Georgette Heyer Fans discussion

April Lady
This topic is about April Lady
38 views
Group Reads > April Lady April 2019 Read Spoilers Thread

Comments Showing 1-50 of 61 (61 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
This thread is for open spoilers & final conclusions.


Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
Moved from Chapter 1-7 thread

message 21: by Jemima - rated it 4 stars |
I have read this a number of times. It was a favourite when I was a teenager...I think because Nell is so young and I could relate to her. Reading critically with adult eyes for the first time I am completely taken aback by how much I am hating on her husband. What a stodgy controlling, stuck up prig. I thought him being so much older that her was romantic but poor Nell in no match for him at all He has it all his own way right through the first part at least where I have got up to. Dysart who used to annoy me so much , I actually rather like and feel sorry for. I can't believe that Cardross installed his troublesome sister on his new wife who is barely older than her and expects Nell to cope with controlling her and getting to know him in the middle of having a third wheel in their marriage. Arrogance! If he loves her so much why doesn't he tell her so for cripes sake? What is she supposed to think? Those who dislike such characters as Rotherham and Lord Rule - at least they were given spunky female characters who were a decent match for them and gave them a hard time for their behaviour.



Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4119 comments Mod
Ive always been so fond of Nell & Giles. I still am but it dod strike me that Giles should have at least shown Nell how to maintain a ledger. This time I liked Dysart more, but Letty much less.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments Once again I started a little early, as it seemed the perfect light reading for a challenging week. But that's what spoiler threads are for, right?

I didn't hate Cardross but he certainly wasn't given much of a chance to shine; and neither he nor Nell has an ounce of spunk. This feels like paint-by-numbers Heyer.

My review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Jemima Ravenclaw (jemimaravenclaw) | 29 comments Love your review Abigail. I’m definitely going to be rethinking my rating during this reread. As I mentioned it was a favorite when I was a teenager myself and a very uncritical reader as long as there was a happy ending. Not one of my favorites now. I was definitely getting annoyed with Cardross during the first few chapters on this reread...big hot under the collar...sorry everyone. As I said I really liked and feel sorry for Dysart and the ineffable Mr Hethersett is supreme. I also have a lot of time for Letty’s beau Allendale. I still really like Nell, and I like her air of dignity that she conducts herself with that she carries so genuinely. I think your point of the hazards of writing romance between already married persons is a very good one here. Cardross cannot help but appear in a negative light under these circumstances when we don’t know anything about his backstory. Just a very short summary of his falling in love at first sight....not a scenario I ever really enjoy. What do others think of the secondary characters? I think they do rescue the book by their personalities and in driving the plot, while the principals seem pulled along in their wake rather than determining the path forwards themselves.


message 6: by Sherwood (new) - added it

Sherwood Smith (sherwoodsmith) | 91 comments One of my least favorites overall, as Cardross and Nell each do not communicate with each other, a trope I really dislike, especially in romance. I also find Letty more tiresome with each read. But Dysart saves the book for me. The highwaymen scene is one of my favorite Heyer "rascally brother" scenes.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments Thanks for the kind words, Jemima! You're right about the secondary characters saving the book--they're really, especially Dysart, more vivid and interesting than the main couple.


message 8: by Maith (new)

Maith | 148 comments April Lady is one of the few books that I like better as I age. I think I've mentioned before, I'm from India, and arranged marriages are still pretty much the norm, so the premise of this (and other) stories never bothered me. I knew/know enough Nells = girls brought up simply to be married off - but they generally were brought up with sufficient knowledge to run their eventual homes. Nell does too - what she doesn't know is how to manage her allowance - which isn't surprising.
As for Cardross, given that many married with little actual knowledge of their wives, he would have expected that she was capable of managing her duties, of which chaperonage of her SIL is one - the age doesn't matter, Nell's status as a married woman does. (Fanny, younger than Serena, still a valid chaperon for Serena!)
That said this book *is* rather Heyer by the numbers as someone said up-thread.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3335 comments I’m only in chapter four of my reread, but you’ve all given me food for thought to fuel me through this less-than-dazzling Heyer! I didn’t remember much about it, it’s not one I own and I’ve only read it once, so I was not digging the first few chapters. All of your comments help me realize I’m not imagining it, it doesn’t seem one of her best efforts, “Heyer-by-the-numbers” indeed! I will try to just enjoy the more appealing secondary characters and give poor Nell and Giles a break - it’s not their fault they’re already married!


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3335 comments Abigail wrote: "Once again I started a little early, as it seemed the perfect light reading for a challenging week. But that's what spoiler threads are for, right?

