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||[Dec. 3rd, 2010|11:36 pm]
I've read a bunch more romances this week, almost all Georgette Heyer. Lots of fun for the most part.
I was feeling a bit unhappy and picked up Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier to read. Oh, what a bad choice. This is not a happy book. My mom owns it and had been reading it recently, so I was a bit curious. I didn't want to read it in translation when I could easily obtain and read it in the original language, so I borrowed it from the library. My mom compared it to Jane Eyre, and I can see the resemblance. I...liked it about as much as Jane Eyre, which is not much. It's too depressing and also a bit crazy. My biggest problem was the main character, the second Mrs. de Winters. She is SO blah. I can tolerate a lot of crazy and a lot of stupid, but not with such a blah main character. I need to care about the characters for me to swallow crazy melodrama. The opening sentence and the last paragraph are pretty awesome, but otherwise I could've easily lived without reading it. One bit of trivia from the wikipedia on the book that amused me: The book was to be used as a code source by the Germans in WWII. It's just so incongruous. ^^;
I had to remedy my mistake in picking up an unhappy book when I needed cheering up, so I immediately started reading
April's Lady Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer. This is a truly silly book filled with rather silly people. It's about a reckless young Viscount who, on a whim, elopes with a very young and penniless childhood friend. His wife adores him and thinks the world of him. She follows his (not so good) example time and again and gets into all kinds of scrapes. He, who'd never had to care about anything much, finds himself having to guide her and regretting all the reckless and silly things he says and does because his innocent wife believes in him utterly. The last part is quite satisfying, not in the least because they both do manage to grow up a little bit more.
I then read These Old Shades, which is quite a bit better overall than
April's Lady Friday's Child. It's set at an earlier time period, during the reign of Louis VX of France, in France and England. An English duke runs into (is run into by) a boy, whom he takes on as a page. Turns out the boy is a girl, and someone he suspects he can use to get sweet, sweet revenge on an old enemy. He takes her back to England to groom her into a lady, but they end up back in France for the whirlwind final act that includes taking the town by storm and getting that long-overdue revenge. The duke is older, the girl is young, and he acts as her strict guardian. He's been a bad, bad man who plans to do more bad things, she's a high-spirited wild-child who loves to dress as a boy and fence, and they naturally end up falling in love. It's very dramatic and glamorous and also rather dark. But very entertaining. Sadly, I didn’t take to the characters. They are fun to read about, but they felt really artificial...Maybe too perfect?
The Corinthian is about an orphaned girl with a large fortune being pressured by her aunt to marry her repulsive cousin who decides to run away to see her childhood sweetheart. Dressed as a boy. She makes a rope out of sheets to escape out the window, but it doesn't quite reach the street. Luckily for her, a drunk gentleman is walking home just then. He catches her. He decides that he can't just let her scamper off, so he takes her to his home. When he learns of her tale, he decides that he really can't just let her scamper off. He'll take her to see this childhood sweetheart himself. So...the next day they set off on an adventure. The first half of the book is truly charming. The girl is young and happy and totally enjoys the trip. The gentleman is refined and resourceful and a very good chaperone. The interactions between the two and the people they meet along are very fun. Unfortunately, the story derails into silliness. I think too much was piled in, one incredible thing after another. The very end was nice, but I can't quite say I was happy with all the derailing craziness in the middle.
The Convenient Marriage is my favorite of this bunch, almost rivaling Cotillion. In this one the very eligible Earl of Rule (LOVE that name!) offers to marry the very lovely eldest daughter of a very good family without much money (thanks to the family curse of love of gambling...and really bad luck XD;). Unfortunately, she's in love with someone else who doesn't have the money the family needs so it looks like she'll have to accept. The youngest daughter Horatia (Horry), however, figures out the perfect solution. She goes over to the Earl's residence and explains the whole business, that her oldest sister is in love with someone else, her second sister doesn't want to marry anyone, and that the family really needs his money. And she offers herself. She's very frank in the way that young, strong-willed girls can be (and the whole conversation is hilarious to the extreme). The Earl accepts her proposition, and they marry. Of course things don't go smoothly. They are quite apart in years (he's apparently about 35 and she's 17).The Earl has a mistress, and an enemy. The enemy decides to use the young Horry to get some revenge on the Earl...And things get a bit complicated. In any case, I love this book a lot. Fabulous dialogue with lots of understated drollness. I can't believe how many lines I want to quote! I rather liked all the characters, even the bad ones. Horry is adorable....See the excerpt from their initial conversation below.
Horatia seemed determined to make a clean breast of her blemishes. "And p-perhaps you could become used to my eyebrows?"
The smile lurked at the back of Rule's eyes. "I think, quite easily."
She said sadly: "They won't arch, you know. And I ought to t-tell you that we have quite given up hope of my growing any taller."
"It would certainly be a pity if you did," said his lordship.
"D-do you think so?" Horatia was surprised. "It is a great trial to me, I can assure you." She took a breath, and added, with difficulty: "You m-may have noticed that I have a -a stammer."
"Yes, I had noticed," the Earl answered gently.
"If you f-feel you can't b-bear it, sir, I shall quite understand," Horatia said in a small, anxious voice.
I adore Horry, that she's not beautiful and has a stammer but manages to be the talk of the town because of her vivaciousness. I adore how Rule is usually somewhat indolent but is actually totally in control, totally aware, and can snap into action as needed. I love how they get stuck into an almost father/daughter relationship and can't quite break out until the end.
I'm glad that Horry has quite a bit of agency. She manages to save herself when Lethbridge tries to ruin her! I adore the exchange between Lethbridge and Rule after their duel, when Lethbridge explains what happened:
"...Let's be done with this. Your wife took no harm of me." He saw the grey eyes lift quickly, and gave a faint laugh. "Oh, make no mistake! I am all the villain you think of me. She saved herself."
"You interest me," said Rule, moving towards a chair, and sitting down on the arm of it. "I have always thought her a lady of infinite resource."
"Resource," murmured Lethbridge. "Yes, decidedly. She used a poker."
Also, when Rule's icky cousin comes to tell on Horry and Rule chokes his cousin with "blazing grey eyes" is pure awesome. And Rule just choking his icky cousin is awesome.
I loved the switcheroo with the masks at the ball, that Rule was so quick on his feet that he could arrange it with a moment's notice. And that he'd pushed Lethbridge into the pond to get rid of him. And that his mistress betrays herself and gets kicked to the curb because of it.
Possibly the single sweetest scene is when Rule tells Horry that while he'd gotten the whole story from Lethbridge, he didn't need anyone's word to know Horry had been forced to go to Lethbridge's house that night, and two big tears fall from Horry's eyes. She'd been so afraid that Rule wouldn't believe her after all the trouble she'd gotten into! ♥
The only thing that I don't care for is how these people dressed. I just don't like Georgian era dress (except for the fake beauty marks thing, I totally approve of that), so in my head I dressed them in much more pleasing historical costumes. XD;
I so need more. MORE! Are there other very good Regency romance novelists? Please let me know! I need to overdose on happy silly stuff right now and these books have been just the thing.