Monday, September 22, 2014

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

Absolutely delightful, the best Georgette Heyer I've read. There is a romance reminiscent of Colonel Brandon and Marianne's, and the main couple is patterned after Darcy and Elizabeth. And the main character has a penchant for meddling like Emma. The historical elements feel accurate, and the exchanges are witty and endearing. The language throughout is a treat.

Sir Horace is a large, loud widower who is travelling more than he is at home. He has one daughter, Sophy. When he becomes engaged to a woman who does not wish to be seen as Sophy's stepmother, Sir Horace arranges to leave Sophy at the home of his sister, Lady Ombersley, in hopes that she can get Sophy married off.

All is not well at Lady Ombersley's home. Her husband is a gambler who has endangered their home and lifestyle. Her son Charles has come into enough money of his own to take control from his father, but this role has turned him into a stodgy and humorless fellow. His many younger brothers and sisters don't feel they can confide their troubles to him. His oldest sister is determined to marry a dull and clueless poet instead of the fine gentleman who is in love with her, and Charles hasn't the sense to let the romance run its course, instead taking steps that make her all the more determined. Charles is engaged to an intolerable and dreary young woman his family cannot abide.

Sophy arrives at the Ombersley home in all her glory - in a chaise drawn by four horses, with a greyhound, a parrot, and a monkey - and turns the lives of the family upside down. She interferes right and left until all are engaged to the right people and she has found love as well. The action gets pretty ridiculous, but it's enjoyable all the same.

If you are a fan of Jane Austen style romances and haven't read The Grand Sophy, I recommend putting it at the top of your To Read list.

One note: there is an offensive racial stereotype of a money lender that somewhat mars this otherwise delightful novel

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