I didn't hate Cardross but he certainly wasn't g..."


Great review- thank you for summing up the “meh” feeling the first few chapters were giving me, but I couldn’t figure out why!


message 11: by Jane (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jane | 178 comments Good points in your review, Abigail. Your paint-by-number comment is perfect! This is probably my third reading of this book, but it's been at least 10-15 years since the last time. I just joined Audible and I've decided to try listening to all my rereads of Heyer books. I finished listening to The Grand Sophy (one of my all time top ten books) last week and Cotillion last night and started April Lady today and, although I've only listened to one chapter so far, I'm missing the style and sparkle of those previous two books. I don't like stories with mistresses, I don't like when hero and heroine have complete lack of communication, I don't like when heroines are stupid with money, and I don't like when wastrel brothers need to be continually bailed out of trouble (although I had forgotten all about the highwayman scene so, hopefully, I'll warm to Dysart by the next few chapters). Oh well, it's Georgette, so it will still be entertaining!


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments Thanks for all the kind comments!

And just to be fair to Cardross, he did part from his mistress before his wedding. Though I can't approve his having an affair with a married woman!


message 13: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 652 comments Jemima wrote: "I still really like Nell, and I like her air of dignity that she conducts herself with that she carries so genuinely...."

Yes! At first I thought her just a foolish girl but as time went on I came to respect this quality, as well as her innate honesty. She begins to see very clearly how her initial mistake lead to a cascade of disasters, she holds herself responsible and grows up a great deal over the course of the story.


message 14: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 652 comments The closing chapters are classic GH, both touching and very funny. It almost felt like two books to me. I wonder if she got stuck writing this, put it aside somewhere around Chapter 8, and then found her voice again as she finished the story.


message 15: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ , Madam Mod (last edited Apr 03, 2019 11:41AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4119 comments Mod
Hana wrote: "The closing chapters are classic GH, both touching and very funny. It almost felt like two books to me. I wonder if she got stuck writing this, put it aside somewhere around Chapter 8, and then fou..."

From memory this whole book was written at speed because GH was in financial difficulty. I've always been fond of this book, but this read I did notice at the start how hard GH was working to sell a weak premise. But those last chapters (from the return of the necklace on) are some of GHs best work. I read them 3 times!


message 16: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 652 comments That's very helpful, Carol. If she was racing the clock and not doing much editing that would account for a lot. It's funny that the better parts seem to have been written under pressure. Truth be told I do my best work under deadline!


message 17: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 652 comments I wonder if GH's own financial difficulty informed the first part of the book, in which debts and dunning letters play so large a role.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3335 comments Hana wrote: "I wonder if GH's own financial difficulty informed the first part of the book, in which debts and dunning letters play so large a role."

Good point! I wondered that too - in the biography it’s clear that financial concerns never seemed far away for her.


message 19: by Susan in NC (last edited Apr 03, 2019 04:23PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3335 comments Hana wrote: "The closing chapters are classic GH, both touching and very funny. It almost felt like two books to me. I wonder if she got stuck writing this, put it aside somewhere around Chapter 8, and then fou..."

Except for the dreadful Letty! I’m sorry, but I couldn’t believe the lengths she went to to try and get her way! And the trouble she caused by stealing the necklace- and of course she’ll never know about the terrible rift she caused between Nell and Giles because of the necklace...

Almost makes me sorry for Mr. Allenby - I’d love to know what his mama thought of Letty when they arrived in Wimbledon? He is a heck of a guy - I said in my review, he may be the making of Letty! That scene at his lodgings at the end, with his landlord and landlady and Felix and Nell - that was classic Heyer.


message 20: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 652 comments Susan in NC wrote: "Except for the dreadful Letty! I’m sorry, but I couldn’t believe the lengths she went to to try and get her way!,..."

I have this horrible feeling that letting her get her way by going into hysterics once will convince her that this is the solution to all problems. Kind of reminds me of Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. I hope poor Mr Allenby will have better luck controlling his wife than Mr Bennet did.


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments For me, Nell has two big redeeming qualities. The first is her intelligence. When Cardross confronts her with the fact that he "knows" she stole the necklace, she immediately does, in fact, know that it was Letty. And, because she loves him, she tries to restore Letty to him so that she can mend the inevitable rift between the siblings. She makes mistakes in spite of her intelligence, but they're mistakes of experience and not stupidity.


But you know what this whole story hinges on? It's Nell's humility. She's so humble that she believes her silly mother when she assures her that Cardross doesn't love her, and she finds it hard to believe that he would love herself more than his mistress. Nell knows that she's not the most perfect woman in the world, and she hasn't got an arrogant bone in her body.

