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review 2017-08-21 03:58
The Foundling
The Foundling - Georgette Heyer

I don't really know what to say about this book.  The writing is superb; really just near perfect.  The dialog is crafted so well it just trips off the tongue, even though it's a speech pattern that's hardly common today.


And I genuinely liked Lord Sale and his cousin Gideon (him best of all, I think); I even didn't mind the pompous uncle and Tom was moderately amusing.  I should give Heyer a fourth star just for that story about the two donkeys, a horse and a cow.  But as for the rest... 


Lord Sale's staff were insufferable.  Heyer meant them to be, of course; that's a big point of the plot from the beginning, but she did her job so well it was tedious to endure the reading of it.


Liversedge was probably brilliant and towards the end even I thought the situation was hilarious, but the first half of the book his character was just smarmy.


But the character I save most of my ire for is Belinda.  It was coincidence that I was reading this book the same time I was reading Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth, but it was also perhaps karma having a go at me:  I claimed nobody could be as stupid as Margot in Grey Mask and so the fates brought Belinda into my reading life.  Belinda makes Margot look like a genius; Belinda makes air look literate.  Belinda, in short, should have been institutionalised.  Nobody – nobody – could be that vacuous and still show signs of life.


If this book failed at all it was with Heyer's decision to make Belinda too stupid to be believed.  I could not be sympathetic to her story at any point because she was not even believable as an automaton.  And because she played such a huge part in the middle of the book, the story dragged dangerously midway through and at one point, I just didn't want to finish it.  Fortunately, the POV shifted to Gideon, and the story picked up pace considerably.  The last half of the book was great, in fact: even though Belinda got to let her stupid shine to the very end, there was a lot less of her and the story focused on the characters that were interesting - the sentient ones.


The moral of this story:  stupid people can ruin even the best story.

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review 2017-08-14 03:54
The Romance is a Nope
Regency Buck - Georgette Heyer

This was my second (at least) read of Regency Buck. There were parts of it that I liked better this time around, and parts that I actually liked less.


The hero, Lord Worth, is no more likeable in this read than he was the first time I read it. I just cannot conceive of his appeal for Judith, who is headstrong and occasionally obtuse, but who is generally of a friendly, informal disposition. Worth, on the other hand, is cold, withdrawn and often downright unpleasant. He also more or less assaults Judith on their first meeting by kissing her without her consent, an incident that is not made more appealing with threats of repetition.


She made light of the circumstance of the stranger’s kissing her: he would bestow just such a careless embrace on a pretty chambermaid, she dared say. It was certain that he mistook her station in life.


I don't find this even remotely appealing, not the least on behalf of the pretty chambermaids of the Regency, who deserved better than to suffer random groping by asshole peers taking unwanted liberties upon their persons. Ugh. There is one occasion where he actually threatens to beat her.


Do not look daggers at me: I am wholly impervious to displays of that kind. Your tantrums may do very well at home, but they arouse in me nothing more than a desire to beat you soundly. And that, Miss Taverner, if ever I do marry you, is precisely what I shall do.’


Gross. On top of that, there is no real sense that he has improved by the end of the book. He treats her indulgently, referring to her repeatedly as "adorable," in a way that is actually fairly insulting.


It seems to me that Heyer is trying hard to create a Darcy/Lizzie vibe, with the sparks that fly between them and the irreverent teasing that Lizzie uses to soften up the withdrawn, shy Darcy. Unfortunately, this doesn't work for me at all, because I just don't see Worth having Darcy's good points. Darcy seems like a jerk. Worth is a jerk.


So, as far as the romance goes, this one didn't convince me. I wanted to push Worth overboard, and have Judith marry one of the other male characters. Mr. Brummel, for example, was quite charming, as was Lord Worth's younger brother, Charles.


Now, though, the really good aspect of this book - Heyer did a great job with the mystery in this romance. Someone is trying to get Judith's brother, Peregrine, out of the way, and the way that she plotted that particular part of the book was genius. There were several bits of redirection that were extremely effective, and even the second time around, she confounded me a couple of times.


