother) and is very clear on what her duty to her family is and what she actually desires. She is a righteous female and had sometimes kept me thinking for her raising her voice against inhumanities and cruelty to animals that she was a Twenty First century soul of a girl trapped in a body born in and belonging to the nineteenth century and carried there through a time machine. A strong character for a heroine and very understandable and relatable.

What I felt was instead of Arabella, the book was primarily dedicated and most flourishing towards Mr. Robert Beaumaris. I may be wrong, but this is my perception because it is he who invariably comes out as the most catching, holding and retaining part of the book. Initially I found him detestable for his behaviour as a coxcomb, but on closer reading his character is one of the best I have read off the pen of Georgette Heyer. Enigmatic and elegant, enamoured with the impeccable signature GH hero witty dialogues, Mr Beaumaris offers us a hero who though a pink of the ton and an arbiter of fashion and leader of Society, can love and care for a parson's family as his own just for the sake of the girl he loves. He is not only led into considering his ways as fickle but also the sympathiser in him is awakened leading him into adopting a chimney boy and a stray cur, again just for the sake of Arabella. And the best part about him and the book? his monologues or rather 'conversations' with Ulysses! They kept me hooked to the book they were so entertaining! It can be seen that for all his supposed haughtiness and gravity by people, he is in fact turned into a very likable person after he is treated indifferently by Arabella, and not withstanding that, there is also some inherent goodness in him. For one, he never fell dupe to Arabella's hoax of being an heiress and knows that she is almost penniless or rather not an heiress from the beginning of their acquaintance, so money was never a concern for him and he loves her for herself. Secondly, when he does acknowledge his feelings for her he leaves no stone unturned just to ease her life. And thirdly, he respects and feels Arabella as his equal (can be witnessed in the last scene, when Arabella kisses his hand and he warns her never to dare do such a thing again!) These features of his character make him much endearing to the reader and one that shall have a distinct image in the reader's mind even after the last pages have been turned.

The secondary characters, chiefly Lady Bridlington and Bertram Tallant have characteristics similar to many GH secondary characters, but all the same, they add a flavour to the book which keeps the story moving on parallel lines, more so in Bertram's case. As always tertiary and common characters created by Georgette Heyer in her Regency world make cameos through Arabella as well.

Overall the story is fascinating and likable and a must read especially for the the build up it has through to the end and for the witty cynicisms and odd circumstances very interestingly portrayed by GH.
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,039 reviews463 followers
March 29, 2021
I loved Arabella's dauntless spirit and kind heart. The trope in this novel has often been imitated in countless retellings, but none of them could ever touch this masterpiece. (The dog rescue and subsequent escapades had me wheezing with laughter!)

Profile Image for Emilia Barnes.
539 reviews94 followers
March 2, 2021
Despite Beaumaris, this is an enjoyable Heyer classic.

Another re-read: I stand by what I said about Beaumaris, but this is still an absolute delight of a book and Arabella one of my favourite of Heyer's heroines. I can't be the only one hoping/imagining that she does manage to do something for Leaky Peg in the end?

Update: I just wanted to clarify my statement about Beaumaris, so here it goes:

Warning, spoilers will be tripping over each other below this line.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: I don’t begrudge anybody liking Mr B. Sometimes we like people in fiction, even when they do unlikeable things. There’s no shame in that. I get you.

BUT. I feel like people focus on the fact that Mr B adopts a puppy for Arabella, without noticing that what he did to her was unbearably cruel. There’s a reason people don’t notice. Georgette Heyer doesn’t want them to. She masks it all underneath a façade of puppy-loving dry-wit, so that you focus on that and not on the fact that for the vast majority of the novel Mr B makes Arabella abjectly miserable, and that, had he not fallen in love with her, he would have utterly ruined her and her entire family.

Let me elaborate.

In the beginning, Arabella overhears Mr B casually assuming that any woman who happens to be in distress near him must be after him and his money (Already I want to punch him). Arabella is angry about it, (which, let’s be fair, she has every right to be). So she comes up with this idea that she’ll pretend to be an heiress hunted by everybody. She’s young and naïve and Mr B is a man about town, so of course he sees through her little charade at once. So far so good. But then, instead of accepting this slight humbling and leaving Arabella be, what does he do? He plays along. He confirms that he knows the family to his friend, knowing full well he’ll blab about it in town. And then, to make sure everybody notices, he courts Arabella just a little bit.

So now Arabella is trapped in her lie without any means of escape. Notice that all this time Mr B has all the power, Arabella has none. Mr B can literally make or break her, and he knows this. He doesn’t know that Arabella is a good person who doesn’t deserve this kind of punishment, but let’s be fair here… how bad would she have to be to deserve this kind of punishment? All she has done was poke fun at him a little, and his retaliation? I mean, who seriously believes that he acts in any way in proportion to the offence?

Anyway, so now Arabella is trapped. Her poor family had gathered all their funds together to bring out their daughter in the big city, so that she might marry well, and thanks to one rich, arrogant dude she can’t. She can’t marry anybody, because he made it impossible.

So then Mr B starts noticing her himself. This makes it worse for Arabella, because Mr B’s attention attracts everybody’s attention, since he’s an arbiter of fashion in town. She convinces him to do a few good deeds, though let’s be fair here again: he’s stinking rich and should really have been doing this stuff all along.

When he proposes to her for the first time she says no. We, the readers, know that she loves him, because Heyer wants her to love him. Mr B knows that she loves him because he has the highest opinion of himself in the world. Of course she must want him – he assumed so from the very beginning, remember? So of course when she says no, she must just be saying it because he put her in an impossible position.

They do get engaged eventually. He knows she is only doing this because she wants to help her brother but once again assumes that she would marry him for real, because who wouldn't want to marry him, right?

So, since he is so sure that nobody could possibly not want to marry him, the Great Beaumaris, he decides to go to visit her parents to tell them everything. He never asks her about this, by the way, never consults her, just informs her after the fact (I swear, if a guy did that to me, I would become physically violent). I realise he’s a fictional character working in a fictional universe and a different time period with different standards but… this is terrible.

Finally, he organises an elopement, which means that she now must marry him whatever the truth of her feelings, because he has made it literally impossible for her to a) marry anybody else and b) maintain a shred of a reputation without marriage to him.

He has her literally cornered. She is entirely at his mercy. He has made a joke of her, stripped her of any credibility in town, robbed her of the potential of even meeting any other legitimate suitor, let alone accepting a proposal, exposed her to her parents and pushed her to the brink of ruin, LITERALLY BECAUSE OF ONE SILLY PRANK.

So Arabella agrees to marry him for real this time. And you reach the last page thinking: well, at least she taught him to think of others for a change, right? But then he refuses to help Leaky Peg. So all the good deeds he’d done before were just for show, and didn't mean anything. He did them because he wanted Arabella, but now Arabella is his and will be forever, so he doesn’t need to bother ever again.

I like Arabella the novel, because it’s a really competently constructed comedy of manners, with great jokes and a wonderful heroine. Arabella might be one of my favourite Heyer heroines ever.
But Mr B is thoroughly reprehensible to me. I just can’t like him.

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