Jemima mentions the dignity that Nell has, too, and it's another saving grace. She's no cowering little scaredy-cat, and when she has to, she can act with both grace and dignity. In fact, I've just convinced myself that I quite like her!


message 22: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 652 comments I like her, too, Karlyne!


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Just started laughing while doing the dishes: Dysart reminds me of Aunt Abby in Arsenic and Old Lace!

Mortimer: "Aunt Abby, how can I believe you when you've just admitted there are 12 men buried in the cellar?"

Aunt Abby: "Yes, but you don't think I'd stoop to telling a fib, do you?"

(One of my all-time favorite movies)


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments You hit the nail on the head, Karlyne, about Nell's humility! She also has an unusual amount of self-restraint (highlighted by Letty's absolute lack thereof), which doesn't serve her well in breaking through the misunderstandings.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3335 comments Hana wrote: "Susan in NC wrote: "Except for the dreadful Letty! I’m sorry, but I couldn’t believe the lengths she went to to try and get her way!,..."

I have this horrible feeling that letting her get her way ..."


Get out of my head - that’s exactly who I thought of, as well! I figured he’d be the making of her, or she’d be another Mrs. Bennet. I think that’s just one of the perils of young women marrying too young - character is not fully formed and may become rather stunted.


message 26: by Susan in NC (last edited Apr 04, 2019 12:38PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3335 comments Karlyne wrote: "For me, Nell has two big redeeming qualities. The first is her intelligence. When Cardross confronts her with the fact that he "knows" she stole the necklace, she immediately does, in fact, know th..."

I liked Nell very much, for all the reasons you stated so well, thank you! Plus, it’s tough not to come across as a model of decorum and self-restraint when you’re chaperoning Letty the wild woman - it’s like herding cats (who are all hopped up on catnip, if that makes cats hyper!)

Poor Mr. Allenby - I thought Neil, last month in Sprig Muslin, was going to have his hands full with Amanda...I do wonder how Letty will fare as a diplomat’s wife - she’ll either be brilliant, with her charm and skills at manipulating people, or scandalous (I just hope Mr. Allenby doesn’t start having palpitations and nerves like Mrs. Bennet trying to rein Letty in, as she tries to start coups or something, to advance his career...)


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I'm hoping that Letty's obvious love, and even respect, for her Jeremy will keep her from doing anything that she knows he won't like (like Amanda with Neil), but the problem with Letty is that she's got so few principles that it's going to be hard for her to know just what right and wrong are. Amanda, although not raised in "society" as Letty was, had a much better understanding of what would be tolerated and what wouldn't. Of course, Amanda didn't really care about fitting in - as long as she got to wring a few chicken's necks...


message 28: by Susan in NC (last edited Apr 04, 2019 01:47PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3335 comments Karlyne wrote: "I'm hoping that Letty's obvious love, and even respect, for her Jeremy will keep her from doing anything that she knows he won't like (like Amanda with Neil), but the problem with Letty is that she..."

😂That’s true - I definitely got the feeling Amanda was single-minded about Neil, and very strong-willed, but a decent girl with a sense of right and wrong. Letty, on the other hand, definitely has a skewed moral compass, I mean, I was flabbergasted that she stole the necklace!


message 29: by Jane (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jane | 178 comments Mrs. Bennet and her daughter, Lydia!

Aunt Abby! Hah!

Is it too early to start listening to/reading Sylvester?? I need to cleanse my ear palate (didn't know there was such a thing, did ya?!) from listening to this book. As much as I do not like abridged books, I may just have to listen to Richard Armitage narrate Sylvester...... ahhh, my ears are feeling better already!


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3335 comments Jane wrote: "Mrs. Bennet and her daughter, Lydia!

Aunt Abby! Hah!

Is it too early to start listening to/reading Sylvester?? I need to cleanse my ear palate (didn't know there was such a thing, d..."

Richard Armitage reading the phone book would be fine with me...


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

Jane | 178 comments Richard Armitage reading the phone book would be fine with me...

Hear! Hear!


message 32: by Ah (new)

Ah | 71 comments I think Lydia and Amanda are great examples of young women needing a challenge to get stuck into, in an era where young women in their situation were expected to be largely passive and submissive.

I can see them relishing the challenges of Spain/Brazil and living up to them!


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Ah wrote: "I think Lydia and Amanda are great examples of young women needing a challenge to get stuck into, in an era where young women in their situation were expected to be largely passive and submissive.
..."


I agree. They both had a real pioneering spirit!


