My first foray into the world of Georgette Heyer — and Regency romance — was not a disappointing one! Like the countless lords, fools and gentlemen who fall in love with brash, bewitching Miss Sophy Stanton-Lacy, I don’t think I’ll be able to forget The Grand Sophy for a long while.
When her father leaves for South America, Sophy is deposited in the care of her father’s sister, Lady Ombersley, who lives in London with her indifferent husband and great brood of children — among them the beautiful Cecilia, close in Sophy’s age, and Charles Rivenhall, the eldest son and executor of the estate. After arriving at Berkeley Square, Sophy can quickly see she’s needed to set a great many things to rights in her family’s world: Charles and his terrible temper must be contained — and his engagement to Eugenia Wraxton, a pious and droll woman, cannot stand; the infatuation Cecilia has for handsome poet Augustus Fawnhope must also come to an end; and the children need some joy in their lives — coming in the form of Jacko, the pet monkey Sophy entrances them with upon first stepping out of her carriage. And despite any of their efforts to resist her charms — or their anger at her turning their world upside down — it’s impossible for anyone not to love the Grand Sophy.
Myself included! Heyer’s novel of manners, family and love is witty, fun, entertaining and romantic. Sophy Stanton-Lacy is such a powerful presence in the story, you’d think everyone else would be totally washed out — but that couldn’t be further from true. Each character comes to life through Heyer’s spot-on descriptions and eye for detail, letting us know just what kind of a numbskull the dowdy Lord Bromford is without having to beat us over the head with the facts. As a writer, her touch is light — but very effective. And I would have loved to go “for a turn” in the phaeton of one Lord Charlbury or Mr. Charles Rivenhall, I’ll tell you that! I love the romantic English turns of phrase, and Heyer’s language seems as authentic as I can imagine.
Though I’m quite the Jane Austen fan and love historical fiction, I was a little worried that the language and syntax of the writing would overwhelm me — but definitely not. I found the entire book easily readable and digestable, and I had a hard time putting it down. I even considered taking an hour of vacation time in order to finish the book on a lunch break! The unexpected turns in the story kept it fresh and lively, and I couldn’t have asked for a better — or happier — ending . . . though I was sad to see it end. One of my favorite books this year!
5 out of 5!