Tag: Georgette Heyer


Review – False Colours

Posted 1 September, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of False Colours by Georgette HeyerFalse Colours, Georgette Heyer

This book somewhat ran into one of the problems I have with fiction that includes humour: I’m bad at being embarrassed, and get second-hand embarrassment for characters I like. There’s obviously a lot of scope for embarrassment in a book which features twin protagonists who pretend to be one another, and the muddle they get themselves into when they do this as adults in order to cover for each other. Or, really, Kit covers for his brother who is mostly absent, and really doesn’t deserve such devotion.

It’s generally charming, particularly the bond between Kit and his mother. She’s hopeless, but loveable as well, and while I’m not quite sure how anyone could put up with her from a distance, far too able to see her flaws, I’m sure that in person she would be completely charming. The romance is so-so; this is one of the books where I rather wish there’d been more attention paid to the romantic heroine (though plenty of attention is paid to Kit’s mother, which balances that). There were also some cringy lines that read unpleasantly for the modern reader, but there’s also a lot of fun — the whole relationship between Amabel and Ripple, for instance.

It all works out fairly predictably and easily, but it’s fun while it lasts and I didn’t get too embarrassed on everyone’s behalves, which was a plus. It was definitely a worthy distraction from fretting over my rabbit at the time, too (in consequence of the idiot biting through a cable and electrocuting himself — he’s 100% fine now).

Rating: 3/5

Tags: , , ,

Divider

Review – The Toll-Gate

Posted 25 January, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of The Toll-Gate by Georgette HeyerThe Toll-Gate, Georgette Heyer

I don’t normally get along with cases of instantaneous love, but some authors can make me go along with it. Heyer is one of them, and this mystery/romance works well. Both the male and female lead are capable and likeable, and they treat each other with respect (unlike in, say, Faro’s Daughter). All in all, it’s an appealing combination, and Heyer shows off her research in her use of thieves’ cant and dialect. If your favourite Heyer novels tend to be the ones with mysterious highwaymen, capricious noblemen who don’t mind pretending to be commoners, etc, then it’s definitely one for you — more like The Talisman Ring than The Grand Sophy.

The only problem for me was that I’m not very knowledgeable about period-appropriate dialects and thieves’ cant. Some of it I didn’t follow very well, and at times it does hinder you in understanding exactly how a certain character gave themselves away, etc. But for the most part, it becomes obvious if you keep reading.

Heyer writes with humour and flair, as ever, and the afternoon I spent devouring this was well worth it.

Rating: 4/5

Tags: , , , ,

Divider

Review – Faro’s Daughter

Posted 10 November, 2016 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Faro's Daughter by Georgette HeyerFaro’s Daughter, Georgette Heyer

I spent an unfortunate amount of this wincing with secondhand embarrassment about the misunderstandings between the two main characters. Their adversarial behaviour is pretty delightful, until you think seriously about how horribly Ravenscar is treating Deb, and without real evidence that she’s actually doing anything he suspects her of. I mean, she doesn’t do much to dissuade him after his first misapprehension, but still, the things he calls her — and then at the end to suddenly declare that they’re in love! It’s a bit too sudden to me; particularly as we don’t get much from Ravenscar’s point of view that explains his softening towards Deb.

The side plot with Adrian and Phoebe, though, is pretty adorable.

It’s fun, but more fun if you try not to think about it too much, perhaps. Especially on the subject of the fond aunt, who despite the fondness, keeps suggesting various odious things to Deb to pay off their debts — we’re told she’s doting, but she seems to have bad judgement and worse taste when it comes to how she should treat her niece.

The best thing about this book is Deb’s stubbornness, her sense of honour, and her insistence that she won’t be cowed.

Rating: 3/5

Tags: , , ,

Divider

Review – A Civil Contract

Posted 11 April, 2016 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of A Civil Contract by Georgette HeyerA Civil Contract, Georgette Heyer

A Civil Contract is quite unlike Heyer’s other novels, because the romance is understated and, indeed, there isn’t much romance at all, at least not in the same sense. It’s a much more practical novel, dealing with the realities of life: more or less arranged marriages, marriages of convenience, unsuitable matches… The most entertaining thing about it is the clash between the aristocratic main character and his father-in-law, Mr Chawleigh. In fact, Mr Chawleigh quite steals the show on a number of occasions.

