This was delightful. I haven’t read a Heyer novel in a month and maybe I missed her, but this is one of my favourite of her novels.
This classic Heyer: most eligible yet indifferent dandy bachelor gets enthralled with an innocent yet headstrong girl. I noticed that with this novel that sometimes I find the men in Heyer’s romances younger than their years and the girls somewhat older so it equals out. In her books, a lot of the rich men are encouraged to be spoilt boys. But they are still gentleman, otherwise they would be poor romantic leads.
Arabella is a lovely protagonist. While innocent and not the most cosmpolitan, she is a good daughter, sister, and a kind person. Also, she is mischevious just enough without being annoying. The fact that her lie was preposterous, but I liked it. She really makes up for it by being one of the few heroines actually to consider social justice and charity. She is flawed, but not overly. She definitely puts Mr Robert Beaumarais in his place.
There is aspects of Pride and Prejdudice in this work, and careful readers of Austen will notice the allusions. Mr Beaumarais is a bit of a Darcy. All handsome, proud, stylish and hiding his good heart beneath it. There are some really nice scenes with him and his dog Ulysses. The extent in which he draws to draw out Arabella is fun to read.
The only thing annoying about the book was Arabella’s brother Bertram. Often times, Heyer heroines have rather silly and not the most helpful brothers.
This was one of those few Heyer books where I love the hero and heroine equally. Usually, I favour one slightly more (or grossly more in some cases) over the other. The only other time I found this was Sylvester which was even more like P&P. I think the merit is that Heyer is able to balance out the time she spent developing both characters. She focused more on Arabella and her lively family in the first half and shifts the focus to Robert in the second half. Not many authors can really balance such nice character development equally, but when is at her best, she makes it look easy.
I would reread this novel. It was sweet and fun. I even laughed out loud once or twice which is not a common occurence for me. A good, light romantic read.
Read September 3rd-4th 2012.