on 7 October 2004
Another of my favourite Heyers along with Frederica. Such an unlikely couple at the outset (just like Alverstoke and Frederica) Sylvester and Phoebe's love for each other at the end is therefore even more touching. The plot is wonderful, varied, entertaining. We go from country house, snow-bound inn, society London, the Channel, France and back to London. The period detail is immaculate as usual. It's also has funny, laugh-out-loud bits, especially featuring Sir Nugent Fotherby.
I wasn't allowed a separate review for the audio version so I will have to add this to my original review of the book...... I bought this because it was Richard Armitage and because it was much cheaper than the unabridged Heyer books I have been collecting on my iPod. Frankly the abridgedness (if that is a word)spoils it for me and I'm sorry. I love love love this story and so many great details have been left out that I am really disappointed. There are even some plot complications that don't quite fit together that well because of the cuts. One of the joys of Heyer is her attention to detail and that is what I have particularly enjoyed whilst listening to the books in full and glorious unabridged pleasure. I knew I was taking a chance and whilst the lovely Richard does a great job I'm afraid I won't be buying any more abridged Heyer even though he is doing a shortened version of Venetia (another of my favourites) which is coming out soon....
on 20 July 2006
One of Georgette Heyers best. I loved this book. I must have read it about 50 times, and each time I read it it's like the first time. I still get such a joy out of it. It is funny, and very romantic. There's adventure and mystery. In short, it has everything. There's nobody like Georgette Heyer for creating romantic Regency comedy, and her command of English, and the way it was spoken in Regency days is fantastic.
on 3 November 2006
Georgette Heyer is in my opinion unsurpassed as an author of Regency period romances. She knows the period detail in and out, and the reader is never disturbed by anachronisms in dress, behaviour, manners, attitudes, or embarrassed by faulty use of titles etc. The persons are allowed to speak for themselves and to show what kind of people they are, instead of the author spelling it out to her audience. The text is intelligent, the persons psychologically coherent, the ever-lurking humour delicious. The protagonists tend to be people you would want to know, and they are surrounded by people who in themselves are worth a tale, who live their own lives, and never make the reader to think that the person has only been invented to add humour or suspense to the plot.
This is what one has learned to expect from a book by Georgette Heyer. "Sylvester" is all this and more. The book is hilariously funny, romantic, even touching in a subtle way. Phoebe and Sylvester are not your typical love-story heroine and hero; both have their better and worse sides, as we people tend to have, and some of Sylvester's character-traits are downright unsympathetic (he is at least partially redeemed during the story). Although neither of them is perfect, you find yourself to be completely on their side. Is this because of the humour they both have, or is it because they, in spite of their imperfections, so thoroughly deserve to be happy and to have each other? Or is it because they, imperfect as they are, are so very life-like? One can't imagine their future life to have been mere bliss; rather one sees them as quarrelling the next forty years in perfect amity. True love is not that you find the other person a paragon; true love is that you accept the coin's both sides, as the good sides and the bad often are reflections of the same character trait. And the main thing is that you are friends, and that I considered Phoebe and Sylvester to be.
There is nothing explicitly sexual about this story. I find this (natural as it is, considering when Heyer has written this book) more believable than having the protagonists eroticizing on some balcony or in a dark garden during some ton party or other, considering the social rules of the era. On the other hand, I had my abdomen in some kind of a grip from the moment that Sylvester marched into the French inn, met Phoebe, with whom he had quarreled most viciously, and was in his joy close to going to embrace Phoebe. This vise-like feeling lasted until they finally got each other at the end of the book. Was it because of my sympathy for them as they were both miserable at the time, or was it caused by the totally unspoken longing that the story vibrated? Sometimes you are more moved by things unsaid than those said. Sylvester's anguished self-control spoke more to me than many a clumsily written overtly erotic passage. I also expect that I would have been less moved if there had been more sentimentality and less humour about the ending.
Phoebe and Sylvester are surrounded by a gallery of vivid people living their lives next to them, having relations to Phoebe and Sylvester and to each other: Phoebe's brother-like friend Tom and his family, Phoebe's family and governess, Sylvester's mother with her companion, his cousin, and the beautiful widow of Sylvester's deceased twin brother with her delightful brat of a son and her dandy of a fiancé. These people seemed totally alive, as did Phoebe and Sylvester. Even Harry, Sylvester's dead brother, seemed more alive than does many a living character in a less well-written book.
Georgette Heyer is an author that you can trust not to bore you with unintelligent dialogue. Her pieces are finished with a lustre, only to be compared to Jane Austen. If you have not read this one, you have something to live for.
on 16 July 2000
I have several favourites in the Georgette Heyer collection . This is one of them . I have read it several times and could not put it down until finnished each time . You can almost see the story playing out in front of you it is so well written . Phoebe, in expectation of an unwanted proposal from Sylvester , Duke of Salford who she has portrayed as a villain in a novel , runs away from home only to find herself snowed in at a tavern with him. She decides he is not so bad after all . However , whilst in London Phoebe's book is published despite her attempts to stop it . Sylvester's sister-in-law thinks the book has been written as a plan for her on how to abduct her son ,Sylvester's ward. Phoebe, who feels honour-bound to dissuade her of this becomes embroiled in the plan and is carried to France against her will , a wrathfull Sylvester hard on her heels .
on 27 December 2012
This is my favourite Heyer novel. I love every one of the characters and the plot engages me every time; I have read this story so many times over the years and it always lifts my mood. Perfect research and a wonderful narrative voice.
on 9 August 2004
I can pick up and read any Georgette Heyer time and time again. I always remember the basic story, but am continually entertained by the sharply drawn characters. She has a skill for bringing a scene and the characters to life, so you feel you know how they would all react in any situation. For me, its not the story itself that makes her books so compelling, but the fantastic array of quirky minor characters who it is a joy to meet!
