Top critical review
Not Exactly A Cinderella Story
on 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.
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.