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VINE VOICEon 19 June 2010
This is only the second Georgette Heyer book I've read and it was very different to my first, The Talisman Ring, in setting, language and plot. The Masqueraders is set just after the Jacobite Rising of 1745 and follows the adventures of Prudence and her brother Robin. Along with their father (referred to by his children as 'the old gentleman') Robin had been involved in the failed Jacobite rebellion and is now in danger of being hanged. To prevent him being captured, the brother and sister have created new roles for themselves - Robin has disguised himself as the beautiful 'Miss Merriot' and Prudence has become the handsome young 'Peter'. All very Shakespearean! Not surprisingly, this leads to a number of misunderstandings and narrow escapes.

Things get even more interesting when Prudence, still posing as Peter Merriot, begins to fall in love with Sir Anthony Fanshawe - and then 'the old gentleman' arrives on the scene, claiming to be the lost heir to the Barham fortune.

I found the story confusing and difficult to follow at first. I spent several chapters trying to work out exactly why Prudence and Robin had found it necessary to masquerade as people of the opposite sex and what they were hoping to achieve. It also took me a while to get used to the Georgian-style dialogue, with all the egads, alacks and other slang terms of the period.

After a few chapters, however, various parts of the story started to fall into place and then I had no problem understanding what was happening. I ended up really enjoying this book. There were many things that made this book such a success for me. I thought the Georgian setting, with its powdered wigs, card games, sword fights and duels, was perfectly portrayed. The plot was full of twists and turns that kept my interest right to the end. And I loved the characters. The calm and cool-headed Prudence was the perfect balance for the more impetuous Robin - and both were fun and likeable. Watching Prudence's relationship with Sir Anthony develop was one of my highlights of the book. Robin's romance with Letty Grayson, who knew him only as a masked man known as the Black Domino, was equally well written.

Most of all, I loved the 'old gentleman'. He was conceited, arrogant and a scheming rogue - but he was also hilarious and capable of coming up with such ingenious schemes that maybe his arrogance was justified.

Having enjoyed both of the Georgette Heyer books I've read so far, I think I'm starting to become a fan and will definitely look out for more of her books!
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Heyer's romance fiction is known for its lightness of touch and quick witted dialogue. This novel, in which brother and sister Prudence and Robin get embroiled in deceit and a kind of complex Shakespearean role play, suffers in the first instance because this normal lightness is missing.

It takes a while for this book to get into its stride. The plot is ambiguous and you have to persevere before all becomes clear. It also seems to be set at a slightly earlier period than most of her romance novels and the language is a little torturous until you catch its rhythms and cadence.

It is however worth persevering with. Heyer's characters are always finely drawn and delightful to get to know. Her sharp wit and eye for detail are showcased beautifully in this convoluted tale of switched identities, highway robbery and Jacobite rebellion. There is, naturally a healthy dose of romance to leaven the mix. Here readers get two for the price of one, following the complex patterns of both the brother and sister's romantic entanglements.
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on 26 July 2001
Anyone lumping Georgette Heyer with the baby-pink-jacketed paperbacks crowding the Romance shelves is missing the point. This is P.G. Wodehouse (for the comic timing) meeting Jane Austen (for the subtle analysis of character.) Heyer's historical research is impeccable, whether in this novel, about the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellion in the 18th century, or, in a book like "An Infamous Army", about the Battle of Waterloo. Add to this an irrepressible sense of humour and a sure talent to recreate a period faultlessly (Heyer kept a linguistic historian's notebooks of period expressions and turns of phrases, her biographer Jane Aiken Hodge tells us) and you understand why Georgette Heyer's books have never been out of print. "The Masqueraders" is one of her earlier novels, more dashing and romantic than the later, wryer and more sardonic Regency stories which made her name. Yet it contains great one-liners (usually in the mouth of Lord Tremaine, Robin's and Prudence's adventurer father) and Heyer manages to make us believe in this entertaining masquerade of the siblings posing each as a member of the opposite sex. There are wonderful shades of Mozart's Da Ponte operas: very true to the period indeed. Strongly recommended.
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on 11 September 2005
This is one of the last Georgette Heyer novels that I got round to reading - it seemed hard to get hold of at local libraries. Having now read it, I can't understand why it is not more popular as I believe it's one of Heyer's better books. Although in some ways it bears similarity to Powder & Patch in terms of language (and I wasn't too keen on that book), the plot is far more enjoyable and twisted.
It helps to know that the two characters we meet at the beginning, Mr Peter Merriott and Miss Kate Merriott, are actually sister and brother in disguise. "Peter" is actually Miss Prudence and her brother, who was involved in the Jacobite rebellion and is therefore in some danger, disguises himself as a woman. Heyer gives us a few clues as to how this is successful - Robin (the brother) is unusually short for a man, it's the era when women painted their faces, he wears tight corsets, but overall this is a slight weakness in the plot, as is the thought that a woman dressed in man's clothes would pass for a man over a period of several weeks. One just glosses over it, however, and enjoys the fun of the masquerade as Prudence, dressed up as Peter Merriott, gets involved in London society and visits Gentlemen's clubs, challenges a man to a duel and finds herself in love with a very tall man who has befriended her - as Peter. Her brother Robin also falls in love with a young lady he rescued and it's the tortuous ways in which the young couple perform their masquerade which adds to the fun. Their father appears who is the mastermind behind their plans, and claims that he is a Viscount; there is much humour in the scenes with him as he is such an egocentric character.
The highlight of the book for me is the interaction between Prudence, disguised as Mr Peter Merriott, and Sir Anthony Fanshawe, with whom she falls in love. These two characters are well-portrayed and come across as well-suited when the final unmasking takes place.
I heartily recommend this book for a great fun read with interesting characters set in a fascinating period of English history.
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on 7 August 2012
I have always thought this was one of Georgette Heyers better books it doesn't get bogged down like some of the others and as for not being believable isn't escapism rather the point. I've just reread it again and found it even better after a few years. I have always thought that Georgette Heyer should be filmed as much as Austen (and some of her heroes are much better) this would be excellent christmas viewing if it were cast so as not to upset Heyers fans !!! as would the Grand Sophy. Too many people dismiss Heyer as just a 'romance' writer when in fact i would put her up there with Austen and some of her detective novels would easily rank with Christie and Sayers.
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on 7 March 2003
Anyone who loves Shakespeare's Viola (and who thinks Shakespeare didn't give her enough to do in Twelfth Night) will enjoy Georgette Heyer's heroine Prudence. Pru has a similarly phlegmatic temperament, wit and charm. Heyer seems to have simply lifted Viola out of the play, given her another, equally subtle name, and given her a more active adventure. Fine by me.
Of all the cross-dressing comedies I've read (or seen on stage), this is the most convincing. Perhaps it's because Prudence lacks the overtone of panic that most cross-dressed heroines (or the actresses who play them) display: she performs her masquerade calmly. Her self-confidence results from experience, her bravery is not impulsive.
In this gender-bending comedy, it's clear that the genders are not so far apart (and, like Prudence, Ms. Heyer seems perfectly comfortable with the idea). Gender--for the characters who do not cross-dress, as well as those who do--seems to be a performance, involving much artifice & costume. The characters perform for each other's benefit--and clearly relish the chance.
In this early novel, it seems to me that Miss Heyer was writing for her own entertainment. The story rockets from urbane drawing-room comedy to goofy melodrama to galloping action. It is often uneven...but its unevenness invites the reader to do as Ms. Heyer did: if you aren't satisfied with the story she gave the characters, lift 'em out and write one of your own.
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on 20 February 2006
This is such a great book - the ultimate romantic, swashbuckling, identity swapping fantasy. It just gets better and better as you read it. The fact that it's all completely implausible makes even more enjoyable. Suspend your disbelief and dive in to some extreme escapism!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 August 2014
However, once I became engaged, I began to enjoy the story, while kinda enduring the manner in which the characters spoke. I loved the "mountain" - Sir Anthony Fanshawe. He was not the bug dumb guy that he was initially thought to be. In fact, he was very astute as he proved time and time again.

