Sprig Muslin (by Georgette Heyer)

When I want some comfort reading that's a little more challenging than teenage fiction, I very often turn to Georgette Heyer. I try to leave a gap of about five or six years between each re-reading, although her book sare so well-written and enjoyable that I could happily re-read them more often.

I last read 'Sprig Muslin' in 2005 and, when I started it, had mostly forgotten what it was about. The plot gradually returned to me as I read, although I had not remembered all the twists and excitements. The story is a bit like 'Charity Girl', but I think, overall, I like this one even more.

Sir Gareth Ludlow is the hero of this book. He's not a typically dashing man - he's in his thirties, and knows it's his duty to be married. Many years ago he lost the girl of his dreams, and has not found anyone to match up to her.

So, after much thought, he decides to make an offer to his friend Lady Hester, a girl in her late 20s who is thought to be on the shelf. She lives with her obnoxious brother and sister-n-law and is rather too biddable, running around after her various relatives, not liking to argue with any of them.

However, on the way to Hester's home, he comes across a spirited girl of nearly 17 who has run away from home. Sir Gareth is a man of high principles, which would make him a bit dull if he weren't also endowed with a nice sense of humour.

He feels morally obliged to take care of Amanda, thinking of his own niece who is around the same age... but in doing so runs into a great deal more adventure than he could possibly have imagined.

It's a lovely story, with very low-key romance, plenty of amusement and several chases as Amanda's fertile imagination and extreme naiveté run away with her. Very enjoyable.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 16th March 2011

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