Lesley | 220 comments That Letty! She really grated with me. Reminded me a lot of Amanda until she took the necklace.i don’t think Amanda would have stooped that low. I got quite annoyed with Dysart too! Nell seemed a bit immature initially, but I guess for the times she typically took advice given by her mother on entering marriage, and by then mother’s views of marriage may well be a bit jaded

However, all that said, i quite enjoyed my time spent with April Lady.


message 35: by Elza (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elza (emr1) | 296 comments Well, I made it to the end and I have to say, it is a very happy ending. Although so typically restrained -- any other author, I have to believe, would have the hero sweep his wife up into his arms and head for the bedroom. No, we end with the butler announcing to our reunited lovers that "Supper, my lady, is served!"

One of the most satisfying payoffs is Nell's maturity by the end of this story. Although being dishonest with her husband not only causes but prolongs a great deal of the conflict, she finally works up the courage to tell the truth. And her reward is to have Cardross absolutely go off on her. In some ways this is a frightening scene, but it also shows the depth of his pain and disappointment. And, to her great credit, Nell understands that. "He was saying such terrible things, but he did not know the truth: he was saying those things to some creature who did not exist, not to her."
Finally, we see a grown-up Nell, not a nervous girl.

And, to his credit, Cardross realizes the magnitude of his blunder when he thinks Nell has left him. He's felt like the wronged party all through this story, so it is past time to have him acknowledge his own faults. And, even better, to have Dysart scold him! "Why the devil don't you take better care of Nell?" Why indeed, Dysart. You tell him.

The supporting cast is a bit of a letdown for me, with the exception of Letty's cousin Selina, who wants so badly to be the heroine of a gothic romance and has planned out all her dramatic speeches -- except that nobody else seems to know their lines! LOL

I feel more confident that Cardross and Nell will be able to live happily ever, because their problem siblings are leaving. Sad but true. Having Letty in Brazil and Dysart in the Peninsula definitely improves their chances.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3335 comments Thank you, Eliza, great points! And I agree, I hadn’t thought about it that way, but it’s true - shipping Letty and Dysart off, especially in ways they are happy about, greatly increases the happiness quotient for Cardross and Nell!


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments Thanks for highlighting Selina! She was a stitch.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3335 comments Yes, I didn’t really think about her until I read your comments- she was melodramatic and funny!


message 39: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ , Madam Mod (last edited Apr 07, 2019 05:41PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4119 comments Mod
Susan in NC wrote: "Thank you, Eliza, great points! And I agree, I hadn’t thought about it that way, but it’s true - shipping Letty and Dysart off, especially in ways they are happy about, greatly increases the happin..."
I' ve always thought that.

Although I very much disliked Letty this time around, I'm not sure this is the best outcome for her. All of Cardross's objections to the match remain valid, plus she has now shown herself to be absolutely unscrpulous & this will be a very dangerous sea voyage.

I do think this will be very unhappy marriage.


message 40: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Hambly | 37 comments Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ wrote: "Susan in NC wrote: "Thank you, Eliza, great points! And I agree, I hadn’t thought about it that way, but it’s true - shipping Letty and Dysart off, especially in ways they are happy about, greatly ..."

If it is an unhappy marriage, Letty will deserve it!


Anjali (anjals) | 25 comments April Lady has long been a favourite of mine so please excuse this long post. I know it lacks some of the verve and humour that we love in Heyer’s novels and that the plotline is a bit thin; nevertheless, it's a story that never fails to tug at my heartstrings.

While it's tempting to think of it as The Inconvenient Marriage without the sparkle, I think it’s nearer in spirit to A Civil Contract. The drama is internal and GH delves quite deeply and with empathy into the feelings and motivations of each character, including the minor ones.

I can understand readers' impatience with a plot based on ‘the big misunderstanding’ but I have a great deal of sympathy for a newly-married couple having problems in communicating. Cardross and Nell may have fallen in love but they couldn't possibly have got to know each other well before they married. Expectations from marriage in that period were vastly different than they are now. Brought up in a very formal, conservative society, they would have felt great reticence in speaking openly; indeed they would likely not have had the vocabulary to do so. All the reasons GH gives for their inability to say the words they need to say make complete sense to me. So in the context of the book their misunderstandings are perfectly plausible.

In real life, too, it takes a long time to build truly open communication in a relationship. We who live in an age where couples often need to go into counselling to save their marriages, where ‘men are from Mars and women are from Venus' is taken as axiomatic, and where television and films are full of characters who endlessly discuss their relationship problems with their buddies rather than their partners should understand why Nell and Cardross can't just talk to each other!

