Heyer, Georgette. Lady of Quality.

NY: Dutton, 1972.

The lady of the title is Miss Annis Wychwood, now approaching the age of thirty, still a spinster, and not displeased about it. She possesses considerable independent means and had moved out of her brother’s country estate some years before and into her own townhouse in Bath before strained sibling relations were pushed beyond the point of retrieval. She’s an excellent manager, has a wide circle of good friends, and is not encumbered by the fact that she’s also extremely beautiful.

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Heyer, Georgette. Sylvester, or The Wicked Uncle.

NY: Putnam, 1957.

Among other works, Georgette Heyer wrote nearly three dozen “Regency romances.” They have various things in common — a romance (naturally), humor, and an especially well-researched milieu — but they’re not all alike. Far from it.

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Heyer, Georgette. Charity Girl.

NY: Dutton, 1970.

This is one of the author’s later Regency romances (her next-to-last one, in fact) and while it’s not nearly her best, it’s not bad at all. It could also practically be titled “Regency Road Trip.” Charity Steane (but who prefers to be called “Cherry”) has the misfortune to be the daughter of a con man and wastrel who essentially abandoned her to a private school when she was small — and then neglected to pay the bills.

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Published in: on 5 October 2011 at 11:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Heyer, Georgette. The Reluctant Widow.

NY: Putnam, 1946.

It’s around 1812 and Elinor Rochdale is a young woman of good family but straitened circumstances. At twenty-six, she has spent six years earning her way as a governess and she’s now on her way to a new, not vey promising situation down in Sussex. At the stage stop, however, she somehow gets in the wrong carriage and finds herself carried out into the countryside to a sprawling and rather dilapidated residence where she is awaited by Lord Carlyon, who was expecting the arrival of a wife-by-mail for his dissipated cousin, Eustace Cheviot. (It’s all reminiscent of the plot of a musical comedy.)

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Published in: on 17 September 2011 at 6:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Haddon, Mark. A Spot of Bother.

NY: Doubleday, 2006.

I was very impressed with Haddon’s first novel, the award-winning Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. This one is about as different as it’s possible to be, and it’s also pretty impressive. George Hall is in his sixties, a retired builder of playground equipment, who has always been a little off-center in his method of dealing with life. Mostly, he tries to ignore things that make him uncomfortable — even more than your typical Englishman. Things like potential jetliner crashes and the possibility of dying of cancer.

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Published in: on 10 April 2011 at 5:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ames, Kenneth L. Death in the Dining Room, and Other Tales of Victorian Culture.

Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.

As I’ve noted in other reviews, I have a long and deep interest in material culture — the physical artifacts produced by the way we live, which often are the only surviving evidence of our everyday history. In college nearly fifty years ago, as a trainee historian but also for its cheap entertainment value, I got in the habit of attending estate sales (even though I couldn’t afford to buy anything), just to prowl around the leftovers of some family’s earlier generations: Pocket watches and fobs, oddball kitchen implements and mysterious silverware, uncomfortable parlor furniture.

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Published in: on 28 December 2010 at 6:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cherryh, C. J. Tripoint.

NY: Warner, 1994.

Cherryh has developed a number of fictional universes over the years — and done it exceptionally well — but the favorite of many of her readers, and the one where she has spent the most time, is the Union/Alliance future, where the major players are the scattered space stations built to orbit far stars, first by Earth and then by Earth’s rebellious colonies, plus the mostly independent merchanters, the long-haul freight-carrying ships that hold everything together.

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Published in: on 24 October 2010 at 12:37 pm  Comments (1)  
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Dee, Jonathan. The Privileges.

NY: Random House, 2010.

I’ve never read anything by Dee before. Embarrassingly, I picked this novel up because the cover illustration and the flap copy were interesting. But I’m glad I invested the time in reading it, because the man is a master of the English language. The story begins twenty-odd years ago on the wedding day of young Adam and Cynthia Morey, the first in their set to actually get married. He’s the son of a middle-class union official, she the daughter of a slightly more well-to-do business type. Dee’s recounting of the events of that day, see through the eyes not only of the (very) happy couple but also her mother, his brother, her stepsister, their best friends, and the wedding planner, sets the scene for their rest of their lives.

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Published in: on 26 May 2010 at 7:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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