Friday's Child: Georgette Heyer Book Club Part 13

(100 Posts)
DilysPrice Wed 21-Nov-12 16:54:37

I have just finished rereading Friday's Child and I have a confession to make.

My name is Dilys Price and I have a horrible crush on George Wrotham. Like Isabella, his tousled locks and dark stormy beauty have troubled my dreams.

How can this be? I'm a good modern liberal feminist. I've never read Twilight or Shades of Grey. I have scoffed at those of you who have inexplicable feelings for Avon (red high heels? really?). I have recovered from slight wobbliness over Vidal. I can take or leave pretty much any of Heyer's heroes, but George and Isabella reduce me to a gibbering 'shippy wreck rarely seen since my teen Duranny days. If I were Hero then Sherry could whistle for my return - I'd be exploiting George's sensitive and protective nature something rotten (ignoring the unfortunate fact that since neither of them have any money it would be a disastrous match).

In my defence I'm pretty sure that Heyer has given herself licence to go full fledged romantic with George in a way that she never permits herself with her leading men. She originally planned to write a sequel featuring George - which was clearly a stupid idea, since his story has reached an entirely satisfactory conclusion at the end of FC - so I can only conclude that she also felt his rather cliched allure. And, like Darcy, he has the irresistible charm of being horribly, uncontrollably, unashamedly in love with his heroine.

Which brings me to Isabella, who is just brilliant. She's appealingly flawed (but if I were surrounded by men behaving like children, a mother insistent that I marry for rank, and my best mate snogging the man I loved I'd be pretty damn flawed as well) but so brave. Heyer heroines tend to be rebels by nature or just plain crushed. I like the novelty of Isabella, who (like me) is a conformist at heart, but who, when push comes to shove, finds the strength to break decades of training and say "No I don't care if he's a perfect match. I'm just not doing it! I'm going to marry the man I love even if he is broke." It's a Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway moment.

I also love the other minor characters in this one. Ferdy, Gil and Duke are exactly the sort of characters I read Heyer for, and here they are allowed to breathe in the way that the supporting characters in The Corinthian aren't - Friday's Child is a good 50% longer than The Corinthian or Faro's Daughter and the supporting cast really shows the benefit. Jasper Tarleton is possibly my favourite example of Heyer Type 3B - the nice, sensible, competent chap who gets caught up in the madness of a Heyer end-game, and spends his time with hmm grin confused grin shock grin expressions.

Have I forgotten anyone? Ah yes, Sherry <sigh>. He's all very well, but I think Heyer kills him for me with a scene right at the beginning, just after Sherry has had his wizard wheeze.

"...oh Sherry, it wasn't k-kind in you to put it into my mind if you d-didn't really mean it!"
The Viscount patted her shoulder in a perfunctory way, a slightly rueful grin quivering on his lips. Shatter-brained he might be, but the full implication of this artless speech was not lost on him. "Oh, lord!" he said.

It's a great scene, but the implication is that throughout the rest of the book, when Sherry is behaving like a bit of a bastard to Hero and all his friends are trying tactfully to let him know that this is cruel because she is actually in love with him, Sherry is perfectly well aware how much she loves him, and is doing it anyway. Not attractive.

What do you think? Do you also see George's Crush of Shame potential, or should I get a grip? Can you forgive Sherry, or should Hero have lived happily ever after with George/Jasper? Should they have let George kill Revesby at the end? And is this the Best Heyer Ever?

I love Sherry and won't hear a word against him, but then I'm more interested in the more twattish heroes too <hands back feminist Brownie badge> like Vidal swoon

I think at the beginning he sees her as a little sister and accepts her devotion in that sense. It is only at the end that he realised his feelings for her are sexual romantic rather than fraternal.

That's my take, anyway. It is protective but fun and not grown-up. He doesn't know what it means to be a husband - thinks he can carry on as before, just with a nicer house with a Kitten in it - and she is too devoted and bloody grateful for rescue from aunt's house (cf Phoebe Marlow and Pen Creed) to complain. Something about not being accustomed to having her wishes considered - is that from this? Will hunt it down!

Back later.

HumphreyCobbler Wed 21-Nov-12 17:27:37

Hope you don't mind my popping in, but I HAD to say that I too fell in love with George. He was my first love. The first time I had ever entertained those kind of thought for a fictional character.

I also wholeheartedly agree about the other characters in Friday's Child.

DilysPrice Wed 21-Nov-12 17:34:05

Thank you Humphrey (and there is no need to excuse yourself, all are always welcome to the GHBC). I feel slightly less exposed (am 44 FFS, should not be swooning over handsome masterful fictional types).

HumphreyCobbler Wed 21-Nov-12 17:35:59

When I read it the other day I remembered how much I loved him blush and how I wanted to be Isabella. I think you are spot on in your analysis of her character.

My tastes lean towards Lord Worth now.

Interesting re the Iceberg. I never got what George saw in her, besides the fun of the chase and the addiction to the unattainable.

