Finished "The Grand Sophy", the classic Regency Romance by Georgette Heyer. I'm trying to explore the genres a bit more, and apparently this is a good example.
Independent-minded Sophy is parked in a houseful of relatives, and decides to sort out their romantic problems while looking for a husband herself.
Seemed interesting at first. It's quite decently written, with a large vocabulary and a good period feel. The plot setup reminds me of P.G. Wodehouse: it's the sort of thing that's much harder to construct than it looks.
Struggled with it a bit once the novelty had worn off. Why do these women have to faff around so much? It's perfectly obvious who's going to pair off with whom, so why not just get on with it? Why all this mucking about with getting engaged to the wrong guy?
Also find the grand Sophy rather creepy. As soon as she gets into this house there's an immediate frisson between her and the heir George. She also sets about splitting him up with his bluestocking fiancée Eugenia. However, she doesn't seem to draw any connection between the two, apparently believing that she's just breaking them up to keep the rest of the family safe from Eugenia's depressing influence. There seems to be some kind of weird denial going on there: she's ruthlessly wrecking relationships in pursuit of the richest guy on the scene, yet somehow convinces herself that she has only the noblest of motives. If you ask me, that poor bastard Charles ought to gallop a mile to get away from the barmy bint.
Also found the anti-semitic overtones with the moneylender a bit disconcerting. Wouldn't have stood out in an 18th or 19th century novel, but this was written in the 1950s.
...the door was slowly opened to reveal a thin, swarthy individual, with long greasy curls, a semitic nose, and an ingratiating leer. He was dressed in a suit of rusty black, and nothing about him suggested sufficient affluence to lend as much as five hundred pence to anyone. His hooded eyes rapidly took in every detail of Sophy's appearance, from the curled feathers in her high-crowned hat to the neat kid boots upon her feet.I think it's the subtle hierarchy of snobbery that I find hard to take. It's not just that there's "our social class" and an assumption that you have to marry within it. Instead there's the sense of an elaborate ladder: when the Duke of York visits he must be fawned over; the eldest son has higher status than the younger scions; Augustus is dismissed as the sort of man "waiters serve last"; honest yeomen are higher than Jews. Anyone more that a couple of degrees away needs to be treated with either contempt and obsequiousness.
"Good-morning!" said Sophy. "Are you Mr Goldhanger?"
He stood, a little bent, before her, wiping his hands together...
...The instinct of his race made him prefer, whenever possible, to maintain a manner of the utmost urbanity, so he now smiled, and bowed, and said that my lady was welcome to do whatever she pleased in his humble abode.
Overall, a bit of a mixed experience, amusing in places, but drags in the middle and with some unpleasant overtones. Pretty well done though, with decent writing and dialogue, and a great period detail. Plot is predictable and a bit silly, but well worked out. Was interesting to read one, but don't think I'll be seeking out many more in the Regency Romance line. Might look out for her detective books.
I've been generally sleeping well lately: about 7 hours a night or so. Not sure why.
I'm pretty sure I smelt the notorious Euro-whiff yesterday.
Not much planned at the moment. Ought to book some kind of holiday at some point. Was thinking of Vienna which seems logical from an art-tour point of view, but can't really get up any enthusiasm for it. Maybe should try Istanbul or Athens instead, but they're more winter things.
Via B3ta: High Tech Noon
Economics: Food scarcity or speculative bubble?
Animal pharm: caricatures of musicians.
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