So I was on stumble upon and it directed me the text of the above novel. I had been wanting to read some of Georgette Heyer’s novels for a while, seeing as they were set during the Georgian Period and seem to be the kind of cliché, trashy novel that I enjoy. By the way when I say trashy, I guess I just mean more…predictable and an easy read. It isn’t meant to be in any way a derogatory term, I love these kind of novels. It is just something that I wouldn’t buy in Waterstones, it is more of an Amazon purchase, so I was over delighted when I discovered I could read it online for free. I e-mailed the link to my work address and read it in between calls.
When I started reading it, I was, to be honest, a bit bored. Also the prologue completely confused me. Not sure there was any need for it to be honest – I even read it after I had finished the book, and while it made a bit more sense it was still unnecessary – but it was her first novel, and you know, I couldn’t write one. Carrying on…I found myself getting pulled more and more into it, was really enjoying it, was raging every time a call came through, then, this happened.
““I–once—” heavens, how hard it was to say! “I once . . . cheated . . . at cards.” It was out. Now she would turn from him in disgust. He shut his eyes in anticipation of her scorn, his head turned away.”
Not entirely sure why I was surprised as this was pretty much the premise for a lot of the novel. I am aware it seems ridiculous, but in context it does make logical sense (to an extent) – as it was set the 18th century, when people loved to gamble (lets be fair, there wasn’t much else to do if you are upper class in 18th century Britain) and he got busted cheating at cards for money. Which to most people is pretty big, but more “You are never playing cards with us again” as opposed to fleeing the country, returning and becoming a highway man and then telling the bird you fancy that you can’t get with her, well, because once you cheated at cards….FOR MONEY… and now your are a social outcast who cannot ever again be accepted into polite society. I am not sure how realistic this was even for the period, but Heyer was considered one of the experts in this field and few people knew as much as she about the linguistic structure of the language at this time as she. So, it is probably relatively accurate even though the novel probably takes several liberties along the same vein as Pride & Prejudice (marrying for love and upwards in the social strata etc).
I also noticed an excessive use of the word “monstrous”, not a particularly common word, but I am assuming it was common in the lexicon of the time, along with “la” and some other words which I appear to have forgotten. There was also quite a lot of French (note: about 4 uses), which I do not understand, so I just made up translations. Still couldn’t work out what “miladi était ravissante! mais ravissante” and I tried to use an online translator, but it came out as gibberish which made no sense even in context, so I just pretended it wasn’t important. I also learned some new words, which was over exciting. Words like “Tippit”, which is an animal fur neck and a tasty sounding drink called “Negus”, which is a drink made of wine, most commonly port, mixed with hot water, spiced and sugared. I will probably attempt to make this one night while drunk. Or you know, just drink Mulled Wine since it is almost certainly the same thing.
The historical references were really good, she made a delightful reference to Madame Pompadour and then also a reference to an actual society wedding, which allows you to place the novel in the exact year in which the events are taking place. I really did enjoy how specific the novel was in its timeframe and also the descriptions of the fashions at the time. I personally prefer a slightly later period to that in which this was set so found the styles quite old fashioned, but appropriate to the period. There were several other references, but alas, something else I have forgotten. I need to take better notes.
All in all, I really enjoyed it, and would recommend as a light read if you don’t want anything too taxing. I for one, will be downloading some of her other novels once I get my Kindle!