Will reread with that in mind.

thewhistler Wed 21-Nov-12 19:26:11

Can't share the George fan group. I think he would be a good friend but one of those tiresome ones always demanding attention unless he had remembered to take his medication.

But I do think he is kind and very funny.

It's Gil I like, but I bet he was gay.

I hate to say this but it has never been one of my favourites. I enjoy it more now I am older. I love the scene where Sherry sends his awful uncle out of the room and quells his mother. And there is a good portrait of an older woman, and Jasper is the other really attractive character.

It is one of the ones where the character development is more important and that is good, too. And I am.smiling as I type this, so I do enjoy it. And the young men as a group are brilliant, likewise the names of Hero's awful cousins.

And I do think hero should end up with sherry. She would be bored by the others.

But I cannot quote from it, unlike that woman in an E European prison who wrote to GH.

But I know I am alone here

LadyDamerel Wed 21-Nov-12 20:26:05

Ah, I see. That kind of revelation grin.

Can't share the George fan group. I think he would be a good friend but one of those tiresome ones always demanding attention unless he had remembered to take his medication. Hahahahaha, brilliant summing up of him there!

George doesn't do it for me, either. I find him irritating and find myself tutting, 'oh for goodness sake, stop throwing your hair about and being such a drama queen' in most of his scenes.

To be brutally honest, I could quite happily do without the entire George/Isabella subplot. I find Isabella annoyingly two faced, although you have made me look at her differently, Dilys, so I will attempt to view her in a more charitable light when I read it later on!

I'm with Horatia on Sherry's feelings towards Hero. I think the 'Oh Lord' is because he's realised that she still hero-worships him in the way she did when they were younger (not that she's exactly old now, but he is a man-about-town while she's still a chit out of the schoolroom so there is a noticeably gap in their maturity levels), rather than him thinking she's romantically in love with him.

My favourite scenes in the book are those with Ferdy, Gil and the rest of Sherry's friends. The interactions between them make me laugh out loud, especially Ferdy's dopey remarks. I love the chapters when they take Kitten shopping and she wants to buy all those ludicrous gowns and trinkets. Ferdy is so comical as he's trying to persuade her out of it all, then she still comes away with the canary in the gilded cage.

I completely agree with Dilys that it's the extra length of this one that makes it so good. You get to know the characters far more and have lots of time to invest in them and to enjoy them. That's why I like Frederica too.

Humphrey, that's interesting what you say about George being your first fictional love but now you've moved on to Lord Worth. When we did Regency Buck most of us had a bit of a crush on him when we were younger but now we're older and a bit more experienced we aren't so keen on his over-domineering ways. What is it that you prefer about him?

HumphreyCobbler Wed 21-Nov-12 20:37:22

I quite like his domineering ways blush Possibly not as an actual life partner, but as the hero of a romantic novel he certainly works for me.

LadyDamerel Wed 21-Nov-12 21:10:08

Fair enough! I'm an Alverstoke/Damerel (surprisingly enough)/Miles Calverleigh girl myself so I'm not averse to a little bit of domination, albeit it in a GH way, rather than a 50SoG way grin.

I have to admit that I always end up with a bit of a crush on Worth by the end though, once he stops being a complete hand to Judith and becomes all heroic.

MooncupGoddess Wed 21-Nov-12 21:17:04

When I was younger I really disliked Friday's Child, because I hated the sheer silliness of the characters. They were just so undignified. Now I am <ahem> less young I can enjoy their silliness for its own sake, though I still find George pretty tedious. Isabella however I found myself warming to, on my most recent reading - she starts off all Melissa Brandonlike, but then develops a personality and even makes a couple of amusing comments!

The climax is a masterpiece, every thread and character neatly drawn together, and Jasper is a gem. It's not quite up to the finale of The Grand Sophy, but not far off it.

Anyone who has not read the letter to GH from the Romanian political prisoner who had memorised Friday's Child really should try to do so (it's certainly in the Jane Aiken Hodge biog and possibly in the more recent one). I have a heart of flint but it makes me snivel every time.

thewhistler Wed 21-Nov-12 21:21:43

Worth at the end is good news except for his complete callousness towards the fate of the impoverished lower classes.

Can I start a digression, please? Just that I suddenly have thought that there cools be a thesis in dogs in GH novels.

Pug has a small but not unimportant role. Flurry is essential. So is the mongrel in Arabella and the Romanian mousehound or whatever he is in Frederica. Sophy's whippet Tina is a non event, really, though she likes Charles so we know he is Good and Eugenia who doesn't like dogs is Bad.

Whom have I left out?

No cats. Ever. One monkey only, I think..

MooncupGoddess Wed 21-Nov-12 21:26:21

Aubrey's dog Bess in Venetia, who scares the browbeaten pregnant Charlotte. Charlotte's ghastly mother tells Aubrey he doesn't understand Charlotte's Delicate Condition -to which Aubrey replies that he understands perfectly, as Bess is in the same condition herself. V. funny scene.

thewhistler Wed 21-Nov-12 21:51:25

Ooh yes, Mooncup, and Venetia saying that she does hope Charlotte will get used to dogs as she will have to cope with the older brother's badly trained dogs.

