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The Reluctant Widow
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Group Reads > The Reluctant Widow Group Read May 2018 Spoilers thread.

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Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
For comments with open spoilers - & for your final conclusions!


message 2: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ , Madam Mod (last edited May 11, 2018 08:29PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
Finished & still 4.5★ for me, just because of the original premise (giving away an estate) GH does her best to persuade me though.

Francis is one of GH's best villains & quite a complex character. Like Carlyon, I do believe he would have murdered his father if Bedlington had refused to retire to his estate.


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Just finished and I've decided that my original impression of Elinor as spunky, quick-witted and practical is still right-on.

I noticed the physical description of Francis this time, and he is not the stereotypical devious fop. The round face and retrousse nose make him almost seem to be innocent, but, I agree, Carol, that his father had better go carefully!

I quite like the rest of the characters, as long as Nicky gets to be younger than he is...😁

It's through Miss Beccles' comments about Elinor that we really
come to know what kind of person Elinor is. Although we aren't privy to Elinor's thoughts, Miss Beccles gives us some pretty good insights. And I like her sweetness and her relationship with Elinor.

The barely a week love affair? Well, a lot happens in a short time, so I'm quite ok with it!

All in all, a very enjoyable read!


message 4: by Jackie (last edited May 05, 2018 02:52PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jackie | 1385 comments Francis really is a very good ..."villain" isn't the word, is it? adversary? I have no doubt he would have killed his father, or Nicky's dog.

I think this remains in my top 5 Heyer for sure, maybe even top 3. I have such a strong sense of how a wonderful family evolves from Carlyon - or Ned, as we get to know him better - and Elinor, their children and the entire brood.

"kites, indeed.... I wonder if it is as good as ever?"


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
Jackie wrote: "Francis really is a very good ..."villain" isn't the word, is it? adversary? I have no doubt he would have killed his father, or Nicky's dog.

I think this remains in my top 5 Heyer for sure, maybe..."


Adversary is a very good word. & that scene where Francis pulls the sword stick on Bouncer is brilliant - establishes Francis's ruthlessness. (although after being bitten by a dog a couple of years ago I now have a lot more sympathy for Francis's actions. Nicky didn't have full control of his pet)


message 6: by Susan in NC (last edited May 05, 2018 03:25PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3661 comments Karlyne wrote: "Just finished and I've decided that my original impression of Elinor as spunky, quick-witted and practical is still right-on.

I noticed the physical description of Francis this time, and he is no..."


Agree wholeheartedly - as a read while recuperating, it hit the spot for me - I just didn’t have as much patience for Nicky’s peculiarly immature cluelessness. But I enjoyed Elinor, Ned, John and Miss Beccles very much; And found Francis a fascinating, if somewhat chilling, character! Adversary IS a good word, I agree...

I’m not as familiar with all of Heyer’s books as the rest of the group, but I don’t recall such a fascinating character with the capacity for ruthless evil as Francis. What sayest the group? Thoughts?


message 7: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 547 comments The Duke of Avon, in These Old Shades, can be pretty ruthless in pursuit of his goals--and is also fascinating. And he's the hero.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
Funny, I was just thinking a Heyer villain thread could be a good idea! I'll just create one now!


Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2724 comments Mod
**hops over to the villain thread**


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1430 comments The wicked cousin (can’t pull his name up right now) in The Unknown Ajax is not unlike Francis, I think. The dressy one who’s full of resentment.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
Abigail wrote: "The wicked cousin (can’t pull his name up right now) in The Unknown Ajax is not unlike Francis, I think. The dressy one who’s full of resentment."

Abigail, I've started a new thread for discussing villains from different Heyer novels. :)

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


Teresa | 1810 comments I never know where to post these things but here goes. False Colours is on sale on both Amazon UK and America right now.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_...


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3661 comments Thanks Teresa!


Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2724 comments Mod
Teresa wrote: "I never know where to post these things but here goes. False Colours is on sale on both Amazon UK and America right now.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss......"



Thanks, Teresa, I will move them to the all new Georgette Heyer Books on Sale or Free thread.


