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?

Are you kidding? In what context? Women bishops, or sexy Richard Armitage?

Is Hero our youngest heroine at nearly-17? I can't think of a younger except Juana Smith who is too bloody young who doesn't count.

LeonieDeSainteVire Thu 22-Nov-12 10:45:12

Oh yes the Nemesis theme - especially at the end when Mr Tarleton tries to explain who she is smile and when Ferdy says something like 'thought it was after me, turns out it was after Monty, gave him that wisty castor' Absolutely love it!

Link to Horatia's quote please bet it wasn't about Mr Armitage

P7, and those BASTARDS [sic]ed me shock

"A yes vote would have gone a long way towards bringing me back to the Church ... but I won't be part of a community that thinks I'm not equal to a man."

My phone autocorrected a misspelling of that to "they", which the BASTARDS left in with a coy [sic]. BASTARDS. Do their work for them <grumble grumble>

secretly very proud

LeonieDeSainteVire Thu 22-Nov-12 15:03:28

How exciting Horatia, did they quote you by name? I think on the whole if you are going to appear in the national press it's probably better that it wasn't about Mr A wink

Yes, they quoted three MNetters by name in double quotes.

Part of me wonders if anyone will read it and think "I'm sure I know someone with that name" because of GH grin

RA might have read what I put and thought "that's the woman for me" and I'd have had to convince DH it was worth it for the sex money.

LadyDamerel Thu 22-Nov-12 20:53:47

grin @ people thinking you're someone they know, Horatia. Good comment, btw, I completely agree with you about Richard Arrmitage being the sexxiest thing on two legs and wanting to jump his bones the mysognistic tendencies of the church.

Leonie's met RA, fwiw. She didn't try to rugby tackle him to the floor and have her wicked way with him though, strange woman.

Leonie clearly has superhuman restraint. I'd be a hysterical mess - sexy.

Anyway, the book.

I love the wit. GH has really got into her stride here and there is lots only just unsaid. The lads get pissed and Sherry sends Hero off to bed just too late; Wrotham was a romantic figure, particularly when his black locks were dishevelled through his clutching them in despair^; when Dowager Lady Sheringham says ^If I could but see you married to Isabella, I could go in peace and Sherry, baffled, says Go where? [...] The Dower House?^; countless comic hangovers including Ferdy in Gil's dressing-gown; the Almack's patronesses championing Hero to annoy her MIL who they think is being catty; Hero and Sherry very properly separating while he has his port, then drifting back together; Jason's kleptomania, which is comic for 95% of the book then is a necessary and unforeseeable plot device right at the end, at which Hero declares that he is terribly clever and needs a present; Sherry unwittingly bursting in on the visiting Bagshots, shouting ^My God! and exiting again, leaving Hero in hoots of laughter; Hero and Isabella controlling George's violence with threats about his access to his beloved, the only thing that checks him; the failed duel where they are each annoyed at the other for not hurting him; Sherry's utter hypocrisy regarding not interfering with one another and wondering if mental illness ran in his family; the lads' contempt for Sherry's driving and shooting ability, making him incidentally the first hero I think who hasn't been a prize whip; George's sulks; comments like Mr Ringwood was back in town again [having taken Hero to Bath] saying, with perfect truth, that he saw no reason why his rich uncle should not survive for another ten years.

I can't believe I never before spotted the heavy hints that Gil is gay. I collected them this time. Every time GH mentions him he reminds us that he is no lady's man, and later Sherry says By God, if I were not so well acquainted with you, I might have a very fair notion of what your intentions were towards her, so I might.

I'm faintly bothered by Gil's complete transformation during the book - which GH does declare - inasmuch as at the beginning he is a bit feeble and like Pel Winwood's friend whose name escapes me, then in the second half he is a calm and clever plotter, relationship expert and marriage counsellor. Pur-lease.

The Hero quotation I mentioned upthread is Her experience of life not having engendered in Hero any expectation of having either her dignity or her comfort much regarded, she made no objection to this proposal.

Love it love it love it. Much tighter than the earlier novels. No spare characters. Lots of dramatic irony (is that what I mean? when the reader knows everything but none of the characters does). Not too many comedy accents - just comedy Jason.

And the last lines:

"Indeed, I wish it was - at least, I mean I wish it was mine, because it is the dearest thing!" A thought occurred to her; her eyes lit up; and she turned impulsively towards Sherry. "Oh Sherry, do you think -"

"Yes," said his lordship hastily. "Yes, I do, Kitten, but not now, for the Lord's sake!"

"Bad ton," explained Ferdy kindly. "Not quite the thing. [...] Talk it over later!"

"No, by God, you won't!" said his lordship forcibly.

"Eh?" said Ferdy. "Good heavens! No, by God, so I won't!"

