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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Review: The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer (Excerpt Included)

Title: The Convenient Marriage
Author: Georgette Heyer
Pages: 320
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca; (February 1, 2009)
Genre: Fiction / Romance / Regency
Edition: Paperback - Many thanks to Sourcebooks for sending me a copy to review!!

Perfect for : Personal reading, book club read

In a nutshell: The Convenient Marriage is a fun, adventurous story, set in the 1770's - a little earlier than the typical Regency. The book takes off at a fast pace, with the Earl of Rule offering a marriage alliance to the Winwoods by offering for the eldest, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Winwood. Little does he know (but comes to find out) that Lizzie is already in love with a childhood neighbor. In an attempt to save her sister from a loveless marriage so she can marry her true love, the youngest Winwood daughter secretly visits the Earl of Rule with her maid. Horatia stammers out her intention of offering herself in marriage to the Earl in the place of her sister, explaining to the Earl that Lizzie is already in love with someone else. The Earl seems to find her refreshing (even finding her stammer endearing), so he agrees to her plan, little knowing that he is headed for high adventures himself as a result!

Extended Review:
Characters: Horatia is not perfect! (And really, in life, who is??) She is short, has straight eye brows that make her look very serious, and she stutters! The Earl of Rule is about twice her age, but seems to find Horatia refreshing, and ultimately falls in love with his young wife. Along with Horatia (Horry) and the Earl (Marcus), there is a host of supporting characters that really help to build the story line - there is even a highwayman, a duel, a murder. . .

Story-Line: I would say that the oddest part of the story is the age difference between Horatia and the Earl: she is 17, he is 35 and determined to let her grow up. . . and the fact that the Horatia has a stammer. Otherwise, the story is filled with humor and adventure, along with the budding relationship between the two main characters.

Readability: Overall a very easy and enjoyable read, but the stammer of the main character can be a little distracting at times (as a reader, you do get used to it the more you read).

Overall: While not my favorite book by Georgette Heyer, The Convenient Marriage is certainly a fun and entertaining read that allows fans of Regency books to get a glimpse of what life was like prior to the Regency era. Once you get used to the main character's stammer, the book is a very fun and enjoyable read with plenty of adventure and humor!

A special note about the book itself: Sourcebooks has cleverly printed the inside covers with full-color covers of Georgette Heyer's other books that have been re-printed by Sourcebooks. The covers are beautiful, and make looking for other Heyer books easy!

From the Publisher:
Horatia Winwood is simply helping her family
When the Earl of Rule proposes marriage to her sister Lizzie, Horatia offers herself instead. Her sister is already in love with someone else, and Horatia is willing to sacrifice herself for her family's happiness. Everyone knows she's no beauty, but she'll do her best to keep out of the Earl's way and make him a good wife. And then the Earl's archenemy, Sir Robert, sets out to ruin her reputation...

The Earl of Rule has found just the wife he wants
Unbeknownst to Horatia, the Earl is enchanted by her. There's simply no way he's going to let her get into trouble. Overcoming some misguided help from Horatia's harebrained brother and a hired highwayman, the Earl routs his old enemy, and wins over his young wife, gifting her with a love that she never thought she could expect.

Excerpt from the Publisher's Site:

Excerpt from Chapter One of The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer

Lady Winwood being denied, the morning caller inquired with some anxiety for Miss Winwood, or, in fact, for any of the young ladies. In face of the rumour which had come to her ears it would be too provoking if all the Winwood ladies were to withhold themselves. But the porter held the door fully open and said that Miss Winwood was at home.

Directing the coachman of her extremely smart town carriage to wait for her, Mrs Maulfrey stepped into the dim hall, and said briskly: 'Where is Miss Winwood? You need not be at the trouble of announcing me.'

All the young ladies, it seemed, were in the small saloon. Mrs Maulfrey nodded, and walked across the hall with a click of her high heels. As she ascended the stairs her armazine skirts, spread over very large paniers a coudes, brushed the banisters on either side of her. She reflected, not for the first time, that the stairway was too narrow, and the carpet positively shabby. She would be ashamed for her part of such old-fashioned furnishings; but although she claimed cousinship, she was not, she admitted to herself, a Winwood of Winwood.

The small saloon, by which name the porter designated a back sitting-room given over to the use of the young ladies, lay up one pair of stairs, and was well known to Mrs Maulfrey. She tapped with her gloved hand on one of the panels of the door, and entered on the echo of her knock.

The three Misses Winwood were grouped by the window, presenting an artless and agreeable picture. Upon a faded yellow satin sopha sat Miss Winwood and Miss Charlotte, their arms entwined about each other's waists. They were much alike, but Miss Winwood was held to be the greater beauty. Her classic profile was turned to the door, but upon Mrs Maulfrey's rustling entrance she looked round and displayed to the visitor a pair of melting blue eyes and a sweet, arched mouth that formed at the moment an O of mild surprise. A quantity of fair curls dressed without powder and threaded by a blue riband framed her face and tumbled on to her shoulders in several ordered locks.

