Pistols for Two (by Georgette Heyer)

I do like Georgette Heyer's historical novels. I started reading them when I was about sixteen, over thirty years ago, and have been reading and re-reading them ever since.

I'm not entirely sure why I haven't re-read 'Pistols for Two' for about thirteen years, but was pleased to rectify the situation in the last few days. It's a book of short stories rather than a novel - as far as I know, it's Heyer's only published collection of short stories.

The first story is the one with the book title, featuring a girl desperate to stop a duel between a peer and her brother. It has lovely characterisation, and a clever plot. I could just about remember the mild twist - I have read the book at least for times before now, even though not for a long time - but enjoyed it thoroughly.

Other chapters feature arranged marriages, elopements, balls, mistaken identities, and even a gothic suspense story. None of them is more than about twenty pages long, yet each one introduces people who are immediately believable and sympathetic.

The plotting, as always with Heyer, is superb; with the short story format there's no time for several subplots, as happen in her novels, but there are still undercurrents, and minor characters who are more than just space-fillers.

All in all, very enjoyable. Recommended to anyone who likes this style, or who wants an introduction to Georgette Heyer's Regency style without the length and complexity of a novel. Still in print in the UK, and frequently available second-hand.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 9th October 2008

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