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on 16 October 2001
A delightful Heyer romance, this time with two female protagonists. We follow the parallel stories of young Cherry Steane, a runaway, and "spinster" Henrietta Silverdale, who inadvertently rescues Cherry. The contrast between the two is enjoyable; the older, wiser, and more worldly Henrietta, daughter of a baronet, and the young, fanciful Cherry, still very unaware of Society's rules and how easily they can ruin her.
Cherry is "rescued" from her unhappy home by the Viscount Desford, who was once engaged to Henrietta. He enlists Henrietta's help, and as the the two spend more time together, and with the appearance of several other suitors, we are unclear as to where romance will develop! This book almost has a "whodunnit" feel, as the mystery is in which characters will end up together!
There is much humour as Henrietta tries to steer Cherry away from mistakes and social ruin. Both characters are likeable, and the interplay of other characters around them keeps the book lively.
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I first read this book when it was originally published and was not keen on it but as I am gradually re-reading Georgette Heyer's novels I decided to give it another try. This time I did enjoy it - seeing things I'd missed first time round or perhaps not appreciated. Charity Steane - normally known as Cherry - has been taken in by her aunt and turned into a sort of unpaid servant.

Think Fanny Price in Mansfield Park without the indolent Lady Bertram or the protective Edmund to look after her. Cherry eventually decides to run away and is offered a lift to London by Viscount Desford so that she can throw herself on her grandfather's mercy.

But things don't go to plan and Cherry's grandfather is not at home. Desford takes Cherry to stay with his long time friend Henrietta Silverdale to avoid compromising her by having her stay at his own house. What follows is a catalogue of errors and misunderstandings. Cherry's long lost father Wilfred reappears and scents an opportunity for blackmail.

This is perhaps not Georgette Heyer's best Regency romance but it is entertaining with some marvellous characters and some marvellously horrible ones as well such as Lady Bugle - Cherry's aunt - and her father. I think Wilfred Steane is possibly one of the most obnoxious characters Heyer ever created and he certainly takes the prize for slimy-ness; worth reading but not my favourite book.
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The mistake when reading Georgette Heyer is to expect something new every time. The joy is in the comfort of pretty much the same story told expertly and with great good humour in every novel, and this is no exception. On a cold, wet day this is just the ticket with tea and biscuits, the novel form of comfort food.

Lord Desford finds a runaway girl on his way to London and saves her from disgrace. He takes her to live with his friend, Hetta and promptly goes off in search of the girl's relatives to restore her honour and dignity. The story unfolds in three strands, Desford's quest and both his and the young girl's love life.

It is silly, frivolous, full of pot holes, wildly unbelievable and utterly, utterly charming. I just can't resist them.
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on 29 May 2013
Georgette Heyer wrote many novels better than this, but it still contains more wit than anything published by any other author in the past twenty or thirty years. Men tend to avoid Heyer's books because they think they're only about romance, but nothing could be further from the truth. The period details is excellent - the research is superb (Heyer's 'An Infamous Army' is the best novel about the Battle of Waterloo that there is and, yes, of course I've read Vanity Fair). The occasional abuse of the present participle niggles (Miss Heyer confuses it with the simple past, much like BBC presenters today), but otherwise her use of language is very good. Give it go, guys. You'll be surprised.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 August 2014
I've been reading Georgette Heyer's books for a couple of weeks since so many are available on Kindle Unlimited. I must say that "Charity Girl" is my least favorite so far. Not because the writing isn't great relative to technique or even the foundation of the story. In fact, the storyline type is one of my favorites. Sweet Young Miss, down on her luck - Mr. Fantastic Rescuer comes along, in his role of White Knight on his White Charger - the reader has only to enjoy the details.

Except...

Yes, there is a young Cinderella type - Miss Charity Steane - who currently has a life as a drudge in her relatives' home. Her father basically deserted her years ago leaving her in a young women's school and finally, he quit paying, she was turned out, she had no options except to live with some "less-than-nice" relatives. Since that time, she has been used - thankfully, not abused, but mistreated nonetheless.

Entering into her life via a brief conversation at a country ball where she is peeking into the ballroom from her spot on the stairs is the handsome, man about town, Viscount Desford. She's adorable, albeit wearing hand-me-down poorly fitted clothing (sure sign of the Cinderella syndrome going on here), he realizes she's not being treated especially well, but such is the life of many poor female relations. However, Desford can't get her out of his mind, and as he is leaving his aunt's home and returning to London, who does he see walking by the side of the road? Oh yep - bet you've figured it out - our dear little Charity - or "Cherry" as she prefers to be called, since "Charity" paints too close a picture of her sad life. She's had enough of her horrible relatives, she's off to London - walking all the way - to try and locate a grandfather she has never met and who disowned her wastrel father a few years back. Of course Des stops and cajoles her into getting into his curricle so he can do the Prince Charming thingy.

