on 1 November 2011
The abridged version of this brilliant book, one of Heyer's best, loses a lot of the story's panache and vivacity. Some picturesque characters and their story lines are virtually omitted altogether. What a shame. I was really disappointed.
Sophy Stanton-Lacey is staying with her aunt and uncle - Lord and Lady Ombersley - at their house in Berkeley Square. Sophy horrifies and delights them by arriving accompanied by a horse, Salamanca, a parrot and a monkey, not to speak of her greyhound, Tina. The parrot and the monkey are for the children of the household. It is a household in a sorry state.
Charles, the oldest son, is betrothed to a lady who seems lacking in the slightest sense of humour; Cecilia has fallen in love with an impoverished poet and Hubert, a younger son, is deep in debt. Sophy vows to sort everyone out and find a husband for herself as well.
Full of amusing incidents and fascinating characters this is one of Georgette Heyer's liveliest Regency romances and one of the most delightful. It is interesting to see the effect the energetic Sophy has on the rather depressed household especially when she decides to organise a ball for four hundred guests without her hostess knowing exactly how many people are coming.
This is one of my favourite novels probably because nothing defeats the redoubtable Sophy. I love the humour and the way the characters interact especially the way the apparently stuffy Charles soon starts to reveal a much lighter side to his character. If you haven't tried Georgette Heyer before then this would be an excellent place to start.
on 13 August 2014
I do believe this is my favorite of all Georgette Heyer's books in the regency romance genre. Sophy has had a very unique upbringing having tagged along with her father in his role of diplomat to various countries on the Continent including traveling with the army. As such, she has encountered life in its many forms and this has enabled her "managing" personality" to understand why and how different folks need her help.
When her father, Sir Horace, decides it is past time for Sophy to be introduced to a London Season, he travels to England to enlist the aid of his sister, Lady Ombersley, in order to have Sophy presented and to hopefully obtain a husband. Lady Ombersley has several of her own children to tend, a husband who thinks of little else besides his own entertainment, a younger son who is in the suds for gaming, a daughter who is in love with a frivolous poet, an older son, Charles, who has had no other choice but to take over the management and the purse strings of the family and who has had to be the "adult" to say "no" to anything frivolous and endeavor to keep his siblings out of their various follies. Needless to say, Lady Ombersley is in over her head trying to keep peace among her own family.
But... help is soon to arrive in the persona of the "Grand Sophy" and she is indeed grand. From the moment, she arrives on the scene, she takes over everyone's life without actually stepping on anyone's toes - well, except for the staid Charles' toes, that is. Sophy is one of the most fascinating heroines in this genre. She has wisdom, tact, honor and she can stand head to head and toe to toe with the tyrannical Charles. When she realizes he is engaged to a strait-laced, tattle tale, young woman, she eventually decides she must stick her nose into his affairs even while she is sorting out the rest of the family.
Lovely book, lovely romance. This is the best of the rest!
It's been some years since I last read a Georgette Heyer, and I decided I really ought to pull them all out from the bookshelves and read all the ones I have again. They really are great books, and Heyer's writing is witty, sharp and incisive. Although these are quite categorically `Regency Romances', there is nothing soppy or wishy washy about Heyer's characters and her writing brings a sharpness of observation to all her stories.
This story is about Sophia, daughter of Sir Horace Stanton-Lacy, who, on her father's call to overseas business, is left with her aunt Lady Ombersley, and Lady Ombersley's family. Sophy, as she prefers to be called, has had a fairly `bohemian' upbringing by Regency standards, and is a bit of a shock to Lady Ombersley's system. But it's not long before Sophy is involved reticule-deep in the affairs of all the family members and goes about sorting them out in her own unique way.
Funny, witty, sharp, elegantly phrased, perfectly timed, Georgette Heyer's writing quite appropriately lives on after her death. This is one of her books which I can wholeheartedly recommend. I look forward to renewing my acquaintance with the others I have piled on the bookshelves. Great fun.
on 18 November 2005
Perhaps one of the most delightful of Ms. Heyer’s Regncy Romances, The Grand Sophy is a treat from beginning to end.
If Mr. Charles Rivenhall could have foreseen the havoc his cousin Sophia (Sophy to friends) would wreck in his life he would never have allowed his mother to invite her for a visit. Or would he?
For Sophy is as irresistible as she is incorrigible. From the moment she steps into this sombre household she sees that they are all sadly in need of her help. Beautiful Cecilia is pining away in her love for a poet; poor Herbert is in the clutches of a moneylender and Charles himself is betrothed to the most depressing female imaginable. But Sophy is nothing if not resourceful. With wit and charm as her only weapons, she sets out to sort out the family’s problems, and in the process finds her true love as well.
Heyer’s brilliant wit and intelligent humour make her work stand head and shoulders above the rest. Avoiding the usual clichés of this genre, she endows her heroines with as much brain as beauty and an independence of spirit that makes them so much fun to read about.
