January 5, 2017

My Year of Georgette Heyer | Book the First: The Convenient Marriage

This is not a drill. I repeat, THIS IS NOT A DRILL. I believe I am, in fact, upon the brink of accomplishing something that I have been meaning to do for years. I want you all to be the first to know that I just read my first very Georgette Heyer. That's right. I actually did it. After years of promising myself and countless others (many of you) that I would do it, I finally managed it! And I can tell that I'm about to dive headlong into a full-fledged binge.

After consulting all of your past comments on which Heyers are your favorites and why (and after some serious counsel from Beth and a well-timed trip to our local Barnes & Noble), I chose to start with The Convenient Marriage. I had no idea it would turn out to contain, without question, one of my favorite proposal scenes ever. The kind of proposal scene that makes you feel like nothing could ever go wrong after it. It takes place very early on, and it made me laugh and sigh repeatedly with delight. I know I will be yanking out my copy to reread that scene for years to come.
"It's v-vulgar to care about Settlements, but you are very rich, are you not?"

"Very," said his lordship, preserving his calm.

"Yes," nodded Horatia. "W-well—you see!"

"I see," agreed Rule. "You are going to be the Sacrifice."

She looked up at him rather shyly. "It c-can't signify to you, can it? Except that I know I'm not a Beauty, like L-Lizzie. But I have got the Nose, sir."

Rule surveyed the Nose. "Undoubtedly, you have the Nose," he said.

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 g-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 n-noticed that I have a—a stammer."

"Yes, I had noticed," the Earl said gently.

"If you f-feel you c-can't bear it, sir, I shall quite understand," Horatia said in a small, anxious voice.

"I like it," said the Earl.

"It is very odd of you," marvelled Horatia. "But p-perhaps you said that to p-put me at my ease?"

"No," said the Earl. "I said it because it was true."
Which is not to say that the entire experience was perfectly smooth sailing. Horatia is a bit hysterical for my taste. Or rather, she starts off very promising indeed and then proceeds to be rather hysterical for the next couple hundred pages. And, yes, I grew impatient. And yes, I really would have loved it if she'd managed to see one single thing for what it was without Rule having to patiently explain it to her. But Rule. You guys. Rule. I loved him from beginning to end. He gives the impression that he is always withholding a smile when he is at his most decorous and that when he is smiling placidly at you is when you are actually in the most danger. Rule will always be dear to me. As will drunk Pel & Pom, roving the streets of London at the crack of dawn, trying to discern whether or not Horatia actually murdered someone with a poker. I'm still filled with helpless laughter when I think of those two, to say nothing of Pom's great aunt.
Glamour might still have clung to a rakehell who abducted noble damsels, but no glamour remained about a man who had been pushed into a pond in full ball-dress. 
The Convenient Marriage also includes two excellent duels, one hilarious and quite brief, the other magnetic and drawn-out. And, yes, I could definitely have done with a handful more scenes in which Rule and Horatia were, say, in the same room together (particularly at the end). But, on the whole, my time spent with these characters was utterly entertaining, and I will be cracking open my second Heyer tonight.

And in honor of this being the year I (finally) discovered Georgette Heyer, I thought I'd run a series here on the blog, updating you on my progress back through her body of work throughout the year. Are you in? I'm looking forward to it!

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