I love GH closes!

Bugger it. Italics fail.

LadyDamerel Thu 22-Nov-12 22:47:39

There's so much subtle humour in this one.

This made me chuckle this morning, it's early in Ch4 when Ferdy and Gil have been out drinking and Ferdy has gone back to Gil's lodgings:

Whether from a natural disinclination to proceed further on his way, or from a hazy belief that he had reached his proper destination, he had entered the house, arm in arm with his friend, ambled towards the sofa, and stretched himself out upon it, wishing Mr Ringwood - for he was the soul of politeness - a very good night.

There's just so many small, inconsequential remarks like that, that keep me in a state of chuckling enjoyment right the way through.

Ferdy is priceless though. When Sherry is trying to explain to him how he told the hotel that Hero's abigail had broken her leg getting out of the chaise, in order to explain how she came to be travelling alone and it continues:

'Did she though?' said Ferdy, interested. 'Daresay she didn't wait for the steps to be let down. I had an aunt - well you remember her, Sherry! Aunt Charlotte, the one who-'

He's just fab. I'd like him to be my friend.

(Pelham's friend is Roland Pommeroy and yes, she has reincarnated and improved those two for Ferdy and Gil, imo)

Pom, of course.

Shame no spin-off for Gil's vivacious beard and Ferdy's equally ditsy missus.

I can dream...

DilysPrice Thu 22-Nov-12 23:34:03

Ooh yes, you could write some brilliant fanfic for Gil - who would you slash him with though? How about Venetia's brother (not portrayed as gay I know, but not definitely straight either, and there'd be an "opposites attract" thing.

I can't think of any good confirmed bachelors, but maybe one of the overly enthusuastic ladies' men could be in denial, like terrible Oirish bloke from twenty years before Faro's Daughter. A slash writer could write the most gawdawful fantastic slash about those two.

LadyDamerel Thu 22-Nov-12 23:39:06

Oh my word, the idea of gay fan porn fic with GH characters is just too bizarre to contemplate grin.

Who's Ferdy's ditsy missus or am I missing something?

thewhistler Fri 23-Nov-12 14:32:23

Aubrey isn't gay or straight, he is a completely asexual aspergers character. Knows all about the theory from every angle intellectually, the Bacchae included but also the gay Greeks, Socrates and Plato, Sappho etc, and has no interest in practice. ( ok, inventing the Plato and Sappho and Socrates, but not taking it too far because he has explained incest to his older sister, who would in any case have come across it in the cottages.)

I think the comment about Gil and if I didn't know you better could be about Gil being gay but ought to be read at that time as being about his sense of honour.
And it may be that Gil just visits prostitutes or is celibate, isn't necessarily gay. He just doesn't want to give up his nice comfy bachelorhood for nappies and boring female conversation.

That is the alternative reading. We could be over reading.

OTOH...

thewhistler Fri 23-Nov-12 14:35:50

Ps, I love the moment when they are working out why the poor girl's baby could not have been fathered before waterloo and they have to do some agonizing counting which leaves Hero perplexed.

Yes the arithmetic is brilliant. As is the bit where Hero vaguely remembers something about Shakespeare and has to fend off accusations of being a bluestocking.

Not an intellectual book. Hence Jasper's stifled hilarity at the end.

Sorry, LadyD, I was hypothesising that Mrs (Lady?) Ferdy would be equally thick, but lovely and jolly.

thewhistler Fri 23-Nov-12 20:27:47

She'd have to be posh and thick, as stupid as that girl who wants a purple silk dress. Are there any young posh thick girls? Cecilia isn't the brightest and nor is Serena's mother in law, but really stupid to equal Ferdie?

MooncupGoddess Fri 23-Nov-12 20:36:08

Hmm. Charis in Frederica would do, but of course she marries Endymion.

thewhistler Fri 23-Nov-12 20:39:58

Of course, Moon. She's not exactly jolly, though. A watering pot, if I recall.

Fortunate, isn't it, that usually there is reversion to the norm because otherwise one would be very very worried about their progeny.

I like someone fun - Susan Marlow? Credulous and excitable, and easily impressed by a dashing young man. Sufficiently high born too.

LadyDamerel Sun 25-Nov-12 10:20:24

I've just seen a poster called LadyIsabellaWrotham. Is that Dilys in a GH frock or just someone with similar tastes?!

VikingLady Sun 25-Nov-12 10:44:46

Loong time lurker on these threads, but have to post now - a radio dramatisation of FC is on BBC iPlayer! In full, not a series. It isn't too bad, though the actors all sound too old.

VikingLady Sun 25-Nov-12 10:45:05

*Long, obv, not Loong

LadyIsabellaWrotham Sun 25-Nov-12 10:57:58

<Waves, twirls, remains incognito>

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