First published in 1936, this is one of Heyer’s last Georgian romances. Set in the south of England at some undefined time shortly after the French Revolution, it includes romance, adventure, random French words and phrases, Bow Street Runners, a missing heirloom and an heir who must be cleared of murder before he can resume his rightful place in society.
A parody of the romantic adventure genre, the novel is an inspired piece of fluff. The ingénue, Eustacie, is lovely, smart, and a lot less annoying than many similar characters. Her love interest Ludovic (yes, Ludovic – Heyer had a sense of humour where names are concerned) is suitably swashbuckling. While their romance is sweet, the more interesting love story involves Sir Tristram Shield and Sarah Thane: both of them a little older, a lot more sensible and much less stereotypically romantic than their younger counterparts. The supporting characters – particularly Sarah’s brother Hugh – are also lots of fun.
There is nothing deep or meaningful about this novel. Indeed, as Eustacie might have said: “It is a history of a silliness the most profound”. Sometimes, though, that’s exactly what I need. When I’m feeling a little down, reading one of Georgette Heyer’s novels will bring a smile to my face. This is one to re-read when I need more than just a smile, as it has the power to make me laugh out loud.
I enjoyed re-reading this novel after a long break; even more so because I shared the experience with my friend Jemidar.