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Cousin Kate

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  5,552 ratings  ·  434 reviews
Kate Malvern, rescued from penury by her aunt Minerva, finds the grand household at Staplewood very unhomelike — even family dinners are formal. When she begins to suspect the shocking reason for Minerva’s generosity, there is no one to confide in.
Hardcover, First Edition, 318 pages
Published 1968 by The Bodley Head
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Average rating 3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,552 ratings  ·  434 reviews

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
In Cousin Kate, one of Georgette Heyer's later books (written in 1968, 46 years after her first book, The Black Moth, was published), Georgette tried a Gothic spin on one of her historical romances, with distinctly mixed results.


Kate Malvern, alone in the world at age 23, has just lost her governess job because the wrong guy made a pass at her, can't get another job, and has no money and nowhere to go except her old nanny's home, which isn't a good permanent solution for her. Her devoted and loving nanny, Sarah
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
Apr 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Heyer completists

The end of the 60s & beginning of the 70s had quite a craze for Gothic fiction. Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier had cemented it's place as a modern classic & the works of the prolific Victoria Holt were widely read. Some established authors wanted to add their own twists to this fad.

Agatha Christie tried her hand at a Modern Gothic with Endless Night by Agatha Christie I reread this last year & it remains one of my favourites from Christie's later works. Unfortunately GH's attempt at a Regency Gothic wasn't quite so
Ruth Turner

The romance was really a side issue in this book, with none of the feeling that Georgette Heyer has imbued in her other Regency Romances. The love story developed way too quickly and I thought Philip and Kate rather insipid.

However, apart from the romance, this was a good read, and I have to say that I loved old Mr Nid. His conversations were priceless!
Nov 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: if you like Gothic and don't mind a slower story with a happy/sad ending
I do believe I am in shock. What a morbid, Ghastly, Horrid ending. I rather wish I hadn't finished it at night. How on earth did it end on a happy note?

I really have to think about this review.

I've thought about it

I found it almost lyrical, I could see the beautiful still water that haunted Torquil, I felt his anguish over his dreams. His lingering worry that someone didn't have his best interests at heart. Poor Torquil.

Minerva was so like Aunt Em from Death in Kenya. They both did diff/>I've
Feb 17, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance
The one where penniless, orphaned Kate is taken in by an aunt she's never met, and begins to discover strange things happening in the manor.

This was two different books that didn't mesh well together. The romance conflicts with the suspense in a way that takes the power out of both of them. By the time Kate finds out she could be in real danger, she's already got an ally who's more powerful than any of the forces that threaten her. And in a romance context I accept women agreeing to marry men t
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a removal from Heyer's usual light-hearted and witty romances. The romance is low-key while suspense is very high. Kate is a penniless but well-bred orphan who tries her hand at being a governess but is unable to sustain a position. She takes refuge with her old nurse, Sarah, who promptly writes to Kate's father's sister.

Auntie (Lady Broom) enters and sweeps Kate away to Staplewood, the stately manor home of the Brooms. Here, Kate is lavished with riches and is entreated to lead the lif
About a three and a half star book rounded down because Georgette Heyer herself sets such a high bar. Gothic is not my favorite genre and the shocking ending cast quite a pall over the romance. Still, I enjoyed Kate as a spunky, sensible heroine, as well as Kate's loyal and wise old nurse Sarah and Sarah's redoubtable father, Mr Nidd (who provided much-needed comic relief).
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a story! I can't say this is my favorite Heyer, but it was certainly gripping. The characterization and plotting really rocked!
Melissa McShane
I have the weirdest relationship with this book. The first time I read it, I *hated* it. To the extent of giving it away. I thought Kate was a doormat and Torquil was awful. This time, I have no idea what I was thinking, because Kate is bright and sensible and clever and altogether interesting. (Torquil is still awful, but in a Gothic way.) I still don't love it, but I'm amending my rating to match my new opinion.

Cousin Kate represents a departure from Heyer's usual historical romances and histo/>Cousin
Sep 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
This book... I don't know, man.

