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The Foundling

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  4,110 Ratings  ·  345 Reviews
A diffident young man of 24 years, easily pushed around by his overprotective uncle and the retinue of devoted family retainers who won't let him lift a finger for himself, the Gilly, the seventh Duke of Sale, sometimes wishes he could be a commoner. One day he decides to set out to discover whether he is "a man, or only a Duke."

Beginning with an incognito journey into the
Paperback, 406 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Harlequin Books (first published 1948)
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4.75 stars, just short of being a top favourite!

Dear friends, readers, and fellow Georgette Heyer lovers,

I am really, really surprised at the low popularity of The Foundling amongst the Heyerites. I don't recall anybody ever featuring this wonderful gem of a book in their top favourite Heyer reads. In fact, I barely recall anyone even recommending it! Perhaps y'all need to go read it again.

"'I am glad you think I have countenance, dear Gilly. I want only to be worthy of you.'
'To be worthy of me!
Dec 01, 2011 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm normally quite chary of stars, and don't award full marks to anything that isn't objectively good. So, in my reviews, four stars and below are subjective, while five stars are reserved for the best of the best. I've made one exception for Frederica, and I find myself forced to make another for The Foundling.

The Foundling tells the story of the Duke of Ware, a shy, retiring boy of twenty-four who has been cosseted and coddled until he could scream. But he's so mild-mannered that he merely sub
Nov 12, 2016 Kevin rated it it was amazing
The very first Georgette Heyer I have read at the coaxing recommendation of my wife who I believe is in some secret underground Georgette Heyer fan club. In a few short words I would say The Foundling is a fast paced, witty, humorous, well written book that I enjoyed very much. Georgette Heyer writes each character of this large cast so they are instantly recognizable. Most of the characters are over the top, but that is the fun of this novel. The unbelievable situations and turns in the plot ar ...more
This is a romance only in the sense that the hero is happily settled with his lady at the end of the book; really it is an adventure and, I suppose, a journey of self-discovery, although I'm sure Georgette Heyer would never use (or approve of) such a navel-gazing term.

In his travels, Gilly encounters Tom, a magnet for mischief of all kinds, Belinda, a beautiful, empty-headed girl whose virtue is teetering on a knife-edge, a brace of villains, and a host of citizens of all stripes that, as a Duk
This is really more a coming of age novel than a romance; there is a romance, of course, but it takes a distant second place to Heyer's account of how her hero, Gilly, Duke of Sale, goes adventuring, in a smartly paced plot, and frees himself from the confinement of his family and his title. The romance wasn't much (and I actually found Gilly's romantic interest rather dull), but the friendship between Gilly and his dashing cousin, Gideon, was a highlight of the book. I don't think I've read a H ...more
Emilia Barnes
This is a fun one to re-read. With every new approach I gain new sympathy for Gilly, and there's always great satisfaction when he grows some ovaries in the end, and stops letting people boss him around so much.
Tiffany Reisz
Jan 02, 2016 Tiffany Reisz rated it really liked it
This book was adorable. Just adorable. I was so proud of Gilly. Heyer paints a wonderful sweet and believable portrait of a young man treated like a child all his life and yet still finds he has the heart of a man, and a good man too. My only complaint was that it dragged a bit. Could have been 50 pages shorter and I would have liked more scenes with the lovely Lady Harriet, but all in all, a wonderful read.
This is more adventure than romance, and bears a strong resemblance to Charity Girl, with another 'unsuitable' female in need of rescue, and handed over to a long-standing friend-come-love interest of the main male character. But most of the story is caught up in the adventures of Gilly as he kicks over the traces and goes on a mission of mercy (and meets another 'Falstaff' type, though this one theoretically intended to be more amusing).

The story works a little better than Charity Girl, but it
Carol ♔Type, Oh Queen!♕
Sometimes rereads are A Very Good Thing.

I was very young when I originally read this & I didn't much care for it. The hero came across as a bit of a wuss & it was far more an adventure than a romance. Also the teenage me found Gideon more appealing than Gilly.