Teresa | 1810 comments Thanks Critterbee. I'll know in future where to put them.


message 16: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 547 comments Check before you buy, though: I clicked the U.S. link and found that the Kindle price was $9.99, which does not count as "on sale" in my book.


Teresa | 1810 comments Me either Margaret. When I clicked on them it was 99p in England and $1 something or other in the States. It happens to me sometimes too that the prices are different. Something to do with the country we're living in.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
Hi

Could discussion about book sales please go in the new thread Critterbee has created?

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

There are a few reasons for this, but the main two are;

* Not this time; but in the past I have gotten messages that the discussion has gone off track.

* If someone reads this book in a couple of months & wants to read our discussion they have to wade through a lot of off topic posts.


message 19: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy (aggieamy) | 422 comments Are we supposed to assume that Francis and Louis deCaste (I'm listening to the audiobook so I might be spelling this incorrectly) are an item? It seems like it was implied in a very subtle 1940's type way.


message 20: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 547 comments Amy wrote: "Are we supposed to assume that Francis and Louis de Castres are an item? It seems like it was implied in a very subtle 1940's type way."

From a 21st-century viewpoint I could easily believe it, and Heyer did write a few openly gay characters in her contemporary (to her) mysteries, but I think "supposed to assume" is putting it too strongly. "Free to think so if we like," perhaps.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
Amy wrote: "Are we supposed to assume that Francis and Louis deCaste (I'm listening to the audiobook so I might be spelling this incorrectly) are an item? It seems like it was implied in a very subtle 1940's t..."

I never thought that, but it does seem possible.


Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2724 comments Mod
Just finished reading the book. I liked it much better this time (my second read), perhaps because I was awake to everything going on and could be more analytical about the story this time, The first read, I am always too involved to sit back and think about all of the moving parts and how they work together.

I never thought that Francis and Louis were involved romantically, but I suppose they could have been. The romantic part of me hopes that they were not because otherwise how horrible Francis would be, to be able to kill his love! Bad enough to kill your close friend. Unless it was not really true love, but still I do not think highly of Francis. Could he ever love anyone more than he loves himself? I doubt that.


message 23: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy (aggieamy) | 422 comments Finished! This was my second read also and I enjoyed it much more. Perhaps I'm mellowing in my 30's.

I think this could have been a five star book with a few additions. In the scene after Elinor is hit on the head we have a bit of banter between them with some mild "are you happy I'm here" subtle questions. In addition to that we should have had some sort of glimpse into Carlyon's mind to show how worried he had been about her. Even if she doesn't see it ... we needed to see it.

I love how his sister seems to know exactly what's going on. That was a nice touch. And how she seems to be so flustered when discussing him.

I could also do with 75% less "odious".

Last time I rated it two stars. This time I'm giving it four stars. It just worked better a reread.


message 24: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 547 comments ❇Critterbee wrote: "Could [Francis] ever love anyone more than he loves himself? I doubt that."

Heh. I can imagine Francis replying (paraphrasing Vincent in The Unknown Ajax) "Appreciate, dearest Critterbee, appreciate." :)


Jackie | 1385 comments LOL @Margaret!

Amy, thank you for reminding me how much I love the scene where Carlyon's sister is quizzing Elinor to see if she likes him and she IS flustered, it's adorable.


message 26: by Elza (new) - added it

Elza (emr1) | 296 comments I loved the family relationship with the Carlyon siblings. I could just imagine John sending off a letter to Georgy that "Ned has met somebody! This could be The One!" And Georgy immediately dragging her darling Flint off to find out.
Definitely a mark in Elinor's favor that they all seem to approve of her right away!

Amy, I agree that it would be nice to get some insight into Carlyon's POV, especially regarding Elinor. When he tells her, "I think my sentiments cannot be unknown to you. ... You must be aware, at least, that I have found no common delight in your company," she is surprised and we are, a little bit, too. The clues Heyer drops about how Elinor feels are much less subtle and more numerous than the clues about how Carlyon feels.


message 27: by Hana (new)

Hana | 652 comments Elza wrote: "I loved the family relationship with the Carlyon siblings. I could just imagine John sending off a letter to Georgy that "Ned has met somebody! This could be The One!" And Georgy immediately draggi..."

