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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-06-23 01:00
Venetia by Georgette Heyer
Venetia - Georgette Heyer

I’m glad this was a buddy-read.  Reading this with others and being able to write many ranting updates made it far more enjoyable.  You see, this really wasn’t a good fit for me.  Overall, the plot is rather ridiculous, and I never really felt the attraction of the romantic couple.  Yes, Heyer somewhat redeems Damerel, but she also manages to paint Venetia in almost the worst light possible by the end.


Venetia goes from a fairly intelligent independent woman to a love-struck imbecile. I looked forward more to the scenes with the other characters than the scenes with the romantic couple on their own.  That shouldn’t happen in a romance novel. Or at least not in a good one. Venetia is just as selfish as the rest of her family; I’m not entirely sure how but I think we’re supposed to sympathize with her just because she’s the heroine of this novel.


The novel was saved from a one-star rating by its supporting cast of interesting characters such as the younger brother Aubrey, the annoying Edward, and the Byron-wannabe Oswald.  Later on we find the amusing and infuriating Mrs Scorrier and the poor Charlotte.


It’s just not very good as a romance novel.  If you want a tepid, mediocre soap-opera with a dash of Regency, sure, but you won’t find much romance.


Also, notice how we never actually meet Conway?  And we never see Charlotte again!  This just seems sloppy, from the story point of view.


I will admit that I chuckled at the second rose-petal reference (Damerel’s).  He just sounded so bewildered.


I hadn’t read any other Georgette Heyer before this, and I’ll admit that now I’m a little afraid to.  The Grand Sophy is still technically on my to-read list, though, so I may still try that.  If that’s a dud I think I’ll be forced to conclude that her books just aren’t for me.

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text 2016-06-21 17:54
Reading progress update: I've read 260 out of 306 pages (84%).
Venetia - Georgette Heyer

Chapter 18


It's unfortunate that I've already called the previously chapter implausible because now I'm forced to call this one ridiculous!


Basically Heyer decided to prove right all those ridiculous notions about how children will turn out when they come from "bad" families by Regency standards.  Sins of the parent, and all that.  She's proving right the notion that Venetia should be judged by her mother's actions.  Venetia's mother ran off and ruined her reputation?  Well, Venetia will just have to do the same thing!  I mean, this was written in the 50s, so somehow I doubt that we're supposed to be admiring her mother for saving herself from a loveless marriage and setting out on her own.  This whole scenario is just ridiculous.


I've probably had that come out all wrong.  It's not that I'm judging, it's just that I'm trying to see things from the perspective of the times (either time) and it's just not working. I don't know why Heyer would purposefully set out to be that judgemental.


Wait, does this mean Venetia never wondered why there wasn't a grave?  Or any visits to the family tomb?


And anyway, how does Edward know the whole story?  He was only a few years older than Venetia so I doubt he was let in on the latest gossip.  Even if he had been, it would only have been gossip, not what actually happened.

(spoiler show)


Also, I can't believe the phrase "unwomans me" was used.


Ridiculous, just ridiculous.


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review 2016-06-21 16:30
Venetia by Georgia Heyer
Venetia - Georgette Heyer

One of the few bad things about having friends on book sites who's opinions I tend to agree with and who write great reviews is that I often have nothing to little to add. In this case, though it worked out great, because I couldn't really figure out what I thought about this book, and Murder by Death pretty much got up inside my head and wrote out all my thoughts. Like seriously, that review is spookily close to all the things I would have written if I had written a review, so you could probably just go read that one!


In any case, this one tanked for me pretty early with a very unpleasant introduction between the "hero" and heroine, but since it was a buddy read project I stuck with it, and overall I'm glad I did, because I came to really like them both, and to like them as a couple.


I think the high point is Heyer's characters, they are so very vivid, even most of the side characters. Despite the fairly dense language, when it comes to drawing a character portrait she actual does so quite economically - it's entertaining to look at just how clear a picture we all had of Clara for instance, when she appears only very briefly in the book. Aunt Hendred is another example, she's really not described in great detail and really isn't in the book for very long, but from her dialogue and her behaviour I feel like I know her intimately. And the language, once you get into a rhythm with it, isn't so hard.


More to the point I think I discovered why everyone likes Heyer so much. I've picked up a few "just like Heyer" regency romances over the years, and more or less hated them all, so I always figured I'd probably dislike the original Queen of regency herself. Actually, it's a case of the typical "just like..." falling very far short of the mark. I'm definitely going to try some more of her books. I am thinking of picking up The Grand Sophy, as that's another that was mentioned as pretty universally loved.


In the end, this went from a bare 2 after the blackberries at the start, to an easy 4, and there are very very few books I have ever read that have turned my opinion like that. Like MbD though, I thought the ending wrapped up just a little too quickly - unlike modern books which could often stand to lose 50 or 100 pages, I actually thought this one could have done with another 20 pages or so in the final chapters.


And really finally: I think this book wins any prizes going for "most uses of the word orgy" in a book without any actual sex. It's impressive.

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text 2016-06-21 12:12
Reading progress update: I've read 244 out of 306 pages (79%).
Venetia - Georgette Heyer

This whole chapter (17) struck me as implausible and unnatural.  Not so much in what the characters were saying, but how they were saying it.


Was Heyer trying to copy Austen's speeches?  If so, she failed badly.  These lack clarity and get muddled for being far too long.

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text 2016-06-21 02:02
Reading progress update: I've read 226 out of 306 pages (73%).
Venetia - Georgette Heyer

Mid Chapter 16.


Is anyone still lagging behind?  I don't think so, but just in case:


Ok, it's one thing to make Venetia independent-minded, but why must Heyer also make her so stupid?  I understand that she doesn't really care what others think of her, but she sounds like she doesn't have a clue why people might judge her for going out and about on her own rather than just not caring.  She's been told all these things before, so why does she keep asking why?


Also, going out on her own in London, a strange and unfamiliar city, is completely different from wandering around the lanes near Undershaw where she is well-known.  This just makes her seem like a green country girl who needs someone looking out for her.


One thing that I didn't mention from earlier chapters was that the continual use of "stoopid" instead of "stupid" was irritating after a while.


I can't figure this book out.  One minute Venetia calls Damerel her friend, the next minute she loves him, and nothing is shown in between.  I can read between the lines for parts of it but some of it still feels really random.  I'm probably not paying enough attention, but I can't bring myself to care enough to reread chapters.  I still don't like either character.


(spoiler show)
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