April Lady (by Georgette Heyer)

I had a few days on my own, and wanted to recharge a bit after a fairly busy time. So, what better than to curl up in my beanbag with one of my old favourite Georgette Heyer novels? They are my ideal comfort reading - and although I've read her light historical romances many times, I love to re-read them all every few years.

I last read 'April Lady' in 2005. I mostly remembered the plot beforehand, and more of it as I read - but as ever with Heyer's novels, enjoyed it very much.

This story is about the marriage between Giles, Lord Cardross, and Nell, who is rather younger than he is. Each thinks that the other married more for convenience than love... since Nell is very pretty, and Cardross extremely wealthy. However, since Nell keeps getting herself into financial difficulties, it's difficult for them to communicate about what really matters.

Just to confuse matters, Nell has a rather wild and extravagant brother Dysart, and Giles has a highly emotional sister Letty. Heyer's skill manages to make these two into delightful young people, despite the fact that if I met either of them in real life I probably wouldn't like them much. Letty is in love with a very prosaic young man whom she is determined to marry despite the fact that she is barely 17....

The interactions between all these characters drive this story forward. It's mainly told from Nell's perspective, but in conversation the reader sees beyond her naivete to appreciate the perspectives of the others. I felt, again, frustration at the way Nell and Cardross kept missing each other emotionally, being driven further apart by misunderstandings.. and that despite knowing that it would, of course, all be resolved in the end.

Georgette Heyer undoubtedly wrote to a formula. One of her classic plot methods is to gather up all her characters towards the end of a book, to sort out whatever had gone wrong and to unite her hero and heroine. She does that nicely in this book, with some amusing scenes and some plain talking, and a highly satisfactory conclusion all round.

Not one of my absolute favourites, but a good read nonetheless. It's still in print on both sides of the Atlantic, over 50 years after it was published, and is also widely available second-hand. Recommended.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 14th April 2012

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