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The Books > What do you think about Cousin Kate

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message 1: by Veronica (new)

Veronica | 108 comments Cousin Kate is one of my favorite as it out shines all the other Heyer novels. Sadly not many like it. what do you guys feel?.


message 2: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 507 comments Like some of Heyer's other novels (e.g. A Civil Contract), I go to it in a somewhat different mood than I do her lighter romantic fiction. And the final scene with Torquil (trying to avoid spoilers here) makes me drip tears every single time.


message 3: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I do like it. I find it memorable, and I love Kate herself for her resourcefulness and her kind treatment of Torquil. I doubt that I would have shone in that area myself, and, as all good books do, that makes me want to be a better person. And, I don't know which is "better" -- laughing out loud or dripping tears of empathy!


message 4: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (hannahr) Hi ladies!
I just finished Cousin Kate (thanks to all of you), and I liked it. I'm not a huge Heyer reader yet (only have read 3 others prior to this), but was intrigued by the difference in this one.

I totally agree with Margaret that the ending was so sad. It's not a feel good ending by any means, but it seemed appropriate to end it the way Heyer did - anything else might have come off as too fluffy and unrealistic.


message 5: by Mir (new)

Mir | 35 comments Cousin Kate was first Heyer! I read it back when I wouldn't read anything labeled as romance. I probably enjoyed it more than I someone would who was expecting a lighter plot.


message 6: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments You know, Risa, you bring up a very good point: most people think of Heyer as a rather fluffy romantic period writer. (And I love those fluffy ones!) But, she wrote murder mysteries, character studies, highly respected histories, gothics, and what else?


message 7: by Mir (new)

Mir | 35 comments Well, it does have the lost-heir theme going on, although it is not very dark for a gothic. I liked it, though!


message 8: by Barbara (last edited Oct 21, 2011 09:24PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 421 comments Risa wrote: "Yes...I guess it's 'cause the majority of her works is fluff.."

Hmmm... with respect, I don't think I can agree with this Risa, certainly her content is relationships and emotions and misunderstanding etc, but the meticulous research, deft handling of language , sly humour and many really cleverly -drawn characters raises her canon far above the dispaging label " fluff" to my mind.


message 9: by Ahuja (new)

Ahuja | 28 comments Barbara wrote: "Risa wrote: "Yes...I guess it's 'cause the majority of her works is fluff.."

Hmmm... with respect, I don't think I can agree with this Risa, certainly her content is relationships and emotions a..."


Going to jump in and agree with you there, Barbara.
Her romances were so well-crafted, meaningful and witty, and her characters so remarkable, I would definitely not label it as fluff either.

On another note, Cousin Kate was good, as all her other books, but I prefer her lighter ones.


message 10: by Barbara (last edited Oct 22, 2011 09:05PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 421 comments Hi Ahuja - me too , CK is not one of my favourites really , though I did enjoy it. I think perhaps, while I quite admired her skill with the Gothic elements, Gothic isn't a genre I really like anyway.
The character of Torquil is one of her more complex , don't you think? I mean you start off ( or I did anyway) thinking him an immature pain-in-the-arse but GH gently leads us into seeing that he is quite mentally unbablanced and forced to lead a life that actually probably makes him worse .

Some good anti psychotic drugs would have been a useful addition to that household! That and a bit of intestinal fortitude of the part of Sir Tim.....


message 11: by Ahuja (new)

Ahuja | 28 comments Barbara wrote: "Hi Ahuja - me too , CK is not one of my favourites really , though I did enjoy it. I think perhaps, while I quite admired her skill with the Gothic elements, Gothic isn't a genre I really like a..."

Haha absolutely! Yes Torquil did initially just seem like a brat but then it was a bit sinister how she slowly showed us that his mind isn't quite right. The mother was also quite a dragon, if I remember correctly. I guess, I treasure Heyer's wit and humor more than anything else and so I prefer the books which have large doses of that.


message 12: by Barbara (last edited Oct 25, 2011 01:02AM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 421 comments Yeah - I think Aunt Minerva was the maddest of all actually, only in a somewhat more socially aceptable way. I mean if Kate had been different , more easily cowed and biddable girl ( or even one who thought it would be ok to have 'affairs' once she had produced the requisite heir) Minerva's plan may have worked . It isn't absolutely certain that a child of Torquil's would suffer the same problems as him after all and if it did, well I guess Minerva would have hatched a new plan.