It has a Modern Gothic feel and a Regency Gothic setting, with its grand old house that becomes a mark of obsession for the innocent-but-plucky heroine's long-lost aunt (who reminded me greatly of Maleficent). Plus all sorts of family dysfunction and madness for extra Gothic fun. And it was definitely scary in places, in a small animals in danger from a proto-serial killer way. But the romance was very abrupt -- to the point where the heroine's suspicion that the
Oct 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
Cousin Kate was quite a surprise to me the first time I read it; I was expecting a light and fluffy Regency romance but instead got a Gothic romance. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, Gothic romances are a subset of romance novels that feature heroines going through all sorts of dreadful adventures, including fire, flood, ghosts, murderers, skeletons, etc., before finally finding the right man. These novels were extremely popular with young English women during the Regency era, but most ha ...more
Olga Godim
Unlike most Heyer’s romances, which are light-hearted romps, this novel is sad, almost tragic, with a brooding atmosphere of Gothic horror and a cast of characters to match.
The protagonist Kate is a penniless young woman of twenty-four. Her parents are dead, she doesn’t have any other relatives, and the only person who loves her is her former nurse. Kicked out from her position as a governess, Kate is trying in vain to find a new ‘situation’. She is close to despair, when unexpectedly a rich Au
Moonlight Reader
This was a very strange Heyer. It wasn't entirely without charm, but there were flaws a plenty. Let us begin with those (there are mild spoilers coming, so be warned):

First, this was supposed to be Heyer's version of a "gothic romance," but, yeah, there was absolutely NO SUSPENSE whatsoever. The suspense is the heart of the gothic: who's behind the mysterious happenings? Is the hero really a bad guy? Are there supernatural influences? Is the heroine going slowly insane, or is she really b
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
December 2017: still uneven in tone, but I’ve bumped my rating up a star because Heyer’s portrait of a narcissist is so perfect, and she really hammers home how much damage this one woman has done in so many lives. It’s all there, the complete lack of empathy, the flying monkeys, the occasional kindness that is really nothing of the sort. I can’t like Heyer’s portrayal of madness, though. Homicidal mania is common in books but I think it’s not in real life. It’s rather amazing how brilliantly sh ...more
I've given this a B for narration and a B- for content at AudioGals.

If you pick up Cousin Kate expecting to listen to one of Georgette Heyer’s trademark romantic comedies of manners, then I’m afraid you might be a little disappointed, as this book is somewhat of a departure from her usual vein.

Cousin Kate is more of a gothic mystery than a romance (although there is one), in which the orphaned Kate Malvern is taken in by her aunt, only to discover that there is perhaps more to that lady’s motives tha/>Cousin
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder
The heroine is no shrinking violet!

This book is Georgette Heyer's attempt at a gothic story. This book, like her first novel "The Black Moth" I don't recco to people who are newbies to Georgette Heyer.

I really liked the heroine. She was like able, honorable, independent and plucky.

There were some endearing minor characters from the "lower orders"--Kate's now married former nurse Mrs. Sarah Nidd and father in law Mr Nidd.

There were some amusing foibles of the superstiti
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Kate Malvern goes to live with an estranged Aunt, only to discover that things are not what they seem and then her romance stumbles into Gothic territory. Sound the wailing winds!

1. I usually take Heyer with a bit of a wink, expecting a bit of sarcastic dryness to her works that (for me) make them even more entertaining. However, Cousin Kate was a bit too on-the-nose for me to read it as anything more than what it was: a pretty disappointing attempt at Gothic horror/romance.

2. The endin
© Bodley Head 1968
Turned off from her job as a governess, Kate Malvern has no where to go except to the home of her old nurse, Sarah Nidd, a carrier's wife. When Kate declares her intentions of becoming a fashionable lady's maid or a dressmaker, Sarah is appalled. A young lady like Kate shouldn't have to go into trade, even if her father was a gamester soldier who left Kate with nothing. Urged on by her cantankerous, but kindly, father-in-law, Sarah writes to Kate's estranged aunt, Lady Br
My Fifth Georgette Heyer

It's always interesting to see a writer challenge herself by writing in another genre. But going from effervescent, comedy of manner romances to the Gothic may have been too much of a stretch for Heyer.

