30/07/2012

The Masqueraders (by Georgette Heyer)

I do like re-reading Georgette Heyer's historical novels! While I seem to have an almost permanently full shelf of books I have not yet read, I always keep a Heyer on hand for a few days of comfort reading and guaranteed enjoyment.

I last read 'The Masqueraders' in 2005.  Seven years is quite long ago enough for me to have forgotten more than the outline of the plot, and I determined not to rush through it.

This book isn't set in Heyer's usual Regency period, but in the time just following the Jacobite rebellion, so there are mentions of the tragedy of Culloden, albeit brief, and the horrors of executions. Perhaps that makes it slightly more thought-provoking than some of her other books, and also a bit more blasé about serious duels and violence... which do, indeed, occur in the book.

The main two characters are a brother and sister whom we meet right at the start of the book, travelling to London to meet their eccentric and rather wayward father. They take a break for a meal, and overhear what is clearly a reluctant elopement... and decide to get involved.  It quickly becomes clear that the brother and sister are not exactly what they seem to be...

.. and that, basically, is all I remembered of the book, other than the final outcome, which could have been predicted by a new reader anyway.

There are some delightful people in this story. The two stars are likeable, courageous and regularly frustrated by their arrogant (but loveable) father. Sir Anthony Fanshawe, a large but surprisingly nimble gentleman, quickly became one of my favourites too. I wasn't quite so keen on Letty, the young heroine rescued at the start of the book; she seems a bit flat, and over naive.  Still, she doesn't play too big a part in the actual plot; she feels more like a prop to move it along and provide some extra drama.

I don't, of course, know whether Georgette Heyer's apparently authentic language and speech is actually from the correct period, or if it even existed; nonetheless, she has created a consistent and believable world for her characters, and I found myself immersed in it, reading at every spare moment. I took care not to skim, but to enjoy ever nuance of the book - and found that there were some parts of the plot which I had completely forgotten.

All in all, a very enjoyable story, with a highly dramatic climax, even if the ending itself is not unexpected.

Recommended.

As with most of Heyer's books, this can fairly easily be found second-hand, but is also re-printed regularly. It's now available on Kindle too, in both US and UK editions.


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