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April 2019: History > April Lady - Georgette Heyer - 4 Stars

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message 1: by Jemima (new)

Jemima Ravenclaw (jemimaravenclaw) | 405 comments April Lady April Lady by Georgette Heyer

My rating: 4 of 5 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 unsure of herself and I could relate to her. Reading critically with adult eyes, for the first time, I was completely taken aback by how much I was hating on her husband in the first two chapters. Poor Cardross comes across as a stodgy controlling, stuck up prig. When I was young, I thought him being so much older than her was romantic, and sufficient reason for miscommunication. Poor Nell is no match for him at all with the age, gender and wealth imbalance of power in such a marriage. After a couple of decades of marriage myself, I have less patience with a mature man who is not able to step up and ensure the comfort and confidence of his young and ingenue wife, by telling her how he really feels about least during private, intimate time together. I understand all of the arguments about societal norms of the day and how they influenced marriage in those times etc, but this actually is a story about a decent, likeable man and woman with a marital misunderstanding achieved through complete lack of communication, not a biography of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.

The first half of this story seems uninspired and lack luster, and is only rescued by the introduction of some brilliant and compelling secondary characters. Dysart, Nell's rash young brother, I really like and feel sorry for. He won't follow his dreams for fear of causing his parents further distress, but he is aimless and undirected by his elders, left to drift and fend for himself in a society where pleasure is the main motivation. His restless intelligence and passionate nature are subdued and he finds some relief in gambling and doing risky stunts to relieve his boredom. His loyalty and care for his sister won my regard early, while his crazy and humorous exploits rescued the plot from disaster.

Another favourite character of mine was the ineffable leader of fashion, Cardross' cousin Mr Hethersett. His guidance and care of the newly married Nell, and his timely words of wisdom to both Nell and Cardross make him stand supreme in a cast of characters that seem purposely designed to make poor Nell's life even harder than it might otherwise have been. In my opinion it is the character of Nell, with her air of quiet dignity, integrity and genuine sweetness, while retaining the ability to speak her mind with resolution when required that makes this book still an enjoyable read in the end. After the slow start, once Dysart muddies the waters and sister in law Letty puts her oar in, the humour, pacing and verve of a genuine Heyer plot starts to shine through.

At the end of the day, although this is far from one of my favourite of Georgette Heyer's novels, it must still be given 4 stars by me. Comparatively speaking, if I compare it to other favourite works of GH's, it is a 3. However, compared to other books I am currently reading it is still a 4. It made me laugh and care about the characters, it is historically accurate, and at the end of the day I was unable to put the book down for the last few chapters, which considering that it was probably at least my 4th rereading of this book, is praise enough.

View all my reviews

message 2: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 7822 comments Great review! I was hoping to re-read it myself this month. Not sure I'm going to make it though as my Trim TBR choice is slow going and because I am overwhelmed with work).

I don't really remember much about it, even after reading your review. I'm thinking that I read it once a very very long time ago!

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