Jenny is one of Heyer’s better-realised heroines in one sense: she is practical, not very subtle, and devoted from the start to making her new husband comfortable and happy. Of course, that’s a stereotype too, and one which readers may well find less engaging than the sharp back-and-forth of Heyer’s Sophy (for one example). Still, Jenny clearly knows her own mind and does not regret things, although she does have human feelings — wishful thinking, some jealousy, etc, etc. I find her interesting because she’s so untypical of Heyer — a cosy little homemaker! And one with whom we sympathise, even though I did feel that Julia’s flaws were somewhat overdone, in a sort of ‘well, if Julia’s too nice then Jenny isn’t going to come into her own at all’ sort of way.

Really, A Civil Contract is about marriage, not about courting (like The Convenient Marriage, which has some similarities, though not in the characters); it’s about a quieter sort of love, not a grand passion. It’s about making the best of things, and about having a partner who you can rely on. Adam finally realises that that’s what he has in Jenny, and that’s lovely: the way his snobbishness initially gets in the way is annoying, but he learns.

As someone in a nearly eleven-year relationship (not to mention someone who feels no sexual attraction at all), this is in many ways more true of my experience, and it’s nice to see it in a romance novel (of sorts; I think this is less clearly romance than some of Heyer’s others, but if we divide her work into historicals, romances and mysteries… this seems to fit most into the romance section, being too recent in date for the historicals and clearly not a mystery). It might be fun to have a passionate doomed love for someone, but what matters is whether you can work together, work things out together, communicate. Jenny and Adam do model that, as each learns to discuss things with the other and share their lives.

In other ways, A Civil Contract is interesting because of the background of the French Revolution, the perspective of Adam as a former soldier, and the class mixing which happens as a result of the marriage. There are some very entertaining characters, including some very determined and headstrong women who are very different to Jenny, but still positive. (Lady Nassington is one; Lady Oversley is another, in a way; and of course, Lydia.)

All in all, this isn’t one of the more adventurous stories, like The Talisman Ring, and neither is the romance one with tension or too much worry about how it’s going to work out. It is, for the most part, fairly comfortable — though I wonder if perhaps it would have been less so in more class-conscious times. (Says the daughter of a working class man and a upper-middle-class woman, whose families cordially, and sometimes not so cordially, hated each other!)

Rating: 4/5

Tags: , , ,

Divider

Review – The Black Moth

Posted 29 March, 2016 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of The Black Moth by Georgette HeyerThe Black Moth, Georgette Heyer

The Black Moth was Heyer’s first novel, and it does show, but it’s still pretty fun. She hasn’t figured out what to do with her heroines yet, and that’s very obvious: Diana Beauleigh is rather colourless and lacking in the kind of witty repartee that really makes some of Heyer’s other heroines. Indeed, she’s more just a love interest and much less a heroine. Despite Diana and Jack seeming like the main pair, the one the plot was working toward, I was more interested in the spoilt Lavinia and her husband Richard. Of course, Lavinia is an annoying character, whiny and, well, as I said, spoilt. But the way she and Richard come to realise how fond they are of each other, and the way their relationship (and Lavinia herself) grows is a delight — especially since it doesn’t involve Lavinia changing, as such. She’s still spoilt, it’s just that she knows it, and she and Richard are fond of each other anyway.

The whole bit about Richard cheating at cards and Jack taking the disgrace is a bit bizarre to a modern reader — especially with Tracy Belmanoir’s exploits, including trying to abduct a woman, being just dismissed as foibles. I don’t know enough about the period to know if Heyer leaned a bit too hard on that plot aspect: it feels like it, but of course, times have changed.

Jack himself is fun: loyal, self-deprecating, quite capable of being kind or cutting. Adaptable. He’s a bit spoilt himself: you gotta love the part where he complains about the humiliation of having had to earn his own living! But again, things were different then.

