on 2 January 2006
The first time I read Cotillion I found myself a little disappointed. Perhaps because Freddie isn’t really the sort of hero I go for (The Marquis of Vidal, Marquis of Alverstoke or Earl of Worth from Heyer’s novels spring to mind here), perhaps because Kitty wasn’t the usual intelligent, witty heroine, perhaps because there were lots of different stories which diluted the overall effect.
I read it again, two months later and completely changed my mind. Freddie IS a great hero because of his sweetness of nature, self-awareness and the way that he rises to the occasion when it becomes necessary and saves the day in so many ways, but humbly. And as for the hero character, Jack Westruther, who you might expect to be that – he isn’t; we hear of his rake lifestyle and it’s offputting. However, Freddie’s father makes a fascinating side-character with his sly wit and amusing turn of phrase; Lord Legerwood definitely adds a spice to the book and he’s now my hero of it, alongside his son.
The period detail of Heyer’s books is of course fantastic and this one is no different. What stands out for me in Cotillion is that Heyer is able to portray many different people, some of whom are simple or at least not particularly intelligent, with real veracity. Kitty’s young and bighearted and is utterly convincing; Freddie isn’t particularly intelligent but has a lot of common sense and worldly knowledge and he is convincing; Freddie’s sister whose husband is away and is flexing her flirting muscles is convincing – all the characters we come across in Cotillion are different from each other (and from other Heyer characters) but work. No mean feat!
I recommend this book very much, and it definitely improves with subsequent reading.
on 19 February 2004
This is an interesting book from Heyer. On the face of it, Jack Westruther is much more her typical hero type - handsome, witty, quick on the uptake - but while not unsympathetic to him, in Cotillion she explores the character traits that make this type perhaps not such a suitable long-term match.
As a contrast, Freddy Standen is about as far removed from Heyer's dangerous archetype as it is possible to get. Not, on first acquaintance, particularly quick on the uptake in the conventional sense, the reader, along with Kitty, soon realises that he is very far from stupid. Importantly, he is a genuinely good person, motivated by the desire to do the best for Kitty and to help her out of the scrapes in which her involvement in the affairs of her cousins and her friends rapidly lands her, and his normally restrained demeanour does not prevent his being roused to passionate emotion.
Kitty Charing is, in her turn, is a delightful heroine - only nineteen (and believably so), raised in rural seclusion with an overdependence on sensational works of literature, she is determined to achieve some measure of independence and gradually learns that what she needs from a man is very different from the romantic heroes of poetry and legend.
In addition, the sub-plots - Freddy's extended family and Kitty's connections, Kitty's slightly dodgy French cousin Camille, her beautiful but impoverished friend Olivia, the feeble-minded but good-natured Lord Dolphinton and his distinctly "trade" inamorata - add sparkle and charm to the narrative and evoke genuine interest in the interwoven plot strands.
Overall, this is one of my favourite Georgette Heyers - and I speak as one who is normally a sucker for her more witty, quick-tempered, and worldly heroes (as in Devil's Cub and so forth). This book may have more of a nice cocoa-ey feel to it, but it's none the less charming and engaging for all that, and I defy anyone not to buy into the general warm fuzziness at the end as Jack gets his comeuppance. Also some genuinely laugh-out-loud lines. Definitely recommended.
on 14 October 2003
This is one of the funniest, most heartwarming romances I've ever read. It turns all the conventions on their heads and produces an original plot, adorable characters, and a lot of laugh out loud moments. If you like your heroes proud and arrogant, then try Sylvester, These Old Shades, or Devil's Cub, but if you want a feel good book that amuses from beginning to end, then read Cotillion. There are no sex scenes, and not a lot of passion, but it's still one of the best romances ever written.
on 15 February 2002
This is one of my favorite Heyer books- and that is saying a lot! The characters are truly spectacular. Even the minor characters are all described masterfully. Instead of having a dashingly brooding or a rake of a hero, Heyer gives us Freddie, who will win any girl's heart with his hilarious comments and his true sweetness. A must read!
on 30 March 2011
I have to give the book itself five stars, it's one of Heyer's best - although it's not a good one to start with as you won't know how many games Heyer is playing with her own conventions. The book is funny in its own right (deeply serious discussion of the social embarrassment that would be caused by the average knight errant) and the only Heyer where I was kept guessing about who the hero was.
