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Group Reads > The Grand Sophy August 2018 Spoilers Thread

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message 1: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2642 comments Mod
Open spoilers and final conclusions thread!

What did you think? For those who have read the book before, have your opinions changed?


message 2: by Sherwood (new)

Sherwood Smith (sherwoodsmith) | 91 comments ❇Critterbee wrote: "Open spoilers and final conclusions thread!

What did you think? For those who have read the book before, have your opinions changed?"


This is one of my favorite Heyers--with one emendation: I skip over that middle chapter completely. It's not even needed for the plot: the only thing we need out of it gets acted out much more delightfully without the chapter (view spoiler).

I adore Augustus Fawnhope. I would have loved a story entirely about him. I also would dearly love a story about Sophy's adventures in Spain.


message 3: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2642 comments Mod
I agree completely, Sherwood! I skip over the objectionable part as well. It is the only part of the book that I dislike.

I love Sophy. When I first read this book, my very first exposure to Heyer, I was in a very stressful place in life, and felt pretty out of control. Some call her meddlesome, managing, or bossy. Maybe, but she was in control and got things done.

Sophy was in control of her life during a time where women did not have many rights or protections, and had to adhere to a suffocating code of conduct and an opressive lifestyle. She knew what she wanted, and how to get it, while (mostly) playing by the rules.

Sophy was smart, calm, in control of herself 100% of the time, and considerate of others, even those whom she did not quite like. She read situations instantly, understood people thoroughly, recognized her own failings, was not bitter or spiteful, did not waste time worrying about things she couldn't change, and made the best of every situation. She was a breath of fresh air, and very inspiring!


message 4: by Sherwood (new)

Sherwood Smith (sherwoodsmith) | 91 comments I totally agree! As a teen first reading this book, I adored Sophy's sheer competence. And in later years, as I reread it, I appreciate how good-hearted she is, taking responsibility when she sees a problem, and finding a solution.


Barb in Maryland | 681 comments Well, I keep mentally re-writing the 'spider on the Valentine' chapter. This is one place where Heyer's research let her down. There were several 'mob type' loan sharks in London at the time. No need to go all (view spoiler)stereotype in an effort to garner a few laughs. Either make it truly scary or forget it!
Other than that one hideous hiccough, this is a top 10 for me, and always has been.


message 6: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 1275 comments I love Sophy, and aside from all the things mentioned above she is brave and has a wonderful sense of fun. many of the secondary characters are really enjoyable including Augustus, and Eugenia is truly a woman to dislike. Who doesn't like pets and wouldn't keep a boy/young man's confidence? The worse she acts, the more I look forward to when she get her comeuppance.


message 7: by MaryC (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 480 comments One of my very favorite Heyer heroines, and not one of my favorite heroes!

BTW, I may have mentioned this before, but can anyone else envision Lynn Redgrave in the title role?


message 8: by Belinda (new)

Belinda | 220 comments Hooray for Sophie! She is magnificent and I enjoy this book as it’s so much fun. As critterbee said it was great she could be an independent, headstrong woman in a world where the had very little freedom and control. She is also a bit of a tomboy or prefers company of men. I love this one. In the top 5 for me.


message 9: by Maith (new)

Maith | 148 comments One of my favorite Heyers - it was my first one, and I re-read it often. I loved the high speed craziness of the book when I was younger; as I age, I've found so many other things to appreciate. Foremost among them is Sophy's competence. A trope I actively dislike is the manic-pixie heroine - Sophy is energetic but to some purpose and she's capable of making and executing plans that work! I also appreciate her skill in getting over and around the restrictions that women had at the time. She reminds of various women in my family, who did the same. And lastly, I like her clearsightedness about people - she doesn't have many illusions about people but is able to appreciate and get along with them nevertheless. That, is a real skill.


message 10: by Maith (new)

Maith | 148 comments I wanted to add, re: the antisemitism in the book - Heyer has several problematic stereotypes - some affect us more than others. For me, the casual references to fortunes made in India have always made me wince, given the ills of English Colonial rule. One of the reasons why I don't care much for Black Sheep - I couldn't ignore the India connection there as easily as it's referenced enough.


message 11: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2642 comments Mod
Maith wrote: "I wanted to add, re: the antisemitism in the book - Heyer has several problematic stereotypes - some affect us more than others. For me, the casual references to fortunes made in India have always ..."