Again, the reader is sucked into thinking, the big, marvy, rich hero and the sweet, little, sad, heroine with the big eyes will have a romance to rival that of Cinderella and her Prince. Well, let me tell you a thing or two about Ms. Heyer's stories. "Never" - may I repeat - "Never" count on what you have reason to believe is the O.B.V.I.O.U.S. actually taking place. No, nada, nil - for indeed, there is another female in play here. Her name is Henrietta (Hetta) and it seems that several years back, Desford and Hetta were supposedly expected to marry - at least that was the way the parents thought it would all play out. "No," said Desford - "Hetta and I are friends, nothing more." And, indeed they are very close friends - to the point, he thinks to stow little Charity, or Cherry - whatever you prefer, with Dear Hetta while he attempts to track down Charity's grandfather so that Charity will have what is due her from the head of her family.

But... Grandpa is not such an easy person to run down. This is the part I. Did. Not. Enjoy. Desford runs about all over England for approximately 3 weeks - or in reader time, rather page time - what seems to be about one half of the doggone book, while we struggle through page after page, hoping against hope that some romance will eventually show up in this story. We figure out very early on that Sweet Charity - that's what I've decided to call her, is somewhat of a Bubblehead. Not nice for me to describe her such - that I know, but she is not in any way, shape, form or fashion, a deep thinker. She is a darling, but "One" has belatedly come to the obvious conclusion that Charity. Will. Not. Be. The. One. to make dear old Des's heart go pitter patter. So... since there's only one other eligible female in the storyline, hmm... we begin to realize that dear old Hetta just might be back in play - perhaps.

During the years since Des said "No, Hetta and I are only friends," Hetta has found a few gents who are apparently interested as in, they think she's a rockin' lady. But, here's where "One" becomes a little frustrated that Desford has the unmitigated gall to think none are good enough for his good friend, Hetta - especially in light of the sorry fact Mr. Viscount Prince Charming Des has spent the past few years with numerous barques of frailty, has also held not-so-respectable happenings at his Arlington address, etcetera! etcetera! while Hetta has remained on the old home farm serving in the role of good and responsible daughter to her hypochondriac mama.

Here I shall state unequivocally: "One" (that would be me, in case you're interested) is not so happy that Hetta would give old Des the break that Ms. Heyer seems to think might make "One"(me, again) pleased with this part of the story. At any rate, Desford's younger brother, Simon, steals the show in the last few pages of the book. He was over the top, off the hook. I would so enjoy reading a full book about Simon. In short, although I loved Des for everything he was willing to do for Sweet Charity, he deserved to have been left at the gate when it came to Hetta - but, apparently, that didn't matter to the brain and creativity that belonged to the awesome Ms. Georgette Heyer - therefore, in the end, it mattered not what "One" thought.
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on 16 February 2002
I think this may be one of GH's earlier works: the characters are not as rounded and the stoty not as satisfying as we have come to expect. Still, it is a different take on the usual romance: the two principles feel rather diffident about each other and the misunderstandings that arise when Desford tries to help a pretty girl don't exactly smooth the path to true love. Of-course it all ends happily as the trials they endure allow Henrietta to express her real feelings and give Desford the opportunity to show a more dashing side to his hitherto rather dull character. Worth reading if you are a fan, but not the best book to sample Heyer's writing.
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on 7 October 2009
I can read Georgette Heyer all day and this is one of my favourites. Her use of language and details of the era are wonderful and I can lose myself in her histories. A very entertaining read
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on 16 August 2015
Another cracking story from Georgette Hayer,this time we get a quick peak at the life of a gentel young lady who has not money. She is left at the mercy of her relatives. Neither servant nor yet accepted in to,the family. I love the conversational interchange between the many characters in the book. The book swings along from Harrogate to London and other places. You also see how harsh their society was on people who did not do as the family required.
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on 15 March 2013
For her fans Georgette Heyer never fails. This is just the sort of book to take into hospital - which I did - since it took my mind off the hospital and transported me back to where men are handsome and women always beautiful and the heroine gets her man after the usual bumpy course of true love! No sex, no bad language, just beautifully written English!
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on 19 April 2011
havent not read one of her romantic novels in quite a while it was a pleasant return to her story telling. interesting characters and a quirky story although sometimes the regency language did get a bit tiresome but didnt stop my enjoyment of the story which held me attention right to the last page where i was totally surprised at the ending!!!!
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