Miss Charlotte was not seen to advantage beside the Beauty of the Family, but she was a true Winwood, with the famous straight nose and the same blue eyes. Her curls, not quite so fair as her sister's, owed their existence to hot irons, her eyes were of a shallower blue, and her colouring inclined towards the sallow; but she was allowed to be a very well-looking young lady.

Miss Horatia, the youngest of the three, had nothing that declared her lineage except her nose. Her hair was dark, her eyes a profound grey, and her brows, nearly black and
rather thick, were quite straight, and gave her a serious, almost frowning, expression. No amount of careful training would induce an arch in them. She was quite half a head
shorter than her sisters, and, at the age of seventeen, was obliged regretfully to admit that she was not likely to grow any taller.

When Mrs Maulfrey came into the room Horatia was seated on a low stool by the sopha, propping her chin in her hands, and scowling dreadfully. Or perhaps, thought Mrs Maulfrey, that was just a trick of those preposterous eyebrows.

All three sisters wore morning toilets of worked muslin over slight hoops, with tiffany sashes round their waists. Countrified, thought Mrs Maulfrey, giving her fringed silk mantle a satisfied twitch.

'My dears!' she exclaimed. 'I came the instant I heard! Tell me at once, is it true? Has Rule offered?'

Miss Winwood, who had risen gracefully to receive her cousin, seemed to droop and to grow pale. 'Yes,' she said faintly. 'Alas, it is quite true, Theresa.'

Mrs Maulfrey's eyes grew round with respect. 'Oh, Lizzie!' she breathed. 'Rule! A Countess! Twenty thousand a year, I have heard, and I daresay it may be found to be more!'

Miss Charlotte set a chair for her, observing with a reproving note in her voice: 'We believe Lord Rule to be a most eligible gentleman. Though no one,' she added, clasping Miss Winwood's hand tenderly, ';however genteel, could be worthy of our dearest Lizzie!'

'Lord, Charlotte!' said Mrs Maulfrey tartly, 'Rule's the biggest prize in the market, and you know it. It is the most amazing piece of good fortune ever I heard. Though I will say,
Lizzie, you deserve it. Yes, you do, and I am quite enchanted for you. Only to think of the Settlements!'

'I find the thought of Settlements particularly indelicate, Theresa,' said Miss Charlotte. 'Mama will no doubt arrange with Lord Rule, but Lizzie cannot be supposed to concern herself with such sordid questions as the size of Lord Rule's fortune.'

The youngest Miss Winwood, who all the time had continued to sit with her chin in her hands, suddenly raised her head and delivered herself of one shattering word. 'S-stuff !' she said, in a deep little voice that just quivered on a stammer.

Miss Charlotte looked pained; Miss Winwood gave a rather wan smile. 'Indeed, I fear Horry is in the right,' she said sadly.

'It is just the Fortune.' She sank on to the sopha again, and gazed fixedly out of the window.

Mrs Maulfrey became aware that the steady blue eyes were swimming in tears. 'Why, Lizzie!' she said. 'One would think you had had dark tidings instead of a splendid Offer!'

'Theresa!' intoned Miss Charlotte, putting both arms about her sister. 'Is this worthy of you? Can it be that you have forgotten Mr Heron?'

Mrs Maulfrey had forgotten Mr Heron. Her jaw dropped slightly, but she recovered in a moment. 'To be sure: Mr Heron,' she said. 'It is very afflicting, but - Rule, you know! I don't say poor Mr Heron is not a very estimable creature, but a mere lieutenant, dearest Lizzie, and I daresay will soon have to go back to that horrid war in America - it's not to be thought of, my love!'

'No,' said Elizabeth in a suffocated voice. 'Not to be thought of.'

Horatia's dark gaze dwelled broodingly on her second sister. 'I think it would be a very good thing if Charlotte were to have R-Rule,' she pronounced.

'Horry!' gasped Charlotte.

'Lord, my dear, what things you say!' remarked Mrs Maulfrey indulgently. 'It's Elizabeth Rule wants.'

Horatia shook her head vehemently. 'No. Only a Winwood,' she said in the tense way she had. 'All arranged years ago. I d-don't believe he's set eyes on L-Lizzie upwards of half a d-dozen times. It can't signify.'


About the Author: (from the publisher's site)
The late Georgette Heyer was a very private woman. Her historical novels have charmed and delighted millions of readers for decades, though she rarely reached out to the public to discuss her works or personal life. She was born in Wimbledon in August 1902, and her first novel, The Black Moth, published when she was 19, was an instant success.

Heyer published 56 books over the next 53 years, until her death from lung cancer in 1974. Her work included Regency novels, mysteries and historical fiction. Known also as the Queen of Regency romance, Heyer was legendary for her research, historical accuracy and her extraordinary plots and characterizations. Her last book, My Lord John, was published posthumously in 1975. She was married to George Ronald Rougier, a barrister, and they had one son, Richard.

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Meghan said...

This was such a wonderful book. I couldn't believe how funny it was and how much I liked the characters. You're right, they're not perfect, that just makes them better! Horatia's stammer was a little distracting at first, but it soon "disappeared" as I got absorbed into the book.

Jess said...

I had trouble with this book. Horry was a tough character for me. I know she is flawed but she was so annoying some times. I stopped reading after 100 pages. Maybe I should try another book by this author?

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