The Talisman Ring (by Georgette Heyer)

Georgette Heyer is one of my all-time favourite authors. I started reading some of her historical novels in my teens, gradually collected more of them over several years, and re-read them regularly.

I last read 'The Talisman Ring' in 2004, so it was definitely time to re-read. This is the fourth time I've read this novel - the first being in 1987 when I bought it at a market stall - and I've enjoyed it every time.

The story features several main characters. Sir Tristram is a likeable kind of man, if rather abrupt and apparently lacking in sensibility. His great-uncle Sylvester, rather a tyrant, wants Tristram to marry his cousin Eustacie who is an orphan. Eustacie is French, very romantic, and determined to have an adventure. All is set for them to have a marriage of convenience when Sylvester dies a little earlier than expected.

Then Eustacie has second thoughts... and decides to run away.

Meanwhile there is mystery and scandal attached to the family. Tristram's cousin Basil, a 'beau' who dresses rather oddly and behaves very smoothly, is not popular with his great-uncle, but may end up head of the family with his great-uncle's title, unless they can find Ludovic, a grandson, who was forced to flee the country some years previously after, apparently, murdering someone who beat him at cards, for the sake of an unusual ring.

In addition to these various family members, there's the delightful Sarah Thane, apparently prosaic but also wishing to be part of an adventure, and her brother Hugh, who is rather large, keen on brandy, and a Justice of the Peace. Which makes life interesting when they're staying at an inn whose spirits are mainly supplied by smugglers...

It's an exciting adventure, with some suspense, and sufficient complexity that although I remembered the overall direction of the plot, I'd forgotten most of the details. Once started, it was hard to put down.

Highly recommended to anyone who likes historical romance with a fair amount of action. 'The Talisman Ring' was one of Georgette Heyer's earlier novels, first published in 1936, but almost continually in print.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 11th November 2010

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