As I’ve mentioned before, Georgette Heyer wrote a lot of books. So far I’ve enjoyed her Regency novels much more than her mysteries, but that doesn’t narrow the scope by much — it still leaves me with 38 books from which to choose.
Fortunately a couple of my readers are just as in love with Heyer as I am, and have given me a short list of some of their favorites. My most recent selection was The Corinthian.
Two unhappy lives cross
Sir Richard Wyndham is in a tight spot: he’s almost 30, and has yet to offer for Melissa Brandon’s hand, even though they’ve been “practically promised” for several years. In fact, Sir Richard has never indicated his inclination to marry anyone, and it is only after a family intervention that he reluctantly takes up the mantle of responsibility and proposes to Melissa. And then promptly goes to Almack’s and gets schnockered.
On his way home, he spies a boy climbing out of the window of a large house, apparently in the process of robbery. When the robber turns out to be Penelope Creed, a 17 year-old escaping from the clutches of an unwanted marriage, Richard—due either to inebriation or recognizing that his situation is the same as hers—decides to accompany Penelope on her flight to freedom.
And so, masquerading as teacher and pupil (with Penelope disguised as a young man), the pair embarks on what they thought would be a simple journey, but instead ends up being rife with adventure, including murder.
Another home run
I really enjoyed this book (not like I was expecting not to), and it’s par for the course for Heyer: disguises, sparkling dialogue, witty repartee, close calls, near misses, fainting spells, mistaken identities, attempted bribery, elopements, and unexpected situations of all kinds.
One of the best parts of The Corinthian was seeing the relationship between Sir Richard and Penelope change throughout the story. Penelope is much younger than Richard, and acts even younger. She’s headstrong and naive, and Richard alternately laments over and pokes fun at her for it. They really were each miserable, unhappy with where they saw their lives taking them. But the closer toward discovery and disaster they become, the more they must work together and trust each other. I loved seeing Penelope’s naivete vanish in the wake of (marginal) maturity, and Richard is very much softened by Penelope’s sense of adventure and humor.
And the final page? Fantastic.
Despite my love for this book, I love The Grand Sophy and The Masqueraders just a bit more. What’s your favorite?