And of course Tina is the means if getting Charles to realise how awful Eugenia will be in old age.

MooncupGoddess Wed 21-Nov-12 21:53:47

Oh and Bouncer in The Reluctant Widow, who is insanely over-excitable and prevents Elinor leaving the drawing room for several hours on one occasion. Also plays a valuable plot role.

thewhistler Wed 21-Nov-12 21:57:08

How could I have forgotten Bouncer? He is wondrous.

There is of course the real Poodle Byng.

Root99 Wed 21-Nov-12 22:08:07

Had to post since I just finished this today. I found a copy of it while we were clearing out my Grandad's house and it's inscribed by my great grandmother! She wrote in it 'I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. Please return to' etc.
Anyway slight digression. I think Sherry's too immature for a romantic hero but I also love the scenes with him and his friends and how they protect Hero.

Have been rereading the beginning and can't believe how obvious it is that Bella is head over heels with George. slaps self

Still like neither of them.

I love Sherry in full-on strop mode in Bath, still constrained by honour and convention and having to call Hero "Miss Wantage".

<shivers>

I think Sherry is the only GH hero who actually follows through on a threat to strike the heroine ("You may take that with my compliments!") at which point we hiss LEAVE THE BASTARD so he is available to me.

LeonieDeSainteVire Wed 21-Nov-12 23:00:20

I do think there's a fairly obvious code of dogs (and dog lovers) good, no dogs bad, in quite a few novels.

I love this book, it's very, very funny in places and sad too. I actually cried rereading it this time when Hero runs away from Sherry and turns up at Gil's with the canary. Absolutely the funniest scenes are the first part of the book, Hero hiding under a blanket clinging to Sherry's leg, the horror that George should be acquainted with a bishop and the discussion about Shakespeare and where Hero's name is from, all have me giggling.

I like George and Isabella, they are far more fully rounded than the secondary couple usually are and I don't hugely warm to Sherry or Hero, he behaves like an arse most of the book and she just laps it up. However I think they're well suited in the end.

Sherry's just so selfish and thoughtless initially, but I agree with LadyD, I don't take that early scene to mean he knows how Hero feels beyond understanding that she is viewing him as a knight in shining armour come to rescue her. The bit where his arrogance and selfishness really comes out is when George takes Hero to Almacks because Sherry has forgotten and then tries to join them later but it is after 11! After they've made up and go up to bed it would clearly be the right place for a kiss and cuddle and what does Sherry say? That she was a good little puss and he had always had a fondness for her hmm shock I think his 'transformation' throughout the book is well done, taking responsibility for Hero makes him grow up and GH shows the change well, beginning with his falling out with Revesby and then the argument when he finds out about the race.
"Well, it is my fault," he replied "I should never have married you as I did. If I had not been such a rattlepated fool I should have known . . . The thing is you were never fit to be cast upon the town with no one but me to tell you how to go on."
So that by the end you really can believe it when he says:
"I have come by my deserts . . . My folly - my neglect of her, my damnable brutality"
And so I do think they stand a fair chance of future happiness together and I want them to be happy.

But the supporting cast, as ever make this book, as everyone has said, Ferdy, Gil, Lady Saltash and poor Mr Tarleton (I quite fancy him actually).

I haven't read the letter from the political prisoner mentioned above, I shall go off to track it down.

LeonieDeSainteVire Wed 21-Nov-12 23:02:53

Horatia I forgot that. It's the second time he hits her too. I think it's meant to show how immature he is still treating her as if she's a little sister.

MooncupGoddess Wed 21-Nov-12 23:05:32

The other good thing about Friday's Child is the plot strand of Montagu Revesby and his seduction and abandonment of a local girl. Her turning up with the baby is really powerful; no doubt this sort of horrible behaviour and its consequences was very common at the time, but it is rare for GH to shine a light on the dark side of upper class life.

LadyDamerel Thu 22-Nov-12 06:10:15

I always thought the scene with Revesby and the baby/baby's mother, then Kitten and Sherry's subsequent rescue of her was to highlight what a Bad Man Revesby is, and to show Kitten's increasing influence over Sherry because it is she who persuades him to move the pair to the hunting lodge, isn't it?

Yes, and I think it shows her innate sense of fairness and honour.

She is still at that point vastly more mature than Sherry, but shows him how to grow up.

thewhistler Thu 22-Nov-12 08:55:32

Hey Horatia, you've been quoted in The Times today....fame..

thewhistler Thu 22-Nov-12 09:04:24

Yes, I agree that the revesby sub plot shows more of the mire than we have seen since Leonie's background. And with a lot of credibility too.

I love the horror of Sherry and George about the glee club. And everyone's teenage behaviour at the ball in Bath. And that hero knows what sherry's favourite food is. (One of the less appealing meals imv).

And Ferdie groping for the name of Nemesis. Came across them at Eton.

Yes I do laugh. And the minor characters are brilliant. I just don't like Sherry enough and save in the scene you mention, Leonie, Hero has never tugged at my heart strings.

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