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Cousin Kate

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  6,232 ratings  ·  507 reviews
When young and beautiful governess Kate Malvern finds herself unemployed in Regency England, she is surprised and grateful to receive an invitation to live with a distant aunt. She has never met her Aunt Minerva Broome, and hardly knows what to expect at majestic country home of Staplewood. Her aunt, uncle, and cousin welcome her to their estate, buy her new clothes, and p ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published October 6th 2005 by Arrow (first published 1968)
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Average rating 3.53  · 
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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 lov
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
Apr 21, 2016 rated it liked it
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 success
Ruth Turner
Nov 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: georgette-heyer

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 differe
Sammy Loves Books
I love Georgette Heyer, but was afraid I wouldn't enjoy this book with its low 3.5 rating. But it was very entertaining. Heyer's books are a guaranteed good time and this was a pleasant surprise because it was unlike her other other books. Cousin Kate was a darker read with a conniving villain mingled with some very strange events.

Kate was an adorably sweet heroine with a kind heart. I loved that she wasn't a push over and wasn't afraid to speak her mind. Heyer's heroines are always strong indep
Feb 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
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
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 Broome. Kate's Aunt Minerv ...more
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
May 03, 2016 rated it liked it
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). ...more
Susan in NC
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reread
5/2020 reread: 2.5 stars - down from my initial rating years ago, as in it was ok, compared to the many Heyer novels I have since read; but I wouldn’t reread, and this probably would rank among my least favorite of her novels.

Kate is an upbeat, resilient heroine, and I liked her; everything good I said about her in my previous review, I stand by. Philip is a bit stiff, especially as read by my narrator, but it seemed to fit the novel, and he provided the requisite romance, such as it was; Sarah
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a story! I can't say this is my favorite Heyer, but it was certainly gripping. The characterization and plotting really rocked! ...more
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
Christine PNW
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 being s
Sep 09, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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 mos ...more
Olga Godim
Jan 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: georgette-heyer
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
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Written in 1968, this was one of Georgette Heyer’s later books. A prolific writer, she produced 1-2 books per year, since her debut in 1921 withThe Black Moth. Cousin Kate is a regency romance with gothic overtones. It takes place in a grand manor house, Staplewood. The owner, Sir Timothy, is frail and spends most of his time in his own suite of rooms. Sir Timothy’s much younger second wife, Minerva, oversees the running of the estate, through fear and manipulation. Their only son, 19-year-old T ...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 motive
Andrea AKA Catsos Person
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 superstitious Staplewood estate hous
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 humor and great wor
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 ending was su
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 20, 2021 rated it liked it
This isn't one of my favourites, it lacks her usual sparkling dialogue and humour.
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 constantly trying to rebel. He
Oct 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers Who Enjoy Gothic Fiction
One of Georgette Heyer's most Gothic novels, Cousin Kate follows the story of the eponymous Kate Malvern, who finds herself almost penniless at age twenty-four. The unexpected kindness of her estranged half-aunt, Lady Minerva Broome, seems like a godsend, until Kate discovers that all is not as it should be at Broome Hall...

Although a great admirer of Heyer, I am forced to agree with those readers who opine that Cousin Kate is unsuccessful, both as a romance and as a thriller. The foreshadowing,
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: romance-histo, e-book
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. Their roma
May 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, historical
"Cousin Kate" is a Gothic Regency romance. It's got the screams in the night, locked doors, manipulations, and Gothic-style madness. Though not a light-hearted story, it's like Heyer couldn't let the story descend into a creepy or horror story--just some tense moments full of threat. Which is fine by me! The ending was very sad, but I felt like the author was trying too hard to convince the reader that this really was a happy ending. Also, since Kate is supposed to be world-traveled and not a sh ...more
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
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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 nov

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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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