On rereading I now think this is one of GH's best Regencies. The storyline is skillfully done & for anyone who feels the romance was perfunctionarily done I would say (view spoiler)
Nov 02, 2009 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, regency
Gilly was born an incredibly rich duke. Far from trying to get his inheritance, his family did everything in its power to ensure that the sickly little boy would grow to manhood. However, now that Gilly's nearly of-age, their coddling and controlling is less welcome. Being pushed into an engagement with an old friend is the last straw, and Gilly takes an opportunity to flee his hangers-on and pretend to be just a gentleman. While doing so he rescues a fair but dimwitted maiden, takes on the char ...more
Jul 20, 2013 Christopher rated it really liked it
Shelves: clean
Upon rereading, I am convinced “The Foundling” is among Heyer’s best novels. It has a slow start, but by the middle of the story becomes an all-out adventure story that I couldn’t put down. It is an extremely original and well thought out coming of age story: mild-mannered protagonists, charming would-be murderers, various miscreants which the hero takes under his wing. As the reader, you look back once you’re well into the story and see how everything ties together – It’s something I ve
Sep 17, 2008 Kelly rated it liked it
I have a fondness for "Mr. Dash of Nowhere in Particular." Something about the description of the meek young duke, ruled over by his strong-willed, crotchety relations and servants spoke to me. I cheered for his coming-of-age transition to a man, and his adventures out in the world, his experiments at doing everything for himself. I do think the romance in this book seemed like something of an afterthought, put in at the end only because Heyer's readers are used to seeing a pat happy ending. I d ...more
Jun 02, 2009 Angela rated it really liked it
This is is my first Heyer read with a male protagonist as the dominant character, and I was a little worried that it would be entirely filled with gambling, races, boxing, and other manly pursuits, which I find completely boring. It was not, however - it was a delightful adventure and character study of a realistic and endearing young gentleman. I absolutely loved the character arc that Sale passes through. His growth is subtle, but the difference by the end is tremendous, and I loved seeing him ...more
Ana Rînceanu
My 21st Georgette Heyer

This is not a romance, but a coming of age story. An okay, but not a remarkable one.

Our hero: Gillespie "Gilly" Ware, Duke of Sale and Marquis of Ormesby; Earl of Sale; Baron Ware of Thame; Baron Ware of Stoven; and Baron Ware of Rufford. Orpahned at a young age and raised by the staff, he lives a sequestered life because everyone is terrified he will get sick and die. It's a sad thing to see a duke unable to stand up for himself in front of his uncle or the staff. So he r
Pauline Ross
The seventh book in my attempt to reread all Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances in chronological sequence. This one was published in 1948, and it’s a cracker. The Duke of Sale, a posthumous son and heir, has been cosseted from birth, every aspect of his life dictated by his guardian and uncle, and an array of loyal and devoted retainers. When he was a sickly child, this was appropriate, but now, at twenty-four, he’s chafing at the bit. He dutifully proposes to Lady Harriet Presteigne, his uncle’ ...more
The hero of this novel, the Most Noble Adolphus Gillespie Vernon Ware, Duke of Sale and Marquis of Ormesby; Earl of Sale; Baron Ware of Thame; Baron Ware of Stoven; and Baron Ware of Rufford, a sickly orphan, was raised by a host of well-meaning relatives and old family retainers. He's been coddled and cosseted his whole life but now that he's on the verge of coming of full age, his uncle Lionel encourages him to make his own decisions, yet every time Gilly makes a move, he's told he should lis ...more
Oct 10, 2009 Res rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance
The one where, thanks to wealth, power, shortness, and a sickly childhood, Gilly isn't allowed to take a step without ten people attending him, until he breaks free and goes on an adventure of his own.

