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The talisman ring Unknown Binding – 1937
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Top customer reviews
The dying Lord Lavenham wants his granddaughter, Eustacie to marry her cousin Sir Tristram Shield though neither of them have the slightest inclination to marry the other. Lord Lavenham's heir - Ludovic - escaped to the continent two years before after being accused of murder so he is not available to take care of Eustacie.
To say much more about the plot would be to give it away. Suffice it to say that Eustacie's precipitate actions drag a group of ill-assorted people into adventures they could never have imagined in the course of their wildest dreams or nightmares.
The characters are well drawn, the dialogue is sparkling and the story bowls along at breakneck pace with plenty of amusing incidents and some marvellous acting on the part of all the main protagonists. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the scenes and I could definitely see the book translated to the TV screen or a film.
If you're looking for descriptions of social occasions and lots of beautiful clothes then you will be disappointed but this is a marvellous romp of a book which shows Georgette Heyer at her sparkling best.
However due to severe arthritis it is several years since I've been able to read an actual book and it takes time and money to replace all my favourites onto Kindle. Especially as I had recently replaced all my Heyer novels in paperback. My New Year's resolution was to replace all her historical novels with Kindle editions and I am getting there. The Talisman Ring was one I had not read for some time and I had forgotten just how funny it was. The scene at the end of chapter 7 where amongst other things Sir Hugh Thane and Ludovic dispute the exact number of candles some 'fellow' shot out at Mrs Archer's has me crying with laughter. Sir Hugh is insistent that it was 15, Ludovic says 16. Sir Hugh continues to dispute this even though it was Ludovic who did the shooting. Coupled with Sir Hugh's rather cavalier attitude towards crime - housebreaking is definitely illegal and should be condemned, smuggling good brandy and Chambertin is not a crime, it is a public service! And he's a JP.
I never considered this to be a 'romance' and if you are looking for a traditional romance then The Talisman Ring will disappoint. It is a comedy of manners with a crime and murder to be solved. Set, mainly, in a country inn in Sussex there are no glamorous gowns, no balls, no morning calls; the story relies on the author's ability to keep the reader entertained without recourse to the normal 'society' doings of the Bon Ton. With such a claustrophobic background only an excellent writer can hold the reader's interest. Miss Heyer ensures there is never a dull moment. Her dialogue is superb, the relationships between the two sets of lovers well defined, as are the interlocking relationships between the landlord Nye, his barman Clem and Ludovic (they are all freetraders). Then we have the villains; Basil 'Beau' Lavenham, Ludovic's cousin and heir after the death of Sylvester the Machiavellian head of the family (and the original Beau who is affronted that the 'Beau' of today is a travesty). His valet, an oleaginous toady who does Basil's dirty work for him plus a miscellany of hired hands, Bow Street Runners whom you wouldn't trust to find a dead rat in a trap and the hard pushed revenue men. Who has sympathy for them in those times?
All contribute to the humour that runs through the book although my favourite has to be Sir Hugh whose only concern is the quality of the smuggled liquor and whether he may buy some (and that the alcohol is handled correctly). The romance between Ludovic and Eustacie, Sylvester's half French granddaughter is glaringly obvious. Both are very young and seeking adventure and it is a 'coup de foudre' on meeting. Personally, I dread to think of their marriage 15 years down the line! Tristram and Sarah's romance is very different - slow burning, built on mutual humour, respect and understanding. I would have no qualms about their relationship 15 years down the line.
All in all The Talisman is a gloriously funny book. There is never a dull moment and yet all the action takes place within a 5 mile radius of the Red Lion, Joseph Nye's inn. There is precious little physical action, a few punches, gunshots and that's it. To Eustacie's everlasting disappointment there is no riding 'ventre a terre', no final ride on a tumbril to the guillotine (wearing white muslin). The book relies on Miss Heyer's beautifully depicted characters and her dialogue. If you can read this without laughing out loud at least once I would be amazed.
Do buy this wonderfully funny novel. It's as good a place to start as any Georgette Heyer, and better than some. You will not be disappointed and, if you have never read any of her books before then you have the pleasure of many hours of happy reading to come. I envy you but, I know that with each re-reading I discover something new. Enjoy.
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