As for Nell's actions, as Karlyne has pointed out, they spring not from stupidity but from lack of experience, and poor guidance from her mother who was the only person she had to advise her. Still, Nell never loses her moral compass, and, in fact, displays a great deal of what we now call emotional intelligence. She is tactful with her brother, reads Allandale's character correctly, has built a comfortable friendship with her husband's cousin, and does what she can with his sister. She tries to make Letty and Cardross see each other's point of view. She recognises her own mistakes and is able to understand the causes of her husband's words and actions, once it is pointed out to her how misguided her notions of marriage were. She behaves with maturity and dignity throughout.

Yes, her initial mistakes – overspending and then forgetting the largest bill – are foolish, but hardly unforgiveable considering that she has had no financial education and some very bad examples to follow. Think of her as a modern teenager who, having hitherto subsisted on meagre pocket money, is given a credit card with no limits and let loose in a world of online shopping!

And finally, I must add - Nell wishing to conceal her mistakes isn't all that unusual. I'm pretty sure I don't know any married women who don't occasionally hide little things from their husbands, not with the intention to deceive but in the interest of keeping the peace. I assume married men do it too!


message 42: by Elza (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elza (emr1) | 296 comments Anjali, well said. I like the comparison to A Civil Contract. In both, we see a husband and wife who know they want their marriage to be different but are not sure quite how to get there. It's as if they are in a maze, searching for the way to the center.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments What a great argument in favor of April Lady, Anjali! You make excellent points.


message 44: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 1198 comments yes, Anjali, great post and lots of good point.
I am one of those uncomfortable with the parts of the book where Cardross and Nell are having their misunderstanding, but I always thought the writing was excellent and it's worth reading the book for the last part and all it's humor.


Susan in Perthshire (susanageofaquarius) | 1082 comments Anjali - I love your analysis and agree totally. I like this one a lot. I think there are sufficient differences between Horry and Rule and Nell and Cardross to make both books enjoyable for different reasons.


Sheila (in LA) (sheila_in_la) | 337 comments I went back to the Kloester biography to remind myself of the circumstances around the writing of April Lady. Apparently it started it out as a short story and I think it would have made an excellent long short story--as a novel too much of it drags on and on for my taste--Nell's wimpiness over the dressmaker's bill and Letty's tiresome tantrums.

The plot twist of Dysart's winnings on the horse coinciding with the theft of the necklace was typical Heyer cleverness, on the plus side.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments You’re right, it would be better as a short story! I felt there was only one central conflict and very little plot around it. Usually her novels have more complexity. Even so, the secondary characters were fun and Nell is an interesting combination of youth and maturity.


message 48: by Sheila (in LA) (last edited Apr 13, 2019 06:01PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sheila (in LA) (sheila_in_la) | 337 comments Abigail wrote: "You’re right, it would be better as a short story! I felt there was only one central conflict and very little plot around it. Usually her novels have more complexity. Even so, the secondary charact..."

I agree, on all points. Nell was appealing, when she wasn't panicking. I think she and Giles will adjust to each other and make a good match.

ETA: On second thought, I'm not sure if the bit with the necklace would have played out as well in a short story. I think part of the reason I enjoyed it so much was the long build-up to it.


message 49: by Elliot (last edited Apr 14, 2019 11:13AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elliot Jackson | 275 comments Hana wrote: "The closing chapters are classic GH, both touching and very funny. It almost felt like two books to me. I wonder if she got stuck writing this, put it aside somewhere around Chapter 8, and then fou..."

Yes, I am astonished at how much better the second half was than the first - I had to force myself to read more than a chapter at a time up until about Chapter 6, and then it just got more and more "Heyeresque" to me, until I was in perfect charity with it at the end.

Like many here, I just found the main couple's complete Failure.To.Communicate a real turn-off, and I am so out of sympathy personally with spending a ton of money on clothes (unless they're riding clothes) and on gambling that I just couldn't feel anything but impatient with the main plot set-up. To be sure, once we got into the whole Cockroach saga, and the theft of the necklace, and things started racing instead of crawling toward the finish line, I started liking it better. As you pointed out, it almost felt like Heyer abandoned a lackluster beginning for a while and then picked it up again mid-stream when she had more creative juice to infuse it with.

3-star read for me, then, rather than my usual 4 or 5.

ETA: Anjali makes such a persuasive case for the novel's strengths that I may end up deciding in retrospect that I *ought* to like it more!


message 50: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 652 comments My feelings precisely, Eliot. I also enjoyed the Cockroach saga--GH, like Wodehouse, is great painting moments when the ton shows its truly idiotic core.


« previous 1
back to top