That is true - and similar issues appear in several books. The instances of 'fortunes made in India' and another book where a character is going to go to the 'property in Jamaica' which, because it was before slavery was ended there, casually outed the family as likely being slave-owners.

Such unconcerned references to exploitative behavior (as far as I know) historically matches the mindset of most of the people in England at the time, but does not make it any less painful to read.


message 12: by Nick (new)

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 438 comments I really like Charles Rivenhall as a character (perhaps not so much as a person). I think Heyer has done a brilliant job of showing a man with much potential to be a decent person who has been driven by circumstance (his feckless father, terrible debts, early responsibility, terrible fiance) to be a worse person than he can be. I really enjoy seeing him improve as a person - regain his sense of humour, learn to acknowledge his own faults, develop some empathy for the kids. It's so gratifying!

Compared to some other Heyer heroes who have to learn to improve themselves (view spoiler) he does it well and with good grace.

Also interesting that despite being a very 'alpha' type of man, his opinions and morals are very much dictated by the women in his life: see how the shift from the influence of Eugenia to the influence of Sophy improves him!


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1136 comments Nick wrote: "I really like Charles Rivenhall as a character (perhaps not so much as a person). I think Heyer has done a brilliant job of showing a man with much potential to be a decent person who has been driv..."

A very interesting "take" on Charles Rivenhall. He had definitely developed a sour humor due to is feckless father and rather silly mother. The worst he did was nearly inflict Eugenia Wraxton on his family and friends. He definitely could develop a lighter disposition with Sophy and though a very responsible man, she could help him to "lighten" up!


message 14: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 1275 comments very interesting about Charles - he certainly make a turn around with Sophy's help. The first time I read the book I was taken aback by first cousins getting married.
the anti-antisemitism is cringe-worthy but no moreso than in Friday's Child when (view spoiler) which they both find totally acceptable.


message 15: by Maith (new)

Maith | 148 comments Good reading on Charles. Charles is somewhat unique among her heroes, in that he’s clearly a homebody. He’s definitely not a ladies man. His chief interest seems to be sports. And he lives at home with his parents and siblings. Quite unusual right? Unless that is another sign of his economization, but there’s no mention of him having lodgings at all. Thinking back on the other books, I cant think of any other hero who lives with his parents! Even Freddie Standen, the most ‘domesticated’ of heroes, lives in lodgings in London.


message 16: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2642 comments Mod
Ah, I think Charles wanted to keep an eye on everyone in the family, rather like he was lord of the manor already.

I liked Cyprian Wychbold, he seemed a mixture of loyal friend and a bit of scatterbrain.


message 17: by Maith (new)

Maith | 148 comments ❇Critterbee wrote: "Ah, I think Charles wanted to keep an eye on everyone in the family, rather like he was lord of the manor already.

I liked Cyprian Wychbold, he seemed a mixture of loyal friend and a bit of scatte..."


Ah that's probably true - he did refer to the house as his in several places.


message 18: by Maith (new)

Maith | 148 comments Someone commented that they missed the clues as to when Sophy and Charles fell in love - and so the ending seemed very abrupt. I can remember where Charles flipped (The night she was attending to Annabelle) but Sophy? There's the bit when Charlbury teases her when they are riding in the park, about Charles calling him out no doubt due to the insult to his sister, and by the end pretty much everyone says the same (Wychbold to Sophy, Charlbury to Sophy in the carriage, Talgarth to Charlbury at Ashstead) - but there isn't any indication of what Sophy thinks of Charles, is there?


message 19: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1367 comments She does hold her cards close. What I've never understood is why she wants him. She's a person of much broader horizons and greater gifts. It's one thing to separate him from Eugenia for the sake of the entire family's happiness, but to saddle oneself with him for life seems an excessive sacrifice.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1136 comments Maith wrote: "Good reading on Charles. Charles is somewhat unique among her heroes, in that he’s clearly a homebody. He’s definitely not a ladies man. His chief interest seems to be sports. And he lives at home ..."

You are right about Charles’ living situation and being a homebody. His mother’s spirits had sunk to the nether regions at the thought of Eugenia living there after she had married Charles.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1136 comments ❇Critterbee wrote: "Ah, I think Charles wanted to keep an eye on everyone in the family, rather like he was lord of the manor already.

I liked Cyprian Wychbold, he seemed a mixture of loyal friend and a bit of scatte..."


I think Charles knew his father didn’t care and took on the responsibility to look out for everyone.


message 22: by Nick (new)

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 438 comments Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder wrote: "I think Charles knew his father didn’t care and took on the responsibility to look out for everyone."

