When I find an author I love, I make a practice of reading all of their novels, from first to last, to see how they develop as a writer.
Growing up in Britain, I knew the name Georgette Heyer but I don’t believe I read any of her books. It is only recently, that I discovered her when I opened The Masqueraders, believing it to be her first novel (it is actually her fourth) and was completely blown away by it. What I really loved about that novel is that the three protagonists ~ the aristocratic father, his son and heir Robin, and daughter Prudence are all devilishly clever, and it is wonderful to watch them get out of a dangerous fix.
Now, I have read another novel by Georgette Heyer, one of her so-called “Georgian” novels, The Convenient Marriage. In this novel, I was stuck with how much research Ms. Heyer did on 18-century equipages. We have phaetons, racing curricles, chaises-and-four, and other toys that aristocratic men of the time were so fond of. The thought of Lord Rule driving himself along the Bath Road in a racing curricle drawn by two stallions who were literally champing at the bit made my blood run cold. For the Bath Road at that time would have been full of stones and holes. How Lord R. managed to drive himself along it at 50? 60? or even 70 miles an hour without breaking his neck is truly a miracle.
But what really makes this novel are the characters. There is the protagonist Miss Horatia Winwood, who goes by the delightful nickname “Horry”, and her husband Lord Rule whose suitably intimidating name belies the fact that he is actually a very nice man. But what I loved about Lord R. is how smart he is. He is one of those Georgette Heyer characters who exude ennui, but his sleepy eyes miss nothing and when his wife’s reputation is threatened he is terrifying. Then there is the comic duo of Horry’s brother Pelham and his side-kick Sir Roland Pommeroy, who provide light relief in what is a very fraught and angsty tale, at least for poor Horry.
Replete with sparking dialogue, rapier wit, and sword-play, this is an early novel that you won’t want to miss. Five Stars.