There is a similar plot in a novel called Scent of Cloves http://www.amazon.com/Scent-Cloves-No...
by Norah Lofts - who I love to death .


message 13: by Abby (new)

Abby (abbygaines) | 8 comments CK is not one of my favorites from a romance perspective, but it certainly has quite a suspenseful storyline. I like the minor characters of Kate's former servant's family (I've forgotten the names).


Jay-me (Janet)  | 111 comments I have about a dozen GH paperbacks that I have acquired from second hand & charity shops. I'm always hoping to find more to add to my collection - my latest two I bought in August. I would love to have the complete collection & have looked at the prices to get them on my kindle, but the most recent paperbacks were less than 1/4 of the kindle price.....so I'll keep hunting for the moment.
Anyway to get back to the question - I'm currently re-reading my GH collection at the moment & Cousin Kate is at the bottom of the pile, because it is the one that I like the least.


message 15: by Ahuja (new)

Ahuja | 28 comments Barbara wrote: "Yeah - I think Aunt Minerva was the maddest of all actually, only in a somewhat more socially aceptable way. I mean if Kate had been different , more easily cowed and biddable girl ( or ev..."

That's true, I felt sorry for Torquil at times, because his mother was such a harpy and his father so spineless.
That looks like an interesting book, but sounds a tad depressing, does it get better towards the end?


message 16: by Barbara (last edited Oct 26, 2011 01:48PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 421 comments Actually , it's not really a depressing book - though I can see why you would think so from the comments! . It's more that it has a sombre theme.
There are the usual clever funny secondary characters for instance, the Nidds
And as for the ending......... (view spoiler)


message 17: by Ahuja (new)

Ahuja | 28 comments Barbara wrote: "Actually , it's not really a depressing book - though I can see why you would think so from the comments! . It's more that it has a sombre theme.
There are the usual clever funny secondary char..."


Oh I wasn't talking about Cousin Kate! i have read that of course and I know it isn't depressing!
I was referring to the other book you mentioned.


message 18: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 421 comments Scent of Cloves ? No , not at all depressing - wonderful in fact . But I am so biased in favour of Norah Lofts that I'm probably not a reliable source !


message 19: by HJ (new)

HJ | 948 comments Cousin Kate is not one of my favorite Heyers, and I think that's because of the sadness of so many lives wasted as a result of a fixation on property and inheritance. Risa mentioned The Quiet Gentleman, which has the same obsession at its centre. I like that book better, perhaps because the reader doesn't feel that the "victim" is quite so helpless, and is therefore less vulnerable than Kate.

As to other Heyers which have a slightly gothic feel, how about The Reluctant Widow?


message 20: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 421 comments I really like The Reluctant Widow, - I never thought of it as being a Gothic I must admit - though of course the elements ARE all there ! More a bit of fun with a Gothic setting . ( In fact, I think of most GH's as a bit of fun and not really as a commentary on Society or the distribution of wealth or anything like that.)

Hmmm. I never saw Kate as a victim or helpless. And I'm not sure anyone in the Quiet Gentleman could be called a victim either. Marianne? Drusilla?


message 21: by HJ (new)

HJ | 948 comments Sorry, Barbara, I was being oblique when I said "victim" to avoid spoilers. I meant Gervase. I was pairing him with Kate as being the target of other's plotting, although neither of them has a victim mentality. I was thinking of the fact that Kate is penniless and all alone in the world apart from the Nidds (whom she doesn't want to bother and who don't have the social standing to challenge her aunt). She doesn't know whether Phillip is an enemy or not.

I love The Reluctant Widow too, and I agree that neither it nor any of Heyer's books is truly a Gothic novel. And I also agree that Heyer wasn't making points about the way society worked etc. but it is the background against which the stories are written, and they only work in the context of primogeniture, entails, etc..


message 22: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 421 comments Thank you for your nice-natured reply Hj, I realised when I re-read my comment that it sounded rather po- faced. So sorry, I didnt mean to!