I agree, he's living at home because he is the de facto head of the family. Young men lived in lodgings to get away from controlling or over-bearing parents - but here it's the other way around!


message 23: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2642 comments Mod
Nick wrote: "I agree, he's living at home because he is the de facto head of the family. Young men lived in lodgings to get away from controlling or over-bearing parents - but here it's the other way around!..."

Exactly! Charles has become head of the household because no one else wanted to be so responsible, and he cares so much about his siblings. Of course he thinks he knows best for them, but he is actually in a very trying position. Trying to preserve the family's fortune so that his brothers and sisters have a future! Think about all the stories we read where the brother/father squanders the family fortune gambling or what not, and the rest of the family is doomed. Charles at least wanted the best for his family, and has protected them from uncertain futures.

I like how you say it is the other way around - so true! Lord O tries to escape from Charles whenever he can!


message 24: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2642 comments Mod
There are several hints about Charles's interest in Sophy - from their very first meeting where he is caught admiring her and Eugenia has to recapture his attention.

"A half smile lingered on his lips, and he continued to observe Sophy until his attention was recalled by his betrothed."

I love that the romance is sprinkled among the story, not overtly trumpeted as in some modern historicals, where the H/h meet and are immediately overcome with desire.

Also, the incident with the tilbury in the park - I think Sophy would not have done that unless she was interested in Charles. She wanted proof that he returned her feelings, even though they never declared how they felt. Indeed, they could not because he was engaged to Eugenia..


message 25: by Maith (last edited Aug 02, 2018 10:06AM) (new)

Maith | 148 comments ❇Critterbee wrote: "There are several hints about Charles's interest in Sophy - from their very first meeting where he is caught admiring her and Eugenia has to recapture his attention.

"A half smile lingered on his ..."


oh good catch on Charles' initial interest...but which incident with the tilbury? The one that precipitated her "elopement" with Charlbury? Yes, by then it was very clear (the whole anxiousness beyond what anyone would feel for a horse) - But do you think she did that to test Charles? I thought she just wanted to pick a fight and the new horse offered an easy way to do so. I'm not complaining about it - it's just an interesting difference, even among Heyer heroines.


message 26: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2642 comments Mod
Maith wrote: "oh good catch on Charles' initial interest...but which incident with the tilbury? The one that precipitated her "elopement" with Charlbury? Yes, by then it was very clear (the whole anxiousness beyond what anyone would feel for a horse) - But I can only remember a couple of instances of Sophy thinking anything about Charles himself. and I'm not complaining about it - it's just an interesting difference, even among Heyer heroines...."

You're right - it is unusual! The first time I read the book I was so involved in everything else that I did not realize the direction of the romance until the tilbury incident.

Strangely, I did not miss any romance in the story, either because I had not really read romance before Heyer, or because I was so interested in how everyone else's relationships were going to turn out. My brain could take in all the subtle parts with everything else that was going on!


message 27: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2642 comments Mod
Or maybe it was the sickroom incident, when my brain subconsciously realized it, but was consciously worried about Cecilia. It was so long ago that I first read it!


message 28: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl | 109 comments Re stereotypes and slavery.

I may be an exception here, but I think it would bother me more if references to ideas and practices that were normal for the period were omitted - at least, omitted in places where it would be normal (for the time) to expect them. The author wants an unexpectedly rich character? Well, he made a fortune in India or Australia or Jamaica, probably in ways that are now illegal. (Not unexpectedly, no one seems to have returned to England having made their fortune in my obscure ex-colony).

I don't expect total historical realism in a light novel, but it doesn't bother me when I see such references, or references to racial stereotypes that were they typical. It bothers me more when you read a Regency novel and get the impression that the heroine in a 20th or 21st century woman in fancy-dress, expressing all the ideas and ways of thinking of the present day and none of those more common in the past!


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1136 comments Cheryl wrote: "It bothers me more when you read a Regency novel and get the impression that the heroine in a 20th or 21st century woman in fancy-dress, expressing all the ideas and ways of thinking of the present day and none of those more common in the past! ..."

Amen!


message 30: by Nick (new)

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 438 comments Cheryl wrote: "Re stereotypes and slavery.

I may be an exception here, but I think it would bother me more if references to ideas and practices that were normal for the period were omitted - at least, omitted in..."