Read this book, enjoy an exciting yarn, and laugh out loud at the antics of the characters!
I truly enjoyed this book and found it to be a more complete type of romance novel than several of Ms. Heyer's books in this genre. In fact, when compared to some of her other books, the H/h actually get quite a bit of time together which allows the reader to more fully understand the development of their relationship.
Sylvester - Duke of Salford, has the responsibility for the family, including a sister-in-law, Ianthe, who has a strong dislike of Sylvester, in part due to the fact Sylvester was named as the guardian of her son, Edmund, when Edmund's father and Sylvester's twin brother, Harry, passed. When Ianthe decides to get married to a wealthy fop, Sylvester makes it plain she will not be taking Edmund to live with her. Edmund will be raised by Sylvester who has also decided it is time to pick a wife of his own. He tells his mama, to whom he is very close, that he has narrowed his list to five ladies. But... when he is telling her about the five, she realizes he has no notion of marrying for love and asks him to consider one other young lady - the daughter of a deceased friend - Miss Phoebe Marlow. When Sylvester visits his godmother, she gives him the same advice - she wants him to consider her own granddaughter, Phoebe Marlow, who she describes as a girl "not in the common way" - whatever that means.
Very soon, Sylvester finds himself on his way to the home of the Marlow family to check out the uncommon Phoebe. Sylvester is unaware that Phoebe's kinda wicked stepmother has informed Phoebe, Sylvester is on his way to make her an offer of marriage - which is in fact, not true. Sylvester is only coming to check her out. Phoebe goes into a panic. She has her own agenda and it doesn't include Sylvester. In fact, she has a book very ready to be published and the object of her book is a certain Count Ugolino whose facial features and arrogant personality are based on Sylvester's. It seems Phoebe had a London Season where she met Sylvester - actually danced with him, but later, at Almack's, Sylvester gave her no recognition to even acknowledge that he had ever met her. This, and other attributes of Sylvester's have all contributed to Phoebe taking note that he is arrogant beyond belief. In fact, he has unusual eyebrows that point up toward his temples, giving him the look of a satyr and, as a matter of fact so does the fictional Count Ugolino. Since Phoebe desires to get away from her stepmother, she hopes to make enough money from the publishing of her books to set up her own household with the help of her governess.
Once Sylvester meets the Marlow family he can't believe he let himself be rooked into visiting them for a week. He is not impressed with Phoebe - she has no looks or personality to recommend her, her parents are boring to the extreme and the weather is such, he may be stuck for the full week. Phoebe never shows her best when she is in the presence of her stepmother, so Sylvester isn't seeing the true Phoebe, who is indeed quite a firecracker. Not realizing Sylvester has no intentions of asking for her hand, Phoebe is in quite a taking when she believes, that if her parents have their way, she will soon be married to Sylvester and when he finds out about the book, she will be in quite the pickle. So, Phoebe prevails upon her best friend, Tom, son of the local squire, to help her run away. There is a huge snow storm and they do not get very far.
When Tom's mother arrives at the Marlowe home to tell the family Tom and Phoebe are on the run, everyone assumes they have run away to be married. Sylvester is glad to be out of the Marlow home, gives the family his regrets and begins to make his way back home to London in the heavy snow. Along the way, he finds Tom's curricle wrecked, Tom and Phoeble are at a small country inn, Tom is laid up with a broken leg, Phoebe is stuck without a chaperone and everyone is snowbound. This gives all the primary characters the opportunity to become acquainted and very shortly "firecracker" Phoebe is taking Sylvester to task for his arrogance. Sylvester is dumbfounded and yet, begins to learn some unpleasant truths about his character even while Phoebe learns that although Sylvester is arrogant, there is much that is admirable about him.
Eventually, all wind up in London where Phoebe is staying with her grandmother and where Phoebe continues to try to keep her book from becoming published even as her relationship with Sylvester continues to make progress. When Phoebe finds out Sylvester's life has even more similarities to Count Ugolino than she was aware of - such as both having a nephew, she begins to panic for in spite of all her efforts to keep the book from being published, it is a done deal.
Once the book is out, Phoebe's worst fears are realized because everyone recognizes the arrogant Sylvester and his eyebrows as the Count Ugolino. It is time for Phoebe to pay the piper. All things begin to collide even as Ianthe decides take matters into her own hands regarding Edmund. Faithful Tom is there to help his friend Phoebe in all her trials and tribulations. Sylvester is learning that perhaps his personality does need a makeover in a few areas. But, has Count Ugolino done too much damage? Can Phoebe and Sylvester make it past all the hurdles life is throwing them? You must read to find out all the details. Great book with some great minor characters such as the redoubtable Tom. I often find Ms. Heyer's minor characters' personalities to be more riveting than the main characters. She does particularly well with the young men such as Tom.
on 29 November 2015
I have read this book a number of times over the years and still find it entertaining, amusing, and just plain nice. As usual this Georgette Heyer novel has great characters getting into ridiculous and amusing situation and you can always guarantee a happy ending. Not soppy or over dramatised, just very pleasant.
on 9 August 2015
I always give very enjoyable light reads four stars. This is a delightful tale that takes one from the aristocratic countryside to fashionable London, and into France as we follow the turbulent courtship of Sylvester and Phoebe. A comedy or errors in many ways, well written and enjoyable.
on 16 July 2015
I grew up with Georgette Heyer Novels and I still read them. I must have read most of them at least ten times. I find them informative and funny and just a quick read when I don't want to "think". Sylvester is one of my favourite ones, so is Arabella or The Grand Sophie!