Thursday, February 16, 2012
Author: Georgette Heyer
Genre: Historical fiction, romance
Read for: Fun
Venetia has lived a secluded life with her crippled and sardonic brother, Aubrey. Her beautiful mother died when she was young, and her reclusive father prevented her from being presented to society or meeting anyone. Despite this, she has two devoted suitors, eager to win her hand. However, she is completely thrown overboard when the scandalous rake Lord Damerel returns to his abandoned estate near Venetia's home and takes into his head to woo her.
This is my first Georgette Heyer, and I loved it. While the primary focus of the story was love (and a little bit of scandal), it did not fall victim to fluffiness. Venetia was sharp and witty; despite her reclusive upbringing, she is neither naive nor innocent. She is unwilling to settle just to escape from her circumstances; if she doesn't find love, she declares she will live independently, throwing aside the propriety of her age and following her own desires. She was spunky and did whatever she wanted, and in her rigid, manners-minded context, it was absolutely delightful.
The supporting characters were just as delightful. As this is a Regency romance, it is impossible to avoid a comparison to Jane Austen; just like Austen, Heyer incorporated a strong supporting cast that was hilarious in their social interactions. My favorite character was without a doubt Aubrey, who is sympathetic in that he suffers from his physical handicap, but at the same time cynical and anti-social, constantly insulting people that he doesn't like. The overbearing mother of her sister-in-law was one of those delightfully caricatured characters that is a joy to detest.
The plot was also an enjoyable ride, full of twists and turns. While certain elements were predictable -- I wonder if the rake will feel guilty for romancing the innocent? I wonder if the innocent will listen to his qualms? -- there were also several unexpected twists.
It wasn't an earth-shaking or brilliant story, but it was an extremely pleasant ride with many unexpected plot elements. For a fun romantic read in the style of Jane Austen (but with a little bit of modern independence from our heroine), Venetia is an excellent place to turn.
Warnings: Vague allusions to Lord Damerel's scandalous past.