Friday, October 2, 2009

September Book Review Blog Chain

I’ve committed to one post a month on Simone’s blog and the Absolute Write Water Cooler is a fun way for me to do so. Besides, I did it over tea at Simone’s and control freak that she is, I had but tell her the premise and she did most the writing. This is my review and I follow the charming aimeelaine -

It's more a Writer’s Review (meant for writers than a review for the intended readers)

The book is Georgette Heyer's The Convenient Marriage

A good romance writer shares two things with a master painter. Firstly they present to you a private interpretation and make you adopt it as your own. If they’re gifted, you feel like a part the story, and if your author can truly deliver, you’ll fall in love with the portrait that’s been created.

With language as cunning and witty as one of Shakespeare’s quips, Georgette Heyer’s The Convenient Marriage tells the story of Horatia Winwood or ‘Horry,’ as she is known to us, a stuttering, stammering thickly-browed maiden who proposes marriage to the gentleman intended for her sister in order to save said sister from a loveless marriage. The two marry and quickly become the talk of the ton, where Horry is a success… that is until the scheming of those thirsty for her husband’s blood, conspire to use her naivety to plot her ruin.

Horatia’s husband Marcus Drelincourt, the Earl of Rule brings with him, a jealous ex-mistress and a nemesis ripe with the need for vengeance. A fact, that soon puts her in peril from which he has to save her. He’s charming and loves her though, so of course, one adores him and for the first one hundred pages or so, the reader is also enchanted by his impetuous bride. But alas, her antics soon squander all patience.

Horatia’s environment is lavishly painted with luxuries, tastefully arranged. Rooms filled with excesses that delight and lend to the story showing the young woman’s lack of sophistication or as a setting for her folly. This matter is perfectly illustrated in this delightful excerpt when she allows herself to be locked in with her husband’s arch nemesis.

“’Behold me!’ Lethbridge replied, flinging himself into a chair.

Horatia nodded, and followed his example. ‘P-please try and be sensible, my l-lord,’ she requested. ‘It isn't the least use telling me that you have fallen in l-love with me, because I d-don't believe it. Why did you bring me here?’

‘To steal your virtue,’ he answered flippantly. ‘You see, I am quite frank with you.’

‘W-well, I can be frank too,’ retorted Horatia, her eyes gleaming. ‘And if you think you are g-going to ravish m-me, you quite mistake the m-matter! I'm much nearer to the door than you are.’

‘True, but it is locked, and the key’ - he patted his pocket - ‘is here!’

‘Oh!’ said Horatia. ‘So you don't even play f-fair!’

‘Not in love,’ he replied.

‘I wish,’ said Horatia forcefully, ‘you would stop talking about l-love. It makes me feel sick.’”

For a maiden who was willing to sacrifice her happiness for that of her family, Horatia is often a vexing protagonist. She lacks foresight, functioning commonsense or anything that could be mistaken for discretion. Mrs Heyer’s brilliance eases the way for this troublesome heroine with mastery that makes the intolerable utterly enjoyable (see excerpt above).

The Convenient Marriage is a cautionary tale with a happy ending and, by the end, one is at least pleased that the tortured Earl has what he so desired: the affections of his wife.

Georgette Heyer writes with the heart of a romantic and the expertise of a historian, which leads to lot of her modern 1830’s ideals set accurately in 1776, a skill that makes her the quintessential role model for the modern romance writer. She is brilliant at evoking sentiment and effortlessly manipulates both character and reader for her own end. Mrs Heyer invents for us, a world both familiar and uniquely hers with a simple turn of phrase.

Mrs Heyer’s romance is brutally fanciful without being trite and for that alone she ought to be praised. Her unyielding hero pushes the story forward and we follow, often entertained, thanks to Heyer’s clever dialogue.

The Convenient Marriage is a signature Heyer being intimate and decadent with all the sex done behind closed doors. It’s a pretty picture painted by a master and thus a must for any inspiring regency writer.

I'm followed by the lovely Lady Cat - and Edielin - please enjoy the rest of the chain.



  1. I'm marvelled at your blog! It is so beautifully written, I'm bewitched. I'd like to have your talent. Nice Weekend!

    P.S: Your comment made me cry, as it was so beautiful.
    Do not lose heart with your quest for an agent!

  2. Right its official you are my new favourite person :) Thank you so very much for coming by and making my day.

  3. That was a beautifully done review!

    I'd forgotten how much I enjoy Georgette Heyer, thank you for reminding me!

  4. Claire and Simone,
    The review is brilliant. I really like your writing.