Yes so true about the fact that GH's- and indeed many others - only work when you know , and maybe even accept-without-condoning the hugely unequal backdrop of the society in which they are set. The Nidds, like so many other secondary characters ( Beccy in TRW for instance ) can only really be fully appreciated and enjoyed, I think, with the understanding of their distance socially from the main protagonists etc.


message 23: by HJ (new)

HJ | 948 comments Thanks Barbara - I din't think your comment was po-faced! About half-an-hour ago I was just thinking (when reading some other discusion threads on GR) how difficult it is to convey tone when writing, especially in short comments. For example, humour seems to be especially difficult: it can come across as sarcastic when it isn't meant to be. Gives one even greater respect for authors!

I absolutely agree with what you say about how GH's books only work if read in a certain way. The corollary is that criticism of the books which is really distaste for that society is inappropriate and irrelevant - as you say, one reads them against that background without necessarily condoning it.


message 24: by Barbara (last edited Oct 30, 2011 11:05PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 421 comments That is all so true, the idea of literary criticism based on distaste for the way a society used to be. One can hate what it was (or is) and stands for but to criticize a book's writing on those grounds is, as you say, quite inappropriate.

GH's skill in making you want to know and care about characters whose way of life in real life you would utterly condemn, is amazing. I'm thinking Beccy again, who just loves a masterful man and thinks anything such a man suggests must be so.

Sorry, I'm getting off topic rather.


message 25: by Kate (new)

Kate (kwolicki) | 43 comments I did like Cousin Kate, despite it's weird Gothicky vibe, but I think you could probably cut out a huge hunk of the middle and the story would work better. It felt like a short story unnecessarily dragged out to me. However, my hat is off to Heyer, who managed to take a story idea that veers towards VC Andrews possibilities and turn it into something non-icky.


message 26: by Claire (new)

Claire | 46 comments Ok OK I am going to have to reread as everyone is making it sound much better than i remember.


message 27: by Barbara (last edited Dec 26, 2011 05:32PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 421 comments It will be good to hear what you think on a re-read, Claire.


message 28: by Ann-Marie (new)

Ann-Marie | 16 comments Personally, I found Cousin Kate interesting, but it isn't one of my favorites. That said, I really did find it interesting how Heyer slowly showed us how Torquil was mentally ill, especially regarding hurting animals or when Philip catches him with his hands around Kate's neck. This one was a bit darker and more depressing, but I still enjoyed it. I really liked Philip because he's so steady and calm, especially when compared to Torquil. It's nice to see Heyer try different plots and styles. So many authors write the exact same thing over and over again. I think that's why I love Heyer so much because she is able to write all these different kinds of books :) She's so well-rounded and talented.


message 29: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 421 comments I've come to like CK more over the years I think. I'm not sure why I was lukewarm at first , perhaps because as Kate says in 27 above , of its 'weird Gothicky vibe'.

I do agree with you Aconnol about Philip, he's a bit like Captain John Staple in The Tollgate and Hugo in The Uknown Ajax , calm sensible - yet sexy ....


message 30: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Edgerton (teresaedgerton) | 151 comments It took me a long time to warm to the book, too. I think it was because I was expecting something along the lines of Heyer's other books ... more of a comedy of manners ... and when it wasn't I was naturally disappointed. Coming back to it years later with a different set of expectations it was like reading a different book. On its own terms (the sort of book that Mary Stewart or Victoria Holt might have written) I found it much more entertaining, and I think that it's a book that improves with a second reading.


message 31: by Ann-Marie (new)

Ann-Marie | 16 comments Barbara wrote: "I've come to like CK more over the years I think. I'm not sure why I was lukewarm at first , perhaps because as Kate says in 27 above , of its 'weird Gothicky vibe'.

I do agree with you Aconno..."


Haha thanks :) I agree. I read the Unknown Ajax and loved it :) I'm working on the Toll-Gate now and I really like Captain Staple! He's so funny and reliable :)


message 32: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 421 comments John Staple is lovely - not funny and fashionable like Freddy in Cot. , but yes, reliable yet quite sexy . One feels that he, like Hugo, would take time to please a lady in the boudoir .........


message 33: by Nicole D. (new)

Nicole D. (thereadingrebel) | 66 comments I loved Cousin Kate.I thought it was a wonderful gothic tale and the charactor of Kate was impossiable to dislike.


message 34: by Megzy (new)

Megzy | 6 comments She is one of my all time favorite heroine. She takes no prisoner.


message 35: by Talltree (new)

Talltree Kate was awesome, it was a pleasure following her actions, only wish there was an epilogue.
Wait, I wish that in all GH romances, she always leaves me wanting!


message 36: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 1105 comments Cousin Kate is not one of my favorites but I still appreciate it mostly for the relationship she has with her (former) servant and her family, they seem very three dimensional and an excellent contrast to the home life Minerva has created. The character of Torquil is...interesting but his mother much more so. it's worth reading and re-reading, what more can we ask?