TL/DR: Keep the mystery, jettison the romance. A hero who threatens to beat the heroine is not a hero to root for.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-08-10 18:20
Ummmm, O.K., Georgette
Cousin Kate - Georgette Heyer

This was a very strange Heyer. It wasn't entirely without charm, but there were flaws a plenty. Let us begin with those (there are spoilers coming, so be warned):


First, this was supposed to be Heyer's version of a "gothic romance," but, yeah, there was absolutely NO SUSPENSE whatsoever. The suspense is the heart of the gothic: who's behind the mysterious happenings? Is the hero really a bad guy? Are there supernatural influences? Is the heroine mad, or is she really being stalked? What is going on with the ghostly footsteps/tapping in the gallery/movement of the tiny statuette of the frog . . . whatever? 


Heyer reveals everything by the midpoint of the book. Philip is in love with Kate. Kate is in love with Philip. Torquil is violently mentally ill. Aunt Minerva is terrible.This is not suspense, people.


Second, Heyer's depiction of Torquil's mental illness bears no relationship with what mental illness really looks like. I can forgive this to some degree, because it is obviously just a plot point, and a lot of gothics have "mad" people in them which also bear no resemblance to actual mental illness, but honestly, it feels like Heyer didn't even do the most rudimentary research, which given how carefully she researches the customs and shibboleths of the regency era seems like a pretty massive oversight here. It's a caricature.


The ending of that aspect of the plot is also bizarre and way too convenient.


Torquil loses whatever is left of his mind and murders his mother by strangling her in her bedroom. He then rushes from the house to throw himself off the local bridge and drowns. This is a pretty major WTF, especially since all of the remaining characters are basically "whatevs, it's a convenient end to an unhappy problem for the rest of the neighborhood, and oh, look, he's at peace now yay.

(spoiler show)


So, it fails as a gothic. But does it succeed as a romance?


And here I say yes. I love Kate - she is independent, forthright, candid and scrappy. All in all, a delightful Heyer heroine. She's not caught up in frivolities and snooty customs. I also loved Philip - he reminded me a bit of the Hero from The Quiet Gentleman. This is a man with substance - he's not a dandified youth with too many folds in his neckcloth, he appears not be even remotely obsessed by the shine of his Hessians or the cut of his coat. He's a landowner of better than average prospects who takes seriously his obligation to the land and the people who live on it. Totally refreshing here. He's also age appropriate. Yay.


The one aspect of the romance that doesn't work very well is the speed with which it occurs. But when there is a madman about, I suppose that a guy needs to move fast.


When I read a Heyer, I try to take a few moments at the end of it to consider whether or not I think that the couple will really stick. A lot of her romances, I am pretty unconvinced. This isn't one of those. I think that Kate & Philip will make it after all is said and done.


This is a book to read by Heyer completists as it is far from her best. It's definitely a second rate - maybe even a third rate - Heyer. But for all that, I still found parts of it charming.



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text 2017-08-09 17:05
Reading progress update: I've read 30%.
Cousin Kate - Georgette Heyer

Heyer wrote a gothic romance? Who knew.


So far, this one is a bit heavy-handed with the foreshadowing. Torquil sounds like an asshat.

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review 2017-03-06 13:18
The Grand Sophy ★★★☆☆
The Grand Sophy - Georgette Heyer

I have to agree with pretty much all the male characters in this story: Sophie is a terrifying woman. Well-intentioned, but a sly and manipulative busybody. A number of her schemes depend on luck, especially her dangerous games with horses. Still, it’s a fun story, and I really enjoyed everyone getting their hearts’ desire in the end, even people who don’t deserve it.


I subtracted a star for the disgustingly bigoted portrayal of the Jewish moneylender. I try to judge books with respect to the social attitudes of the time in which they were written, but this was written as a historical romance in 1950, not 1590.

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