29/03/2010

The Nonesuch (by Georgette Heyer)

As I say repeatedly, I love Georgette Heyer's novels, and particularly her 'regency romances'. I re-read them all periodically, and enjoy them afresh every time.

I last read 'The Nonesuch' in 2004. That was the fourth time I had read it; so after a gap of six years, I read it again in the past week. It's not so fast-moving as some of Heyer's novels; the humour is underplayed, and the people rather grew on me through the book. While I remembered the most important parts of the plot, I'd forgotten the details and enjoyed it very much once more.

It's the story of Waldo, a philanthropic Corinthian, who inherits a run-down house. He moves there temporarily with a young cousin Julian to supervise extensive repairs, and quickly gets to know some of the local folk.

The heroine is the quiet and rather prudish Ancilla Trent who is companion/governess to a spoilt beauty called Tiffany. Ancilla is blessed with great integrity, and also a wonderful sense of humour. All the young men in the neighbourhood dance attendance on Tiffany, who delights in playing the off against each other; unsurprisingly, Julian is quite bowled over too. It's quickly clear, however, that Tiffany is a remarkably selfish person.

The characters are delightful, even if some of the minor ones are rather caricatured. The novel is cleverly plotted, as always with Heyer; there are several amusing misunderstandings, which actually made me chuckle aloud in the last few pages. I thought it excellent overall even after the fifth re-read. 

Recommended to anyone who likes historical fiction of this style; anyone not used to it might find the language used a bit daunting at first, but it's simpler than - for instance - Jane Austen.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 29th March 2010

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