For a first novel, The Black Moth is definitely not too bad. It has its weaknesses, and the dialogue was a particular weak point at times (it felt like Heyer tried too hard to reproduce natural ways of speaking, in some scenes, which was tough reading), but it’s fun and no wonder Heyer got off to a flying start.

Rating: 3/5

Tags: , ,

Divider

Review – Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller

Posted 16 February, 2016 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller by Jennifer KloesterGeorgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller, Jennifer Kloester

If you ever feel like, as a writer, feeling like you’re a hack who doesn’t even write that fast, I do suggest you read this biography of Georgette Heyer — or just take a look at her publishing history. Holy wow. She started early and kept on going and going and going, producing books which people love to this day almost right up to her death. And yeah, she had a formula for the Regency books, in a way, but they still remained full of wit and humour which makes each one feel fresh, and she did venture beyond those bounds: she wrote a medieval historical novel, contemporary romances, short stories, a novel which is still used as an example for her portrayal of the battle of Waterloo…

She was a versatile, accomplished and prolific author. I feel like she’d have got on with modern writers like Kameron Hurley in her outlook (though not, goodness me, politically or morally) on writing as a job, and one where she had to keep to deadlines, pay attention to her income, and constantly stay ahead of debt and the Tax Man. She may have loved it and it may have been a craft to her, and I think that is apparent, but it was also work and she took it seriously, using it to support her family.

The personality of Heyer is a little elusive because she was a notoriously private person, giving no interviews. On the other hand, there is a wealth of letters written by her available, including some she wrote to fans and to her agent, so her personality shines through there: self-deprecating in a very proper British way, but proud of her work and her research where merited; conscientious about her commitments; blunt and to the point about her likes and dislikes, even when she’s trying to support a friend.

There is quite a bit of repetition on these points, including a recurring theme of Heyer claiming that she doesn’t write well in adversity, and Kloester pointing out that she does. There’s a bit of repetition about her deep relationship with her husband (and the fact that it was not especially physical). But overall it’s an interesting biography which shines a bit of light on Heyer, and has made me scribble some of her works down in my list to read soon. Something about knowing the context in which she wrote them and the feelings she had about them makes them more intriguing. And oh, Heyer, how dare you not just adore The Taliman Ring? It’s so much fun!

Rating: 4/5

Tags: , , ,

Divider

Review – The Grand Sophy

Posted 2 October, 2015 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of The Grand Sophy by Georgette HeyerThe Grand Sophy, Georgette Heyer
Originally reviewed 8th August, 2013

Hah! This isn’t my favourite Georgette Heyer novel, but I think it might have made me laugh the most so far. God, what a cast of characters, and how ridiculous they all are — Sophy is fantastic, with her matchmaking and her provoking ways and her complete disregard for propriety. I loved the relationship between her and Charles — the last few chapters made me positively hoot with laughter.

I’m sure that people who would never like this genre won’t be convinced by this, but I think I’m being brought to get over my original feelings by Heyer’s work. It’s well written, well paced, and hilariously funny: Sophy’s matchmaking rather pokes fun at the genre, I think: she seems to consider people’s lives as though they’re in a novel and figures out what they would/could do if they were fictional. I half-wanted her to carry everything off, and half-wanted everything to end in a magnificent tangle that would teach her a lesson.

As with Mary Stewart’s work, I wrinkled my nose a little at the potential for cousin-marrying and all that sort of thing, but given the setting, it makes perfect sense.

Rating: 5/5

Tags: , , , ,

Divider

Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 26 May, 2015 by Nikki in General / 12 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is “beach books”. Which is not something I really do, so instead I shall pick the kinds of books I like to relax with. Whether that looks like your beach reads or not, I don’t know!