The Kindle edition only gets three stars. It does have a proper table of contents so you can jump to any chapter and chapters do always start on a new page. It also has a lot of typos, mostly just one incorrect character in a word. It doesn't seem to be as bad as some of the other Kindle editions of Heyer, Devil's Cub apparently has chunks of sentences missing. Although this isn't published by Arrow, it does use the same cover picture as the Arrow paperback so I'm guessing there is a link and in my experience, the Arrow paperbacks are also full of typos.
I'll wait to see if the Kindle reviews get better before I buy any more Georgette Heyer Kindle editions.
on 16 September 2005
My favourite Georgette Heyer novel - and I've read all of them. It has a gentle charm with a variety of personalities, mostly credible at least for the main characters, a few twists in the plot and a happy ending for the most warm-hearted people. The heroine is an unremarkable young lady whose restricted upbringing has left her little opportunity to show her talents. Her petals unfurl as she takes on challenges in a new lifestyle and leave you rooting for her all the way.
When curmudgeonly old miser Matthew Penicuik suffers a particularly bad episode of gout, he thinks it's time to decide who will inherit his considerable fortune once he's gone. Not that any of his relatives believe him to be in any danger, hypochondria being another of his endearing qualities. Many years earlier, he had taken in Kitty Charing, the orphaned daughter of a friend, and he wants to be sure she'll be provided for. So he hits upon the infamous notion of announcing that he will leave all of his money to whichever of his great-nephews marries Kitty, and invites them all to come for a visit - and to propose to poor Kitty. Everyone assumes Jack will be the lucky man - not only is he Great-Uncle Matthew's favourite, but Kitty has had a crush on him since she was a schoolroom miss. But Jack's pride won't let him dance to Great-Uncle Matthew's tune and anyway he's not ready to get married, being too busy womanising all over town, so he refuses to come. In a fit of pique, Kitty persuades her cousin, the Honourable Freddy Standen, to pretend to become engaged to her and take her to London for a month on the pretext of meeting his parents...
Georgette Heyer's Regency romances are my idea of literary chicken soup - they're what I turn to if I have a cold or a fit of the dismals or, as now, hit a brick wall with some of the stuff I've been reading. She writes with such humour and the books are generally light and frothy fun. The heroes are usually rich, often proud and always handsome. The heroines are always strong, usually feisty and spirited, and would never dream of marrying for anything other than love. In fact, they are all variations of Darcy and Lizzie, and the road to true love is always as convoluted as in Pride and Prejudice, but stripped of the serious side of that book. Heyer is fun and romance, pure and simple, and the inevitable happy ending in no way diminishes the pleasure of the journey.
Cotillion is my favourite of all Heyer's romances. Kitty is such a likeable heroine - kept countrified and dowdy all her life, she discovers the joys of clothes-shopping, hairdressing, learning to dance, and is soon able to stand her ground with the best of them. Freddy's friends and family have always considered him nothing more than a fashionable young man about town - a Bertie Woosterish figure - but as he has to pull Kitty out of one scrape after another, he shows a level of intelligence and competence no-one ever suspected he possessed. The supporting cast is the usual Regency line-up of fops and dandies, grande dames and put-upon companions, flirts and innocent young misses, out-and-outers and Pinks of the Ton. The assorted great nephews vying with varying degrees of enthusiasm for Kitty's hand add an extra level of humour to the book. And then there's Jack - all charming exterior and wicked interior.
Will Kitty realise Freddy's superior worth before it's too late? Will Freddy begin to reconsider his bachelor ways? Will Kitty's friend Olivia marry the old roué Sir Henry Gosford for money or find a way to marry the gorgeous Chevalier d'Evron for love? Will Great-Uncle Matthew ever recover from his gout? And will I read this book again and again and again? Entertaining, mood-enhancing fun to brighten up the greyest day!
on 7 April 2010
I wish to be a little frank with you before I shared my review. I have a list of Georgette Heyer novels I have read and everytime I read another I add it to the list and rank in order of how much I liked it.
"Cotillion" started off wonderfully. Beautiful characterisation, an appealing heroine, a certain and delectable hero (or so I thought) and some good-old-tying-stomach-in-knots tension before they are blissfully reunited!
Reading a little onwards, there was a point when the 'hero' (in my mind) had yet to be introduced, so surreptitiously (although I'm not actually sure who's watching..) I flicked to the back to see who Kitty, who is charming, by the way, ends up with.
And then I was disconsolate! I was certain that the magnificent Georgette Heyr had made an easy, disappointing error.