I enjoy stories where the heroine is masquerading as a man - not so much when a man is masquerading as a women, especially when the disguise lasts for pretty much the entire book. In this book, Prudence Tremaine masqueraded very successfully as a gentleman, while her brother, Robin, was disguised as a woman while awaiting their "mastermind" to arrive in England. This masquerade was necessary in order to protect Robin because of his involvement with the Jacobite Rebellion.

Finally, Papa arrives and Wow! does he make a huge splash in society. Papa is brilliant, Prudence and Robin are attentive and very soon, plans are underway to help resolve all the tight spots everyone has managed to get themselves into. But, nobody quite figured on Anthony Fanshawe's ability to unravel who everyone was.

In the end, I totally enjoyed the book. Robin, although small in stature, had a giant heart. I would have enjoyed seeing the "female" side of Prudence more fully developed. Although we knew from the outset she was indeed a female, we had barely a hint of her feminine side since she was always disguised as a male and interacting with males as a male. But everyone had their grand HEA and that was fun - seeing how they contrived and arrived to this happy place.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 October 2011
I love Georgette Heyer but this isn't one of my favourites. Set just after the defeat of the Jacobites, it's built around the comedy premise of cross-dressing so that Prue appears in society as Peter Merriot, and her brother, Robin, more improbably perhaps, as Kate Merriot (this is in the backcover blurb so isn't a spoiler). Both siblings, of course, fall in love, hampered by their disguises and their rogueish father with his political vulnerabilities and his Machiavellian plots.

This is very funny at times, but I also found it a little plodding at others. Anthony Fanshawe, is not one of Heyer's great heroes, and I didn't find Robin and Prue as charming as some other protagonists. And while I completely `believe' the cross-dressing and disguises in Twelfth Night and other Renaissance plays, I was never quite able to swallow it here.

So this has all Heyer's trademarks of elegant writing, romantic plots and wit, it simply didn't work as well for me as some of her other books.
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VINE VOICEon 18 February 2013
Now this is a romp and a half that should have been made into a film or Tv series years ago! Prudence and Robin have swapped gender roles in order to escape being caught as Jacobites and, despite trying to keep a low profile, are sucked into the social whirl of London society.

That wouldn't be too bad if they hadn't met people to whom they are attracted, but can't tell them because they appear to be the wrong sex! When their father turns up posing as a long-lost aristocrat it seems that things will become even more complicated.

Full of duels, abductions, trysts and balls this is high-Heyer style - a wonderfully woven story that provides as much action as it does romance.

In some ways it is ahead of its time in terms of gender roles and the implications of cross-dressing; it is a bit like looking in a trick mirror. Absolutely recommended as a great piece of fiction.
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