  1. Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal. Or anything in that series, but the first one is the lightest and closest to Austen and the like.
  2. This Rough Magic, Mary Stewart. Or any of her mysteries — they have an amazing sense of place, it’s like going on holiday without leaving home.
  3. The Rose Garden, Susanna Kearsley. Another one with a great sense of place, this one in Cornwell. It’s not all happy, but the romance is sweet and it has a happy ending.
  4. The Grand Sophy, Georgette Heyer. I have a huge soft spot for these romances. I loved Sophy in particular, though I’m also a fan of…
  5. The Talisman Ring, Georgette Heyer. Which is more of a mystery/adventure than some of the primarily society type ones.
  6. Magic Bites, Ilona Andrews. Light and compulsively readable.
  7. Have His Carcase, Dorothy L. Sayers. Okay, I think you need the background of previous books, but I love the first line and the rest doesn’t disappoint: “The best remedy for a bruised heart is not, as so many people seem to think, repose upon a manly bosom. Much more efficacious are honest work, physical activity, and the sudden acquisition of wealth.”
  8. Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers. For Harriet Vane in the prime spot, with her final answer to Lord Peter’s proposals at the end of the book… Plus, tons of smart women in academia.
  9. Jhereg, Steven Brust. It’s a fun first book of the series, it raced past me, and it’s really easy to read.
  10. Soulless, Gail Carriger. Fluffy fun with werewolves.

I don’t think that’d be a bad selection for the beach, right?

Tags: , , , , ,

Divider

Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 3 March, 2015 by in General / 10 Comments

This week’s prompt for Top Ten Tuesday is “Top Ten Books You Would Classify As ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS from the past 3 years”. Which is a cruel one, I think, because argh, there are so many, and how can I remember when I read them all? But here’s a rough guess. These are, of course, books I’ve read in the last three years, not books published in the last three years, because I say so.

  1. The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison. C’mon, you called it.
  2. Among Others, Jo Walton. This might be a bit out of the range now, but I’ve reread it in the last three years!
  3. Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge. I might shut up about this, someday.
  4. Behind the Shock Machine, Gina Perry. So much research went into this, and it’s a fascinating view on a very famous experiment.
  5. The Universe Versus Alex Woods, Gavin Extence. Lots of issues that fascinate me, wrapped up in an emotional book.
  6. The Dragon Waiting, John M. Ford. Man, this took so much digging through layers of stuff. I loved it.
  7. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, Allie Brosh. Because <3.
  8. The Grand Sophy, Georgette Heyer. Heyer is awesome, okay.
  9. The Carpet Makers, Andreas Eschbach. I remember this blowing my mind!
  10. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern. Gorgeous. <3

Tahdah! Now I daren’t look at other people’s lists, you’ll make me want stuff…

Tags: , , , , , ,

Divider

Review – Bath Tangle

Posted 25 September, 2014 by in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Bath Tangle by Georgette HeyerBath Tangle, Georgette Heyer

I’m not entirely sure how to rate this, because I did enjoy it a lot, but it’s still not on par with The Talisman Ring or The Grand Sophy for me. Having finished it, I was just a little relieved that all the tangles of the love interests were sorted out, and that everyone got to where they intended to go (though, I would almost have enjoyed it more if someone had made an irrevocable mistake, even if it were just Gerald and Emily; the way it came out was too good to be true, and Rotherham far too in control of the whole situation).

You’ve got to like that this isn’t just a story with a tempestuous male character pulling everyone along; Rotherham may well remind the gentle reader of Rochester from Jane Eyre with his manners. Lady Serena is no Jane, however, and she gives as good as she gets. I liked that their romance is not some insipid mutual regard, but something real and passionate.

I especially like that Heyer manages to bring in a spread of characters across social class and attitudes. Obviously, Lady Serena and her cohort are privileged as heck and don’t know it, but I don’t really expect an older book like this to really deal with that aspect. I liked the realism of Serena’s indifference to class while Fanny, equally likeable, has more difficulty with being snobbish. The way Heyer handles show-don’t-tell is pretty instructive, too; scenes like Serena holding the thorny flowers, or Fanny and Kirkby, etc.

Of course, the situation itself is one of Heyer’s typical tangles, with Serena’s father putting her under the guardianship of a man she jilted. It could be pretty creepy, to be honest, but Heyer handles it well — Rotherham never takes advantage of the guardianship, and is prepared to let Serena make her mistake if necessary, even if he is manipulative.

Rating: 4/5

Tags: , ,

Divider