Charity Girl (by Georgette Heyer)

Georgette Heyer's historical fiction is my 'comfort reading'. I own all her books - or as many as can be found - and re-read them all regularly.

I last read 'Charity Girl' in 2003; it's one of my all-time favourites. The story is about a nice, unassuming Viscount (Desford) who befriends a young girl (Cherry) in all innocence when he sees her peeping through the bannisters at a dance. She doesn't much like her home, living with her snobby aunt and cousins, who treat her like dirt and expect her to be an unpaid servant without even a word of thanks. But he would probably have forgotten all about her, had it not been for Fate, the following morning.

Before long Desford is involved in a chase around the country, suspected of having abducted Cherry, when all he wants is to find her paternal grandfather.

Desford is a likeable hero; I was also very taken with his close friend Henrietta - Hetta - whom he frequently asks for advice, and his young brother Simon who's living a somewhat rackety life (in Heyer's language) but is very good-hearted. Some of the minor characters are amusingly caricatured, hardly believable; but they make the story all the more enjoyable, in my opinion.

Although I remembered the basic outline of the plot from my previous reading six and a half years ago, there was plenty to enjoy afresh. I read it in just a few days, picking it up before I went to sleep, but then finding it difficult to put down. The plot is fast-moving, the conclusion satisfying, with one or two unexpected twists as well as the expected happy ending.

Highly recommended to anyone who likes light historical fiction. Still apparently in print on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as widely available second-hand.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 7th January 2010

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