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4.5 out of 5 stars
The Unknown Ajax
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'Silence had reigned over the dining-room since his lordship, midway through the first course, had harshly commanded his daughter-in-law to spare him any more steward's room gossip.' Heyer's novel starts with Lord Darracott controlling his family, who are all are all somewhat cowed by his harsh manner but dependent upon him for their livelihood and so are forced to live at Darracott Place with very little society. Unusually Heyer starts from the point of view of the footman so that she can quickly give a run down of the cast and sets the scene for the news that Lord Darracott is about to reveal at the dinner table. Since the recent death of his heir he has summoned his eldest grandson, who has never before met any of the family as his father was disowned for marrying beneath him.

Hugo Darracott, arrives at Darracott Place in Sussex to find his family expecting a mannerless and rough soldier and obliges by putting on a thick Yorkshire accent and appearing to be naive. Hugo is a veteran of the Penisular wars and has more of a grasp on worldy affairs than his cousins, but is good natured in finding his way in the family and becomes good friends with his cousin Anthea and takes a fraternal interest in her brother and Lord Darracott's favourite, Richmond.

Heyer builds the social comedy to one of her most masterfully funny and farcical scenes involving smugglers and customs officers. Hugo's mettle and strength of character becomes clear to all. Hugo is a more modern hero for Heyer, not an aristocrat or a dandy and he retains his dignity and sense of humour throughout appalling snobbery and in the most satisfying way. I hadn't read this in about 30 years and felt it stood up very well.

I had a horrible chest infection a couple of weeks ago and was mainlining Georgette Heyer's regency romances on my kindle - pure escapism - and this was one of the most entertaining.
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on 3 May 2010
..to use the Regency vernacular. Georgette Heyer reaches the pinnacle of her skill with this book, and it's long been my favourite of them all. I cannot agree with other reviewers who say that it's boring, or the characters are flat and one-dimensional. They are original, believable, even the minor characters sparkle. The dialogue is anything but boring and I love the way the plot builds to the very fast paced and funny,and clever climax.
The dysfunctional Darracot family, led by the irascible Lord Darracot - deserve all that their newly-met relative and reluctant heir Hugo metes out to them, when he realises that they expect him to be an "unlettered rustic" and totally beneath them. The book delivers comedy, suspense, romance, adventure, farce even (the two valets and Hugo's valiant efforts to save the Darracots from themselves at the end). Do read it and judge for yourselves.
If Georgette Heyers books were ever dramatised then this one would translate very well to the screen.
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on 11 May 2014
I have always loved the wit of Georgette Heyer and having bought a new kindle have begun to read her novels again. This one is quite different from the others I have read. The plot is very thin and much of the book deals with daily hum drum life in this isolated house. I felt I never really got to grips with the character of Anthea and found it difficult to understand from the written word where the romance between her and the major came from because that spark was never fully explained.. There were lots of North Country words which I had to guess or look up and that stopped the flow of the story for me. There was a bit of smuggling went on at the end but it was too little too late . The story also seemed to finish very abruptly too. All in all I found this at odds with her other books which sparkle with humour and wit. Maybe I am missing something. I would recommend prospective readers try Frederica or Regency Buck before this one.
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on 4 November 2013
I am a great Georgette Heyer fan, but naturally some of her books appeal more than others. This one appeals greatly to my sense of humour. All her books, although light, are very well written and her wonderful characters crop up in different guises in each book. This one has an unlikely hero (apparently), a spirited young lady, a comical character, a bad tempered old man, a surly young man, an enigmatic youth and several others, all of whom I enjoyed. The dialogues are lively and amusing and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole book. The way the characters came together in a crisis at the end was highly entertaining. I read it (for the 2nd time) while recuperating from an operation and it was just what the Doctor ordered.
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This is my fav GH book. It's a family drama with excellent characters. The romance is sweet and the comedy is on par with the best of GH. I loved every page.

Miles from anywhere, Darracott Place is presided over by irascible Lord Darracott. The recent drowning of his eldest son has done nothing to improve his temper. For now he must send for the unknown offspring of the uncle whom the family are never permitted to mention. Yet none of that beleaguered family are prepared for the arrival of the weaver's brat and heir apparent ...
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on 22 February 2011
I have re-visited Gerogett Heyer's books after many years. This time round I am just as delighted with them as I was as a teenager. The Unknown Ajax is typical in that it is set in the Regency period of Engligh history, but this particular story is a tale of dysfunctional families, but with a great deal of humour, and a very lovable hero, who rises above his family's dislike of him. The writing as ever is of a very high standard and the historical detail very accurate without ever becoming boring. A very good read.
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on 21 June 2015
My Current favourite on my journey to re-read all Georgette Heyers books. There were bits in the book where you wanted to laugh out loud.
An old plot we know but so wonderfully done. The unwanted heir and how he works his way into the family.
I did feel that at the end, there was another book waiting to be written about what happened next as it just seemed to stop which was a shame.
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on 13 August 2014
My favourite book of one of my favourite authors. Good story, plenty of action, interesting and varied characters all set in one of my favourite parts of England. What more? Georgette Heyer's genre has been copied many times by many authors but no one come close to the original. Last but not least, her prose construction is almost faultless.
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on 22 June 2013
The Author has places this novel in the Kent marshes, she obviously has been to the area and has captured the essence of the local people who still view newcomers with an in-built suspicion . Travel onto Rye and you can still walk along the cobble-stoned streets and have a pint in the Mermaid Inn. Well worth spending time with this volume.
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on 23 April 2013
Georgette Heyer is, as always, brilliant. An engrossing and entertaining story. Sadly spoilt by the numerous errors in proofing by Random House. Just because it's an ebook doesn't mean it shouldn't have the same care taken with the editing. Come on, Random House, get your act together and edit your ebooks efficiently!
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