Yes, I completely agree with you. I think that Heyer usually manages it quite well. There's a good example in Arabella when Arabella (view spoiler)


message 31: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 690 comments Abigail wrote: "She does hold her cards close. What I've never understood is why she wants him. She's a person of much broader horizons and greater gifts. It's one thing to separate him from Eugenia for the sake o..."
Yes, that's always been the one weakness of the book for me. It's almost as though Sophy has to have Charles just to tie up the loose ends.


message 32: by Nick (new)

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 438 comments Jenny wrote: "Yes, that's always been the one weakness of the book for me. It's almost as though Sophy has to have Charles just to tie up the loose ends. "

She's changed his personality so much by the end of the book he's nearly a totally different person. Perhaps she's working on the principle: 'You break it; you buy it."


message 33: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 1275 comments that's funny, Nick!

I think she does care for him but, also, she is practical. He has a family she already cares for and he is crazy about her - what more could she want? Also, his friends think well of him and she realizes that respect was earned.


message 34: by Barb in Maryland (new)

Barb in Maryland | 681 comments Jackie wrote: "that's funny, Nick!

I think she does care for him but, also, she is practical. He has a family she already cares for and he is crazy about her - what more could she want? Also, his friends think w..."


Jackie--
Thank you for saying what I was thinking!
Early on, Sophy sort of jokes that her father wouldn't force her to marry some one she didn't like--and she likes Charles from the first evening, when her dog gives him the seal of approval and he laughs at something she says. Sophy loves to 'fix' families she cares about--and her aunt's family needs 'fixing'.
This is another book by GH where it is the 'hero' who grows and changes; Sophy stays herself through the whole book. Charles, however, learns to lighten up, shoulder more easily the burdens of being the family's mainstay. His apology to Hubert made me cry.
[On a serious note, we are told that Charles is only 26--rather young to assume the burden of keeping his family afloat (with the added handicap that his father is still very much breathing!). Sophy already had that situation astutely analyzed by the end of her first evening with the family. Go Sophy!]


message 35: by Pragya (new)

Pragya | 3 comments It seems like I am definitely in the minority here but I love the Charles-Sophy pairing. The attachment is subtle but the signs are all there. Their first scene together is epic and they go on to have such awesome comic scenes. He doesn't rescue her from scrapes like a lot of other regency heroes but Sophy is the firebrand, the fixer of problems, so that would be at odds with her character. In time, he comes to know and understand her better than anyone else.


message 36: by Barb in Maryland (new)

Barb in Maryland | 681 comments Oh Pragya--
I love them, too. The romance has always worked for me, from the first time I read the book back in the mid-1960s through a vast number of re-reads.


message 37: by Maith (new)

Maith | 148 comments Oh the Charles Sophy romance works well for me. I just mentioned that its unusual that we see the man falling in love but not the woman.


message 38: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3537 comments Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder wrote: "Maith wrote: "Good reading on Charles. Charles is somewhat unique among her heroes, in that he’s clearly a homebody. He’s definitely not a ladies man. His chief interest seems to be sports. And he ..."

Yes, and I love that Sophy was willing to throw herself into the breech to spare the family that misery! I loved her conversation with Cyprian during the first carriage ride in the park.


message 39: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3537 comments Pragya wrote: "It seems like I am definitely in the minority here but I love the Charles-Sophy pairing. The attachment is subtle but the signs are all there. Their first scene together is epic and they go on to h..."

I like it, too - I think Sophy manages Charles beautifully, and probably always will. She’ll also help him shoulder his burdens with her common sense.


message 40: by Belinda (new)

Belinda | 220 comments Nick wrote: "I really like Charles Rivenhall as a character (perhaps not so much as a person). I think Heyer has done a brilliant job of showing a man with much potential to be a decent person who has been driv..."

I really agree. Thanks. I disliked Charles a lot initially but you've changed my view on him!


message 41: by Belinda (new)

Belinda | 220 comments ❇Critterbee wrote: "Ah, I think Charles wanted to keep an eye on everyone in the family, rather like he was lord of the manor already.

I liked Cyprian Wychbold, he seemed a mixture of loyal friend and a bit of scatte..."


Yes I wanted to read more on him! Not a dandy but had more sensibility than Charles


message 42: by Belinda (new)

Belinda | 220 comments Cheryl wrote: "Re stereotypes and slavery.

I may be an exception here, but I think it would bother me more if references to ideas and practices that were normal for the period were omitted - at least, omitted in..."


