The Corinthian (by Georgette Heyer)

I have been reading books by Georgette Heyer ever since I was given a selection of her regency romances in my teens, by one of my aunts. Over the years I have managed to collect all the rest of Heyer’s books that are in print, mostly second-hand, and have sometimes even replaced one or two that were falling apart through to too many re-reads.

I like to pick up a Heyer novel when I need something relaxing, engrossing, and yet not too demanding. ‘The Corinthian’ is one that I acquired and first read in 1987, and then re-read twice in the 1990s, and most recently in 2006. It was more than time for another re-read.

The story is about Sir Richard Wyndham, a rather bored upper-class ‘Corinthian’ - a term used for an elegantly dressed man of fashion who was also an excellent rider, and (respected at the time) skilled in other sports. Richard is in his late twenties and his family keep urging him to get married. His father made an agreement many years previously that he should marry Melissa, a rather upright and outspoken young woman from a well-born but impecunious family.

He has decided that, since he has never fallen in love with anyone else, he might as well propose to her, but the prospect is rather depressing so he goes to his club, and gets somewhat inebriated. He sets off home in the early hours, and is startled to see someone climbing out of a window…

Sir Richard finds himself embroiled in unexpected adventures with the impetuous and delightful Pen Creed who is running away from home, planning to find her childhood sweetheart. A straightforward journey is fraught with dangers and unlikely people, and all written in Heyer’s historically realistic and exuberant style. I have learned more about the 18th and 19th centuries from her writing than I ever did in school history lessons.

It’s not one of my absolute favourite books; there are some unpleasant scenes towards the end, which I had entirely forgotten in the past ten years. Moreover, the ending is a little more sudden than I would have liked, although entirely satisfactory. But it was an enjoyable light read, and certainly fulfilled my requirements of a good story that is undemanding and pleasant to read.

Regularly re-printed in various paperback editions.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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