If you feel romance novels should be explicitly passionate, Heyer may not be for you. But if a comedy of manners, with engaging characters, hilarious dialogue and between-the-lines romance is your cup of tea, The Grand Sophy is just the book for you
The story of an unusually self-possessed young lady, who spent her childhood following her widowed diplomat father around the globe, sent to stay with her aunt's family to make her come-out is my all-time favourite Georgette Heyer novel.
No one is prepared for a young woman with quite so much self-command and organisational zeal as Miss Stanton-Lacy. Least of all, her rather disapproving older cousin.
This isn't one of Heyer's `bigger' plots. There's no major historical event impacting directly upon the plot and characters (as, e.g. 'An Infamous Army'), nor any particularly large-scale drama. Instead, this is a more private, family-centred novel that relies more upon a delicious blend of character and wit combined with Heyer's impeccable understanding of the language and mores of her chosen time period.
There's plenty of well-paced humour (often at the expense of pompous beaux, condescending fiancées, and a rather splendidly idle Spanish lady), but the pivotal character is our unconventional yet always likeable heroine, who contrives to rescue her family from the consequences of their various errors in judgment. Miss Stanton-Lacy is certainly not afraid of using highly unorthodox methods to achieve her ends.
The Grand Sophy indeed!
on 24 July 2009
First published in 1950, The Grand Sophy contains one of Georgette Heyer's most endearingly outrageous heroines. In this newly released reissue by Sourcebooks, you are in for a rollicking good time through Regency era London with Miss Sophia Stanton-Lacy. As one of her many male admirers proclaims, "By all that is wonderful, it's the Grand Sophy!" Too true.
A diplomat's daughter, Sophy has traveled the Continent with her widowed father Sir Horace Stanton-Lacy following the British army in their pursuit of Napoleon during the Peninsular War. Two years have passed since the Monster of Elba was finally defeated and Sir Horace's duties now take him abroad to South America. He feels it is time for Sophy to marry, and who better than to present his motherless daughter to London society than his amiable sister, Lady Ombersley. But, will her eldest son Charles approve? Things in her dysfunctional family are so oddly arranged. Her indifferent husband Bernard Rivenhall, Lord Ombersley has run through his fortune, and now relies on his eldest son Charles, who inherited another estate, to pay his debts and finance his household. Charles, known for his ill temper and tight pocketbook, is engaged to equally priggish young woman, Miss Eugenia Wraxton, whose rigid grasp on social stricture is at odds with everyone who she deigns to look down her very long equine nose at. Lady Ombersley's beautiful young daughter Cecilia should marry the very eligible and wealthy Lord Charlbury, but prefers instead the handsome poet Augustus Fawnhope whose odds at fame and fortune are slim as his picking a Derby winner. Her second son Hurbert, whose moods sway with the tides of his debt, is ensconced with dubious money-lenders and in need of extraction. They all live a dull life according to Charles's autocratic commands. If ever there was a family in need of a make-over, the Rivenhall's present a tall bill.
Enter The Grand Sophy. Quick, intelligent and exuberantly capable, twenty-year old Sophy is a bracing reveille to her cousin's the Rivenhall's staid existence at Berkeley Square. From the moment she arrives on her aunt's doorstep elegantly attired with her entourage of a dog, a horse, a monkey, a parrot, a groom, a maid and a mountain of luggage, they are left with no uncertainty that this is no ordinary young lady. Outspoken and unafraid to stretch the edge of decorum, Miss Stanton-Lacy sizes up the household's problems and sets about to make them right, much to the chagrin of her cousin Charles and his meddlesome fiancée Miss Wraxton, who thinks she's a hoyden. Sophy is fearless in the face of propriety venturing beyond the constraints of the Regency women's world visiting banks, buying horses, a Phaeton carriage, and planning and paying for her coming out Ball, all the while pushing her cousin Charles' buttons at every turn. Their repartees are absolutely hilarious - Sophy almost always in command of the final outcome - and Charles not knowing what hit him. Life as the Rivenhall's had known it has been quite undone. Along the way, Sophy has a great deal of fun, and so do we.
'Life at Berkeley Square had become all at once full of fun and excitement. Even Lord Ombersley was aware of it. "By God, I don't know what's come over you all, for the place was used to be as lively as a tomb!"'
Visiting Regency London is always a treat through Georgette Heyer's astute eye. Her historical references are quite amazing. The descriptions of clothing, fabrics and furnishing were sumptuous. Her attention to the details of Regency carriages and horsemanship, was spot on. The plot kept me turning pages quickly, eager to see what Sophy's next antic would be, and which couples would be together by the conclusion of the novel. Through Sophy's exuberant personality we meet a heroine whose qualities of self assurance, conviction and zest for life are infectious. I had to laugh out loud when even the stuffy Rivenhall butler Dassett acknowledged that Sophy is a gem.