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1133 comments I read cousin Kate once (unlike the other romances) while in the midst of my Big Discovery of GH binge.

At the time CK did not compare favorably with the other of GHs romances that I was binging on and I knew nothing of Gothic lit (I still don't fully understand what it is. Tried reading Wikipedia about it and still I don't understand). However, I do recall that I liked Kate.

I'm willing to try CK again. I think that the problem was due to comparison with the other titles instead of judging on its own.


message 38: by Karlyne (last edited Apr 13, 2015 11:32AM) (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Cousin Kate does stand on its own just because the tone and the setting are different from any of the other titles. Someone up above mentions The Reluctant Widow as being similar, but I haven't read them close enough together to judge whether they are or not. Which would be a good reading project!


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1133 comments I think I need to give the Reluctant Widow another try as well.

Like Cousin Kate, RW didn't compare favorably with the other of GHs romances that I was reading during my binge.


message 40: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments It's kind of like "Penhallow" being lumped in with her mysteries, although it's not a mystery at all and is completely different from all of her other works. Heyer really was an amazing, diversified author!


message 41: by Talltree (new)

Talltree The Reluctant Widow was awesome as well, the H was kind of machiavellian and the h was spirited, an unusual plot. I wouldn't say it was too similar to CK though.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1133 comments I still need to try Penhallow.


message 43: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Andrea (Catsos Person) wrote: "I still need to try Penhallow."

It's really different, and a lot of people hate it, but I find it compelling. I think it answers the age-old question "Can evil ever result in good?" in a striking way. And the characters are... amazing! But, again, it is not everyone's cup of tea.


message 44: by Talltree (new)

Talltree Andrea, Penhallow was the first and last mystery of Heyer I've ever read, there was a character there like Scrooge only a lot more sadistic and evil, I found it disturbing but the book is a strong study of human character and behaviour when it responds to such evil.
It was a bit too real for me, but even now years later the impact is unforgettable.


message 45: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 507 comments Comparing Cousin Kate to The Reluctant Widow, I'd say that CK was Heyer's more-or-less serious try at the Gothic subgenre, whereas TRW was more of a sly send-up of it (all those remarks Elinor makes about "How it reminds one of all one's favorite novels!").


message 46: by Talltree (last edited Apr 13, 2015 01:11PM) (new)

Talltree Margaret wrote: "Comparing Cousin Kate to The Reluctant Widow, I'd say that CK was Heyer's more-or-less serious try at the Gothic subgenre, whereas TRW was more of a sly send-up of it (all those remarks Elinor make..."
Thats totally it Margaret, I agree with you, the RW was a bit adventurous and suspenseful , at least for the reader, while CK was gothic and had this impending sense of secrets and doom.


message 47: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Talltree wrote: "Andrea, Penhallow was the first and last mystery of Heyer I've ever read, there was a character there like Scrooge only a lot more sadistic and evil, I found it disturbing but the book is a strong ..."

Talltree, her real mysteries are a lot more fun! Although I love Penhallow, I wouldn't call it witty and fun at all, and her mysteries are. In fact, it's not a mystery, either, since we know who the murderer is at the beginning of the book.


message 48: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 507 comments Agree with you, Karlyne; Heyer's other mysteries are very different in tone from Penhallow, in which I think she was breaking new ground.


message 49: by Talltree (new)

Talltree Really? Its silly of me to assume but I thought they were all like Penhallow,
I wouldn't mind trying something lighter.
Which mystery would any of you reccomend to me to read first? Also are there romantic elements in them?


message 50: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 507 comments There are romantic elements in most of them -- or at least, you'll usually find at least one couple pairing off at the end of most of them. If you like the Gothic-sendup Reluctant Widow, you might want to try Footsteps in the Dark, which is somewhat silly but fun and has some of the same elements. For fun characters I like No Wind of Blame, and for elegant mystery solutions A Blunt Instrument and Behold, Here's Poison are good choices. In general I'd pick the ones with the continuing detective pair Hannasyde and/or Hemingway over the others.


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