Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Book Review: The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
Author: Georgette Heyer
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Content Alert: A few "damnables."
As a member of the Whitney Committee, I've had the opportunity to read a whole bunch of historical romances over the last five years. It seems that many of these stories are set in the Regency period in England, and that a majority of those stories seem to be written in the vein of the Jane Austen greats (with varying degrees of success). When I've talked with my friends about these novels, they invariably throw around the name Georgette Heyer as the gold standard in Regency romances. I had never read anything about Georgette Heyer, and when this book came up as the Audible deal of the day, I snapped it right up and started listening.
Heyer is pretty amazing, at least in The Grand Sophy, which is the story of what happens when the wealthy Ombersley family agrees to take in their cousin Sophy, whose father wants her to have a season in London after growing up abroad. Sophy is essentially a Mary Poppins of her time. She swoops in, monkey in tow, and proceeds to whip the dysfunctional family into a state of functionality. There are engagements to undo, debts to pay, horses to break, and hearts to heal. The book is wildly entertaining, and unlike so many other Regency romances I've read, Heyer gets her details right-- the characters talk in a way that sounds like they could come from their time period, but never in a way that distracts from the story. I couldn't tell when the book had been written (and was surprised to find out it was published in 1950). The characters feel fresh (if a little flat at times), and even though I knew what was going to happen at the end of the novel, the madcap finale was fully satisfying. This might be considered the best of Heyer's works, but it won't be the last I read.