I don't really like being scared, but I'll put up with it for a good mystery and great writing. Since it was clear from the first chapters where most of the plot was headed, this was a slow, dreary and sometimes depressing read. But there were moments of hum
Whitney (First Impressions Reviews)
If Wuthering Heights and Rebecca were to have a baby, Cousin Kate would be the product of their labors. It held mysterious characters with unclear motives like Mrs. Danvers and the strange, conniving plot of Wuthering Heights.

Cousin Kate was our Rebecca,innocent and financially at the end of her rope although rather more like Belle in Beauty and the Beast when it came to wit and brains.

Torquill was Linton Heathcliff, a sickly boy but was more than meets the eye and consta
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book a lot. There was so much drama in it from start to finish. I'ts totally different from her other books and it makes me wonder why she took such a different pathway. What was on her mind when she sat down to write this novel.
The Nidds were my favourite characters. Especially Mr. Nidd. I loved his expressions when speaking. I felt sorry for the Uncle, Timothy. I know he was a weak character and ignored what he didn't want to worry about or be troubled with but life hadn't been k
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The gothic-reeking beginning of the book with Kate being smothered at Staplewood in a lurid environment full of hidden secrets, screams at night, weird characters took me by surprise but did not manage to engage me. It all seemed too much and Kate frequently seemed like a good-willing but slightly stupid goose to me.
Finally after more than 80 pages, the hero appeared on stage. He was as boring and colorless as the poor Cousin Kate. First they seemed to hate each other, then no longer. Thei
Christa Schönmann Abbühl
I listened to the audio version. The narration was of good quality and Heyer made me feel for the characters. It all seemed realistic to me, I even got the motivation of the „bad guys“, if you can call them that. But it is hard to read about mental health issues in this historical setting. People were so totally clueless. I know the situation is not perfect today, but we have come some ways since then.
All in all it was rather more lengthy and melancholy than I had bargained for. And the ending
I am a big fan of GH and I am not a fan of Gothic stories. For me this book was good, but not so good as Heyer could be. I was feeling Heyer's hand in many descriptions and dialogues. And I must confess, there is a good psychological fundaments in personalities of Minerva, Torquil and Sir Timothy.

So, I think it must be an amazing book for fans of GH and Gothic mysteries.
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2,5 stars? This book was a weird mix, between a normal Heyer book and a thriller, though a predictable one. I was pretty bored by everyone and it took me forever to make myself finish it. The romance was pretty insipid and the mystery was obvious. I enjoyed the happy ending but we didn't need 300 pages to get there.

First disappointment by Heyer but it had to happen sooner or later! ;p
Renee M
GH does a gothic turn. Not a favorite but worth a look. It’s interesting to see a familiar author try on a new hat or two.
**3.5 Stars**
Read for @simondavidthomas’s #1968Club - October 2017
C.P. Lesley
This novel is a bit of a stretch for Heyer: her first (and, I think, last) attempt at the kind of Gothic tale so popular from the 1940s through the 1960s. Kate, a charming but impoverished heroine, finds herself out of a job after her employer's son offers her marriage. She takes refuge with her childhood nurse, Sarah, having—so far as she knows—almost no relatives in England after her gambler father alienated them all by running off to the Peninsular War with a wife not his social equal. When S ...more
Susan in NC
3.5-4 stars - as in I liked it, almost really liked it in the fast-paced last third or so; I am not a fan of gothic novels, but this was a gripping and fun ride - I could barely put it down over the last couple of days! This is my first time reading this novel, and as always it is great fun to explore one of my favorite author's novels with the GR Heyer Fans group read. Such an articulate, funny, insightful and smart group adds so much to my reading enjoyment, and this is no exception.

Several m
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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
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“Has it occurred to you, Kate, that she is placing you under an obligation?"

"Oh, yes, indeed it has, and it is crushing me!" she said earnestly. "If only there were some way of requiting her - not arranging flowers, or entertaining Sir Timothy, or bearing Torquil company, but a big thing! Something that was vital to her, or - or even something that entailed a sacrifice! But there isn't anything that I can discover."

There was a pause, during which he frowned down at his well-kept finger-nails. At length he said slowly: "If she were to demand it of you, would you be prepared to make a sacrifice of yourself?”
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