As I mentioned in my notes on Sprig Muslin, these two books start off their adventures in pretty much the same way: a man, on his way to propose a marriage he isn't very enthusiastic about, finds himself saddled with a beautiful woman-child whose innocence he has to protect and a heedless schoolboy
Nov 24, 2012 Alice rated it really liked it
Shelves: regency
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 05, 2016 Nicola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2 stars

One of the few Heyer novels which is told from a male perspective throughout. Adolphus 'Gilly' Ware the 7th Duke of Sale is the most unassuming and diffident man imaginable. Adored by all who know him, he was a sickly child and, although now fully grown, he is still protected and pampered by all around him. Finally driven to rebellion Gilly heads off on a wild adventure to save his younger cousin from a breach of promise lawsuit and ends up embroiling himself in one catastrophe after
Apr 19, 2010 Mikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be honest, it was something of a chore to read this at first, but don't be deterred! Although it takes a while for the story to pick up and get interesting, the characters were charming enough to see me through the boring parts. I love that the protagonist isn't the typical swaggering, brooding hero of most Regency novels. Gilly makes you want to pinch him and gather him up in a hug, not swoon on your feet -- and that's a refreshing change.

It's difficult not to enjoy Gilly's discovery of his
MeiLin Miranda
Apr 08, 2011 MeiLin Miranda rated it really liked it
One of the best Heyers, full of all the usual nonsense--put-upon dukes, mistaken motives, potentially ruined reputations, strangely lovable rascals, overbearing dowagers, humorous rustics, a beautiful girl without a brain in her head, and Hessian boots. Also coats with many capes. And curricles.

I freakin' love Georgette Heyer. Many imitators, but only one of her.
Apr 03, 2015 P. rated it really liked it
While I find the nearly de rigueur top 'o the trees beauty with feathers for brains tedious, and do not find the folly of the foolish nearly as amusing as I'm supposed to, the delightful Duke of Sale makes reading all of the complicated, silly rest of The Foundling worthwhile.
Ruth Turner
Jun 25, 2014 Ruth Turner rated it liked it
Shelves: georgette-heyer

Very slow to start. Not one of my favourite Georgette Heyer books, but a good read nevertheless.
Jan 17, 2017 Heather rated it it was amazing
Well, I have a new favorite Georgette Heyer book. This was just the right mix of fun with a smidgen of romance. Delightful.

Conundrum though: Which Heyer to read next?!
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Wherein the ingenue is a duke.
Dec 06, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
Loved it. Similar to her other plots (like The Corinthian) but with more emphasis on the hero. Lots of fun! I already can't wait to re-read it
Jun 11, 2017 Leanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, coming-of-age
I simply enjoy Georgette Heyer's writing. Although this novel moved a slowly in parts, the characters are delightful, the repartee sparkles, and the shy hero conquers all.
Jan 26, 2017 Violinknitter rated it it was amazing
Definite similarities to SPRIG MUSLIN, but oh! So much fun!
Jan 31, 2017 Theresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: regency-fiction
The Duke of Sale for all of his twenty-four years has been pampered, indulged, cosseted, and dictated to. A sickly youngster,

“he was the Most Noble Adolphus Gillespie Vernon Ware, Duke of Sale and Marquis of Ormesby; Earl of Sale; Baron Ware of Thame; Baron Ware of Stoven; and Baron Ware of Rufford... all of these high-sounding titles had been his from the moment of his birth, for he was the only surviving offspring of the sixth Duke..”

Thus begins the story of “Gilly”, the Duke of Sale. Gilly
Reading is only for the young.


I never wanted to read any Heyer slash. That should be self-explanatory, because her romances were the only real ones, with the m and f really belonging together, fitting, genuine love, affection and attraction, it made me sick to consider slashing the men, no matter how many there were, how many were attractive in every way. It still makes me sick.

But Gideon's love for his "little one", and that first scene were Gilly comes a little bit apart and a lit
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  • Indiscretion
  • Georgette Heyer's Regency World
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  • The Private World of Georgette Heyer
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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, and he often provided basic plot outlines for her thrillers. Beginning in 1932, Heyer released one romance novel and one thriller each year.

More about Georgette Heyer...

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“If I must consort with rogues [...] I own I like them to be in the grand manner.” 4 likes
“I like very few people nowadays; in fact, the number of persons whom I cordially dislike increases almost hourly.” 0 likes
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