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Ships in bay

Sylvester - Georgette Heyer

I don't have many 'comfort read' authors... I suppose the truth being that I'm not often in need of *real* comfort reading because I'm rarely that unhappy. But sometimes you just want something familiar that you know has a happy ending and for me Georgette Heyer fits the bill nicely. I used to reread her on a regular basis, whizzed through as many as I could before I got bored and moved on. These days I pick the odd one up from time to time, devour it, think about reading more and then don't. Not sure what that says but there you go. So anyway, this week it was Sylvester for the umpteenth time of reading.

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My copy is dated 1970 and it took me a while to find a pic of the cover. I wanted to as I'm particularly fond of this rather nautical scene and wouldn't replace my copy for anything. Though, perhaps I *should* get a new one for rereading to stop my favourite one from falling to peices! Anyway, along with Frederica, Arabella, The Black Sheep, Lady of Quality and Venetia, Sylvester is one of my favourite Heyers. I would put it near the top too, probably right after Frederica.

It's a fairly common Regency plot to be honest. Phoebe Marlow lives with her father, step-mother and step-sisters. To a (wo)man they are all intimidated by the step-mother who, while not actually cruel, is cold and overbearing. The Duke of Salford, Sylvester, is looking for a wife but not one who will disturb his equilibrium and ordered life. He sets off, on his godmother's suggestion, to look over Phoebe. Phoebe is incensed at being made to feel like a peice of horseflesh and not a little alarmed too as she has written a book where Salford is the thinly disguised villain - based on a couple of previous brief encounters with him. She does a runner with a male friend and ends up being helped out of the mess by Salford. The story doesn't end there of course. Many misunderstandings and adventures follow until a satisfying conclusion is eventually reached.

If the plot is so common why do I love the book so much? I suppose it must be the writing. Heyer's style is faultless and intelligent but still incredibly readable. Her books also possess a wonderful sense of humour which tends to be missing in modern equivalents. To my mind she has no equal in the Regency romance genre - though I'm not counting Jane Austen as her books are rather more than Regency romances! So, I shall definitely reread more and probably dig out a few that I rarely reread and can hardly remember. But not just yet.


I'm not sure what it is about Frederica but it does seem to be a lot of people's favourite - it's certainly mine. I have about 15 Heyers, including The Unknown Ajax which I don't remember well, and Cotillion which, oddly enough, is the one I took out to read when I next read a Heyer. I don't remember that too well either. My eldest daughter has the complete collection and knows them off by heart.