Agreed. AT least GH was true to her period


message 43: by Belinda (new)

Belinda | 220 comments What about the wonderfully ridiculous side characters? Eugenia Wraxton is a pearler and Lord Bromford a joy. GH has outdone herself with these two


message 44: by Nick (new)

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 438 comments Belinda wrote: "What about the wonderfully ridiculous side characters? Eugenia Wraxton is a pearler and Lord Bromford a joy. GH has outdone herself with these two"

Yes, I agree that Eugenia is a wonderful character! Heyer could have made her an out-and-out villain, just a malicious 'mean girl'. So I really like the fact that we see Eugenia from her own point of view as someone who's trying to subtly and charitably 'rescue' them Rivenhall's from their own bad behaviour. It's just a shame that the Wraxton idea of good behaviour is not at all suited to the Rivenhalls!


message 45: by Belinda (last edited Aug 03, 2018 04:06AM) (new)

Belinda | 220 comments Nick wrote: "Belinda wrote: "What about the wonderfully ridiculous side characters? Eugenia Wraxton is a pearler and Lord Bromford a joy. GH has outdone herself with these two"

Yes, I agree that Eugenia is a w..."


Wonderfully said - I couldn't agree more re Eugenia. She juxtaposes wonderfully with the Mother. I like the way Bromford is that mix of overcoddled mother's son/hypocondriac/know it all but really knows nothing and then its divine that he finds his perfect match in Eugenia.


message 46: by Moloch (last edited Aug 03, 2018 04:57AM) (new)

Moloch | 201 comments Cheryl wrote: "Cheryl | 41 comments
Re stereotypes and slavery.

I may be an exception here, but I think it would bother me more if references to ideas and practices that were normal for the period were omitted - at least, omitted in places where it would be normal (for the time) to expect them. The author wants an unexpectedly rich character? Well, he made a fortune in India or Australia or Jamaica, probably in ways that are now illegal. (Not unexpectedly, no one seems to have returned to England having made their fortune in my obscure ex-colony). ..."


This is true, and I agree with you that I don't like "modern" and anachronistic characters.
BUT, in the case of "The Grand Sophy", it seemed to me that the stereotypes (I'm talking obviously about the Jewish money-lender) weren't expressed as a character's point of view, but as the author's. And that, from a 20th century author, is less acceptable. My opinion, at least.


message 47: by Barb in Maryland (new)

Barb in Maryland | 681 comments Moloch, I agree. The scene was played for laughs, hence the over the top depiction of the grime, Goldhanger's threats, Sophy's sang froid, etc. Probably got the laughs when it was published in 1950. The public acceptance of this sort of stereotyping was very slow to fade. We are taken aback by it now, but also have a hard time remembering how recently the shift in public awareness took place.


Susan in Perthshire (susanageofaquarius) | 1117 comments Love it, love it, love it! I have lost count of how many times I have read this. I think Heyer’s intricate plotting and brilliant characterisation is really at its best in this book. After having read it so many times, I see the little hints and clues and know what they are going to lead to and I just am lost in admiration at Heyer’s skill at keeping all those threads under control. Sophy is a manager because that is what her father expected of her and allowed her to do. She could no more sit back and let events take their course than fly. I love the fact that she is an enabler, not a control freak. She really cares about the family members and is astute enough to appreciate and understand the family dynamics.
Because of her involvement in politics etc as Sir Horace’s hostess, she understands the wider world as well, but never shows off that experience and familiarity. I think she is one of Heyer’s most interesting and sophisticated heroines. I cannot see her retreating to the countryside and being satisfied with domestic management. I think that once Charles has brought the estate back to full economic strength, he will be persuaded to go into politics and Sophy will be exactly the sort of wife he needs. I think the transformation of Charles is a beautiful twist on the usual hero developemnt. Charles is not a bad person, he has had to face responsibilities and stresses that no young man ought to have to face because he has a feckless father. Sophy has helped him grow and understand his family so much better. I love this pairing. I think the last scene would play beautifully as a farce. I do so wish they would film this book - but just as it is written, not as the proposed ’Sophy as secret agent’ genre.


message 49: by Barb in Maryland (new)

Barb in Maryland | 681 comments Susan P
I like the future you foresee for Sophy and Charles! That would certainly give Sophy a large scope for 'fixing' people.


Susan in Perthshire (susanageofaquarius) | 1117 comments Barb in Maryland wrote: "Susan P
I like the future you foresee for Sophy and Charles! That would certainly give Sophy a large scope for 'fixing' people."


Thanks Barb -it just seems to fit!


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