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Customer Review

on 16 June 2005
The second Georgette Heyer romance novel I read when I first started devouring her novels a few decades ago, (the first was "Black Sheep"), "Sprig Muslin" is, to this day, my favourite Regency-era romance novel of all time. It's novel that can proudly boast of possessing everything from a nice, gently paced romance subplot, to an adventure (of a small sort), with some hysterically funny scenes, and written with just the right touch of gentle humour, so that you're left with a satisfied smile (and feeling) on your face long after you've finished the book.
Sir Gareth Ludlow has decided to do his duty and marry. And because he's a much sought after bachelor, and a good-looking and amiable man to boot, finding a wife shouldn't be too difficult a task. But because he is still very much affected by the death, seven years ago, of his true love (the beautiful but headstrong Clarissa) Gareth has decided to marry for suitability and convenience. Not for him some young debutante who would, no doubt, expect him to shower her with affection and dance to her tune; and Gareth has decided to ask his good friend, Lady Hester Theale, to marry him. Labeled an old maid, quiet, self effacing and practical Lady Hester surely would not look to make a love matchat this stage in her life, and would, naturally, see all the advantages of making a marriage based on mutual respect and admiration. Except that along the way to propose to Hester, Gareth meets a very young lady, all alone (no chaperone or servants) who calls herself "Amanda Smith." Beautiful, willful and with a highly imaginative mind, Amanda has runaway from home because she has a PLAN (you'll have to read the book to discover what this PLAN entails). Naturally Gareth cannot leave such a young girl by herself, and he decides to rescue Amanda for her own good. But little did Gareth imagine that when he set out to rescue Amanda that she would embroil him in an adventure of a lifetime, and that it would make him look at a certain lady with new eyes and with hope in his heart...
I had exactly the same reaction to "Sprig Muslin" that I had with Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" -- an overwhelming sense of relief and satisfaction that it had ended in exactly the way I had wanted it to. The basic plot-line is very spare, but where Heyer's genius lies is in the manner in which she quickly engages the reader's interest in the characters portrayed, making you care for them and devoutly hoping that each and every one of them gets the resolution they deserve. For myself, I've always had a soft spot for quiet, overlooked heroines, especially when most of my friends preferred heroines with more hair than wit and who exhibited a lot of resolution but practically no common sense. So that reading "Sprig Muslin" was like a tonic for me -- "watching" the gentle romance between the hero and heroine unfold quietly, esp as this contrasted superbly with each outrageous new story that Amanda would concoct and unleash -- it was just so excellently done and such fun! To this day, I've yet to come across another novel that satisfies and entertains me as much as "Sprig Muslin," and I'm beginning to doubt that I ever will. If you haven't read it yet, don't hesitate: PICK THIS BOOK UP TODAY, you won't regret it.
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