Well, as arrogant as I may appear in that instance, I continued reading.
And so wonderful!
This book is now joint second on my list with 'Devil's Cub' and my goodness, it is good! If you enjoy Georgette Heyer, you are depriving yourself of one of her best books if you do not immediately read this. My advice to you: buy, get a good packet of biscuits, lay/sit/curl up somewhere where you won't be disturbed and read your socks off!
This is classic Heyer. A complicated love triangle revolving around a perky heroine and an upstanding gentlemanly hero. The cad in the middle is suitably rakish with plenty of room to be deflated. My favourite character however, has to be Dolph, the dim witted cousin,desperately trying to do the right thing, while all around consider him hopeless. Henpecked by his mother and reviled by his brothers, he is nevertheless sweet and funny and deserves his happy ending more than anyone else in the whole book.
on 29 October 2010
Kitty is a pretty but unsophisticated young girl adopted by the disagreeable and ageing Mr Penuik, who upon deciding that his fortune will be Kitty's dowry invites all his nephews to Arnside house. To inherit the fortune, she must choose one of them to marry or she faces being peniless in the world after her guardian is gone. However the darkly handsome and rakish Jack Westruther who Kitty has 'fancied herself in love with for years' fails to turn up because he hates being forced into anything although he is his Great Uncle's favourite and the one he really wanted to see married to Kitty. The distressed Kitty who doesn't want her guardian's 'odious fortune' is forced to bear the proposals of the reluctant Lord Dolpington forced by his domineering mother into doing so and the sensible and dry Hugh who is to become a church parson.
When Kitty meets another of her cousins, Freddy Standen she persuades him to pretend to be engaged to her after recounting her situation so that she can travel to London to meet his family and make Jack jealous of him.
Arriving in London unsophisticated and innocent, completely unaware of the way of London society, Freddy finds that she is going to take a lot of 'looking after.' Fascinated by the sights, fashions and new people, Freddy is obliged to accompany her on sight seeing trips and many other visits. Finding her place, Kitty is soon involved in a the romantic involvements of several of her acquaintances too, which poor Freddy is dragged into too.
Although when doubts about her engagement to Freddy creep through after her month in London is up and the possibility of revealing the truth is discussed, Kitty begins to wonder: is Freddy the man for her after all?
There are a whole cast of typical Heyer characters in Cotillion: the old and eccentric uncle, the fussy spinster governess, handsome young rake, a pretty and young heiress, a fashionable and intelligent Pink of The Ton, a gorgeously beautiful but on the verge of penniless young girl and an exceedingly foolishly silly Earl. Their different personalities all wove together to create a vibrant and amusing set of characters that are very memorable.
When we first meet Kitty, a nineteen year old who has had a simple and sheltered upbringing she is very innocent and unaware of the ways of the world but a cunning and witty side to her is revealed in her plans. She has a good natured attitude which attracts many people to her side and induces her to help her friends in their romantic troubles.
Freddy is a very honourable and intelligent young man blessed with a considerable fortune and a very easy going and humble manner. As more of his qualities were slowly revealed throughout the book, particularly his loyalty and fondness of Kitty, I began to see that the two were perfectly matched. He is very different from the Heyer heroes I have encountered so far who have mostly been arrogant rakes and I found that he was very likeable.
The conversations and scenes with Kitty and Freddy together were lovely and amusing to read, one of my favourites is when Freddy is dragged all over London to look at all the sights in Kitty's guide book Picture of London such as the Elgin Marbles and The Tower of London.
The secondary characters add to the sparkle and fun he plot, we meet: Kitty's dubious French cousin Camille; her stunningly beautiful but impoverished friend Olivia; her poor cousin Lord Dolphington being bullied by his manipulative mother and Freddy's slightly vain sister Meg whose fashion sense is to be questioned.
Heyer's writing is fine and witty, there are many laughable lines and the Regency language used may have had been reaching for a dictionary occasionally but it gave the book great character. I particularly liked Freddy's constant 'Oh dash it Kit!' and other words like 'clodpole' and the description of 'Corinthian' or Pink of The Ton.' Her descriptions and realistic dialogue really bring Regency London to life, addressing not only the glamorous side of society but also the darker side too.
Verdict: Cotillion is a delightful dance of fun, mischief and love that lives up to the dance it is named after. in a rich plot that will keep the pages turning. With lovable characters and a brilliant London setting, it could be a perfect starter for a first time reader of Heyer's novels. Perfect to curl up with!