"I venture to say, she is a lady as knows precisely how things should be done. A great pleasure, if I may be pardoned the liberty, to work for Miss Sophy, for she thinks of everything, and I fancy there will be no hitch to mar the festivities."
Yes, The Grand Sophy knows precisely how things should be done, and I would not have it any other way. This was by far my most enjoyable read this year. Fun, engaging and hilarious, I can not recommend it more highly. Sophy is a devilishly fine girl.
Laurel Ann, Austenprose
on 4 June 2012
Very disappointing. The book has lost all of its character. Whoever decided to approve this version does not understand heyer
on 2 May 2011
After reading Laurel Ann's review there can only be left the addition of some hilarious quotes from this lovely book.
She laughed. 'Oh, that is too bad of you, Sir Vincent! I don't create disturbances: you know I don't!'
'I know nothing of the kind, my child. When last I saw you, you were engaged in arranging in the most ruthless fashion the affairs of the most bewildered family of Belgians I have yet encountered. They had all my sympathy, but there was nothing I could do to help them: I know my limitations.'
'Those poor Le Bruns! Well, but SOMEONE had to help them out of such a tangle!'
'And Charles Rivenhall is therefore your cousin. (...) Almost my heart goes out to the family. Do they tread blindly towards their doom, Sophy, or did they willingly receive a firebrand into their midst?'
She gave a chuckle. 'They tread blindly - but I am NOT a firebrand!'
'No, I used the wrong word. You are like poor Whinyates's rockets: no one knows what you will do next!'
He said stiffly: 'Since you have brought up Miss Wraxton's (his fiancée) name, I shall be much obliged to you, cousin, if you will refrain from telling my sisters that she has a face like a horse!'
'But, Charles, no blame attaches to Miss Wraxton! She cannot help it, and that, I ASSURE you, I have always pointed out to your sisters!'
'I consider Miss Wraxton's countenance particularly well-bred!'
'Yes, indeed, but you have quite misunderstood the matter! I MEANT a particularly well-bred horse!'
'You meant, as I am perfectly aware, to belittle Miss Wraxton!'
'No, no! I am very fond of horses!' Sophy said earnestly.
He burst out laughing. 'Major Quinton spoke nothing but the truth about you!' he declared. 'I am already terrified of you!'
She smiled, but said: 'Well, you need not be, for I mean to help you.'
'That is what terrifies me.'
'Do you know,' he said seriously, 'you are the most startling female it has ever been my fortune to meet? You will observe that I do not say good or ill fortune, for I haven't the smallest notion which it will prove to be!'
Sophy arrives in her aunt and uncles house which seems to have stopped living. Everyone is sad and melancholy. money is an issue but it is not to be talked about and love seems to be a practical move forward and not an emotion. Now that Sophy has arrived everything is about to change and the house is going to be thrown into complete disarray.
She arrives with a menagerie in tow, a thoroughbred horse which she can handle as well as any man, a monkey for her younger cousins, a faithful dog and a noisy parrot. This arrival causes upset for her cousin Charles who has had to take upon the running of the house and the family, and has appearing to have aged years before he needs to. His intended is a rather sour faced individual who cannot find good in anything and is intent on ensuring Charles is fully aware of the actions of this new house guest.
But for her other cousin, Cecilia it is someone who she can share her innermost thoughts with. Her love for a poet has thwarted her mother and brothers plans of being able to survive in the future. Her intended betrothed still seems quite interested and is taken with Sophy when he encounters her in the park. Sophy has plenty of schemes to bring about the right conclusion and show that perhaps airy poets are not the way to have a long and successful marriage.
Even the male cousins seek solace with Sophy, when Hubert finding himself in a pickle rather like his fathers; gambling seems to be a family trait turns to Sophy who does something most inappropriate and puts her life at risk and even more so her honour.
Sophy is a girl who is before her time. You can imagine such a strong willed and devilish woman in a contemporary novel, but this is a novel of the Regency period. If born some 75 years later she would have made an excellent suffragette. She is just what the household needed to show them what life could really be like. This is a romantic novel I suppose but it is full of wit and humour that actually the romance takes a back seat on many occasion until near the end when Sophy's meddling comes to its natural conclusion. It is if she was meant to enter that house and to cause the problems that she did.
Sophy is the main character and she is surrounded by well drawn secondary characters, full of their own self importance like Charles, whims and fancies such as Cecilia and her poet, as well as the rather detestable Eugenia who seems to have a permanent smell under her nose and even the rather mysterious Sancia, the Spaniard who sleeps more than is awake and is betrothed to become Sophy's new step mama. Plenty of people to like and dislike in equal measure and to laugh and cry with too.
This is my first Georgette Heyer novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it, in fact it was a grand novel! I can see me reading it again in the future.