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A Different Sort of Heroine for the author; the book pretends to attack the status quo while upholding it.
on 21 November 2017
As ever -should anyone care to comment on my review, may I use the comments for the purposes of my ongoing research into the role of historical novels and escapism in women's consciousness? Thank you.
I ought to begin by saying something positive.
Well, apart from Heyer's usual excessive use of exclamation marks, the grammar is very good, as in fact, is true of most of the writers of that era. The writing style flows well. This was a now late middle aged and confident author who knew her target audience and was veering from her usual style of heroine.
This one is stout and her supposed earthiness is meant to reflect her farming ancestry. She manages to combine being phlegmatic and unimaginative with being madly in love with Adam. I could see his why he might appeal to many readers as a good natured, unassuming, High Tory young officer left with a limp from his militery action. The heroine's devotion is cleverly depicted as it is gradually made obvious even to him.
As usual, painstaking research has gone into depicting the lifestyles of the priviliged. Those who enjoy those sort of details - and obviously, many do - will be impressed.
As for the rest - well, it couldn't hold my interest, but I think a lot of readers will enjoy this new sort of heroine and this slowly developing affection between hero and heroine. Usually, detest the author's assumptions though I do, I find some bits funny, but I didn't find this one amusing.
I didn't dislike it as I did 'The Talisman Ring', 'Venetia' or, worst of all, 'Devil's Cub'. Still, I found both the hero and heroine uninteresting.
The high drama of the story is meant to be when Adam stands to lose money on the Stock Exchange by refusing to believe in the British Army's defeat.
The approach with its make believe Regency did exasperate me, as ever. This one, like 'The Unknown Ajax' pretends to attack snobbery, whilst upholding the status quo. Jenny is never so happy as when she is driving past the villagers and acknowledging their obescience. You can see why she is terrified as at the thought of 'a Jacobin republic' being resumed in France on Napoleon 's escape: what if the ideas spread, and the villagers ceased to tug their forelocks at her over here?
It is also seems to suggest sexual desire is frivilous, and sexual activity should be viewed as a grim duty to be endured in order to make babies. The hero has been given an artificially simplified choice between a silly sexually attractive woman and one who offers no allure but a comfortable home with his favourite cakes for tea. If it was indicated that while Jenny was not pretty, the hero found her attractive anyway, that would be sweet, but that wasn't the impression with which I was left.
Well, the biography I read makes it clear the author was notoriously indifferent to what she no doubt called 'that sort of thing'.