I totally agree, Elza! My favorite GH's are all family stories like Cotillion. She really gets the complex dynamics of extended families.


Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2724 comments Mod
Carlyon's sister said that she was 'in the family way.' I cannot remember Heyer using that phrase in other books. I remember 'expecting an interesting event,' 'in a delicate situation' even the declaration 'I'm breeding.' I wonder why she choose that terminology (apparently?) only in this book.


Sheila (in LA) (sheila_in_la) | 373 comments I noticed that, too, Critterbee, but have no explanation to offer! At the very end of the book Carlyon describes his sister as "expecting to be confined," which sounded more typical.

I liked this one a lot, I thought Elinor was as witty as any Heyer heroine I've encountered. I could even understand (just barely) how she might let herself be swept into this strange situation. There was a coziness to it, what with the amiable family, kindly governess, etc. Francis stood out in stark contrast, as I imagine he was meant to.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1430 comments I always thought “in the family way” was a bit of a vulgarism in Regency times, but I might well be wrong.


message 31: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy (aggieamy) | 422 comments Susan in Perthshire wrote: "However, if you feel the plot needs ‘suspension of disbelief’ from page 1 - then clearly it is not for you. That’s a shame."

You might have missed my comments earlier on. My first reading was a two star read, this time I enjoyed it much more and feel it's a four star book.

I do think there are a number of things that do strain our credulity more than some of her other books.

(1) Why Carlyon was so adamant about not inheriting the estate - obviously he's a man that is secure in his own standing enough withstand some snide comments from distant relatives whose opinion he doesn't care about

(2) Why didn't Elinor ask for Mrs. Macklefield instead of sitting there having a strange conversation with Carylon

(3) Why would Carlyon leave her in the house with a man who he knew was a murderer

(4) How did they fall in love in less than a week - the instalove stories tend to be less enjoyable than the other GH stories for me

(5) Why wouldn't she have accepted money from him from the sale of the estate - her reputation was already ruined in the eyes of her family by marrying Eustace as mentioned by the letters she received. She was well on her way to being destitute and unemployable. We all know what that meant for young women during the Regency era. Now that I think about it I would even say that marrying her was the gentlemanly thing to do for Carlyon. It was lucky he found himself in love with her.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
Point number 3 is a good one - although I think Carlyon had faith in Francis's intelligence. Clocking Elinor -er- with the clock was a surprising lack of judgement.


message 33: by Nick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 443 comments Point 4 is the one for me! They've known each other a week and barely had any conversation at all!


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I just finished Joan Aiken's The Five Minute Marriage and it has not only Austen and Heyer references galore, mainly in names and characters, but its plot is quite similar to The Reluctant Widow. It was published in 1977, and I think Aiken just let herself go and ripped merrily along, chortling as she threw in a word here and a reference there which only Austen and Heyer fans would get. The book itself is uneven and a bit silly for all that, and it reminded me that her genius was in children's books and not necessarily in adult fiction.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1430 comments As to number 5, I think a gentlewoman, no matter how desperate, would feel squeamish about accepting money from a strange man or the proceeds of an estate she didn’t feel was rightfully hers. A matter of honor.


message 36: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy (aggieamy) | 422 comments Abigail wrote: "As to number 5, I think a gentlewoman, no matter how desperate, would feel squeamish about accepting money from a strange man or the proceeds of an estate she didn’t feel was rightfully hers. A matter of honor.."

I've been thinking about what options she would have had if she hadn't married Carlyon. He wouldn't have worried about it because he was such a take charge type that he would have made sure she was taken care of in a suitable manner. She didn't know that. Maybe I'm misreading the situation but she was in desperate straits.

She presumably wouldn't be able to get another job as a governess. The agency (if she used one) that placed her wouldn't be pleased with her just not showing up to her previous job. By the tone of the letters from her family it was considered scandalous that she married Eustace so likely polite society would have too.

Her options would have been to get a very low job ... maid or something similar. Possibly rely on family, which we knew she didn't want to do.

It seems that she was in a very difficult situation.


message 37: by Hana (new)

Hana | 652 comments I don't think a job as a maid would have been considered even remotely possible by Elinor. There were women from the upper classes who started shops or married men from the 'trades'. Or the really independent ones who started artistic or intellectual salons. Or a few who opted out of desperation for high-end prostitution. The class boundaries and social proprieties were a mental prison for women like Elinor.


Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2724 comments Mod
Too gently bred to work without scandal!


message 39: by Nick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 443 comments Hana wrote: "I don't think a job as a maid would have been considered even remotely possible by Elinor. There were women from the upper classes who started shops or married men from the 'trades'. Or the really ..."

Or a casino operator like in Faro's Daughter! Not that that would have suited Elinor either.


message 40: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl | 111 comments ❇Critterbee wrote: "Too gently bred to work without scandal!"

And actually, completely unqualified. Real maids started work in their early teens at the latest, and learned how to do housework on the job. Elinor wasn't born in a period when the lady of the manor was expected to know how to do all the work, and I can't imagine the woman who would hire someone in her mid twenties with no previous experience as a maid!

Now, she might get a position as a housekeeper - but she'd probably be considered too young for that. And she still doesn't have the relevant experience - there's nothing to say she managed her father's household. Not that she could have mentioned that, if she had. Potential employers might think she was as bad with money as he was, and maybe suicidal to boot.

She was in a really difficult situation.


message 41: by Susan in Perthshire (last edited May 14, 2018 11:37AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Susan in Perthshire (susanageofaquarius) | 1201 comments In response to Amy’s points that she listed as the ones that strain credulity. I have tried to respond to them below. i would like to say that I think it is really difficult for us to appreciate the niceties of the period from our experiences of the 21st century. For Elinor, the position of a woman in her situation in 1813 would be something that I imagine none of us have had to endure. The peculiar social culture and diktats which affected how people behaved at that time in the different social classes are pivotal to understanding Heyer’s attempts to reflect society at that time.
I may have responded to Amy’s points in the wrong order since I cannot see her post while I am writing mine - so I hope the following makes sense!
1. Carlyon might not care about the scandal and gossip or what others say for himself - but he does care about his family and he knows how upset they would be if gossip was going around that he had somehow inherited Highnoons by stealth or conspiracy. Look at how Nicky responded when he could no longer bear what Eustace had said! I also think that in some areas - such as accusations of underhanded dealing - Carlyon actually would care if that is what people said about him. Accusations of acting dishonourably were taken very seriously then.
2. Elinor had been appointed by Mrs Macclesfield in London - and it was not at all unreasonable for her to suppose the gentleman was the latter’s husband. Elinor was an employee - not a guest of equal standing - so, she would not have asked her employer if she could speak to his wife. She would have waited until he had finished his examinations and then handed her over to his wife.
3. Elinor’s sense of honour would have made it very difficult for her to feel she was right to accept the proceeds of her inheritance through that awful marriage. She may well have ended up being persuaded it was okay by Carlyon and Miss Beccles - but I totally get why she resisted - even though it would have solved all her problems. She has her own standards.
4. Sorry but I don’t get turned off by ‘insta-love’. I fell in love with my husband 40 odd years ago - in a very short space of time - and we are still happily together. I know many folk find this difficult to get - but I certainly have no problem!! (That is why I can enjoy Mary Stewart as well!)
5. The step down in social status from being a wealthy young woman moving in the best of circles - to being a maid - would not only have been almost impossible for Elinor to contemplate, but as has been said by others - it would not be at all easy for her to do. Young girls started about age 10 in domestic service - at the very bottom of the ladder and with luck worked their way up to a position such as housekeeper. Without experience, she would have no chance of getting a job. She had few options and was in a very unenviable position.


message 42: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ , Madam Mod (last edited May 14, 2018 12:46PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
Susan in Perthshire wrote: "4. Sorry but I don’t get turned off by ‘insta-love’. I fell in love with my husband 40 odd years ago - in a very short space of time - and we are still happily together. I know many folk find this difficult to get - but I certainly have no problem!! (That is why I can enjoy Mary Stewart as well!)

I've probably said this before, but you do have to look at the times GH & Mary Stewart lived in. Going through two World Wars when today may be all you have. A "good girl" didn't have sex before marriage. Even shorter life expectancy for the community overall may play a part.


Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2724 comments Mod
Susan, in connection and support of your response to point number 1, Carlyon was very worried about how scandal might affect John's career, and rightly so! John was just starting out in a career where being honorable was important; any whispering might seriously affect his future.

Apologize if that seemed convoluted - my brain is starting to tire!


Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 767 comments I've read all my Heyers so many times that I feel I know them off by heart - but re-reading TRW this time I have frequently found myself laughing out loud. I do think it's one of her funniest books.
These are my favourite bits:

* Nicky: "Only consider, cousin! A man who must needs come creeping into a house by a secret stair can be up to no good!"
Elinor: "Very true. There is a want of openness about such behaviour that strikes one forcibly, and makes me at least disinclined to pursue the acquaintance."

* Nicky: "Louis De Castres? But Ned, he is quite the thing! Why, you may meet him everywhere!"
Carlyon: "Very true. Mrs Cheviot seems even to have met him here."

There are some particularly good bits about Bouncer, even if he is a rather irritating character:

* [when Bouncer is 'guarding' Elinor] Bouncer then returned to his bone. His teeth appeared to be in excellent condition.

* "Oh, but he is quite well-behaved now!" Nicky assured her. "I have very nearly trained him not to kill chickens, or chase sheep, and if only you do not meet any other dogs you will not have the least trouble with him."
"He has already had a very nice run, chasing the groom", said Elinor hard-heartedly.

* "... I dare say he would like to take a bite out of fat old Bedlington, wouldn't you, Bouncer?" Bouncer jumped up at him ecstatically, apparently under the impression that this treat was indeed in store for him.

I'm sure I've missed some. What are anybody else's favourite funny bits?


Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 767 comments ❇Critterbee wrote: "...Carlyon was very worried about how scandal might affect John's career, and rightly so! John was just starting out in a career where being honorable was important; any whispering might seriously affect his future. "

I can't help feeling, though, that it was ungentlemanly of Carlyon to preserve his and his family's reputation at the expense of risk to that of a lady - for whom the stakes are far higher, especially one in such a vulnerable position as Elinor.


message 46: by Susan in NC (last edited May 15, 2018 07:07AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3661 comments Jenny wrote: "❇Critterbee wrote: "...Carlyon was very worried about how scandal might affect John's career, and rightly so! John was just starting out in a career where being honorable was important; any whisper..."

Thank you, Jenny, for putting the concerns rattling around my brain so clearly!

I’ve already returned my book to the library, but I thought Carlyon placed an ad in a London paper for a lady to marry his wayward cousin and assumed Elinor was answering the ad? (Sorry if I bungled that early scene, there was so much going on I may have rushed past his explanation). Once he knew Elinor was NOT that woman, but was actually a lady (albeit, in desperate straits), he made the quick decision to offer her a potentially more compromising situation. As the damage to her reputation could be considerable (indeed, devastating), it does seem he acted rather callously, if not in an actually ungentlemanlike manner! (There, now I’m going Elizabeth from P&P on the plot line)!


message 47: by Hana (new)

Hana | 652 comments Susan, Carlyon made her the dubious offer but when she refused he accepted her explanation and was all set to have her taken to the local inn for the night when Nicky came in with the horrific news that he had shot Cheviot. That's when Carlyon's organizing brain went into over-drive. Arguably very quick thinking, planning and execution in a nearly impossible situation.


Sheila (in LA) (sheila_in_la) | 373 comments Jenny wrote: "I've read all my Heyers so many times that I feel I know them off by heart - but re-reading TRW this time I have frequently found myself laughing out loud. I do think it's one of her funniest books..."

One of Elinor's remarks to Carlyon after suffering the blow to her head:

"I have been recalling how you told me I might rest assured no disagreeable consequences would result from my marriage to your cousin. I wish you will tell me, my lord, what you deem a disagreeable consequence?"

And several others in this vein.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1136 comments Carlyon isn’t concerned with much of anything where Elinor is concerned, or he’s careful not to let her know it!


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3661 comments Hana wrote: "Susan, Carlyon made her the dubious offer but when she refused he accepted her explanation and was all set to have her taken to the local inn for the night when Nicky came in with the horrific news..."

That’s right, thanks!


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