This book...I like it!
Sylvester was just so sweet, and so much fun. When Sylvester Rayne, the charming young duke of Salford, decides it is time to get himself a wife (a role that just about any young woman in England would love to fill), his godmother encourages him to consider one of her granddaughters, Phoebe Marlow. Plain, unrefined, and frequently tactless, Phoebe has not much to recommend her other than her sparkling wit. Sylvester is shocked and insulted to discover that Miss Marlow apparently detests him, but when she runs away from home, he finds himself coming to her aid. Will misunderstandings keep them quarreling forever?? WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE END??? (yes, we all know what will happen. but wouldn't you enjoy reading it to find out for yourself?)
As a writer who was clearly a Jane Austen fan, Heyer hits all the right spots here. The intelligent, somewhat naïve heroine who loves sentimental, sensational Gothic romances was clearly a tribute to Northanger Abbey. Likewise, a hero-heroine relationship filled with as much fiery indignation as attraction certainly brought to mind the now-archetypal Pride and Prejudice pairing.
And yet, this book is very much its own little historical romance. In fact, something that I thought was very interesting was the kind of language Heyer used, especially in her dialogue. I'm the farthest thing from an expert on Regency etiquette, but here and there, she has characters using expressions the likes of which I've never seen in any of Austen's novels. Rather, Heyer's dialogue seems sometimes to emulate, say, the clever banter in some old 40's or 50's film with Cary Grant. These books are now old enough that they allow us to revel in the charm of two different eras! We get to see the beautiful, fascinating world of Regency England as imagined by a woman who grew up at the turn of the century. How doubly delightful.
So...if you've already read all of Jane Austen's novels and watched all of the BBC adaptations five times each this summer, and are looking for something new... here ya go. Enjoy!
Image source: austenprose.com