Sprig Muslin: Georgette Heyer book club 22

(19 Posts)
LeonieDeSainteVire Sun 02-Jun-13 21:12:09

<<blushes and simpers>>

Thank you Duchess! Well here it is. Apologies as I should have edited it somewhat but RL intervened as I wrote and so I posted in a hurry.

Really Leonie?

Well, your openers are unfailingly insightful, witty and thought-provoking but I doubt you'll turn me on this one.

<throws down gauntlet>

I really enjoyed rereading but am off on hols so can't contribute until next weekend.

MooncupGoddess Sun 02-Jun-13 18:48:29

The floor is yours, Leonie! I'll be interested to see what you think.

LeonieDeSainteVire Sat 01-Jun-13 22:40:29

Coming to this very late, mainly because I have nothing more to add. It's a bit of a nothing book, a filler if you like.

As noted the ending is good and the names (apart from Hester) are just terrible. The story is very contrived (I know they all are but this is particularly bad) and I don't believe in Gary and Hester's being in love. She is just too drippy. Amanda and Neil also unlikely, he's too old and sensible for her but GH must like the conceit as she's about to have a similar pair in April Lady with Letty and whatshisname!

Favourite book - Venetia without a doubt!

I do like April Lady though, am I alone? When do we start?

I read it, and realised why it doesn't stick out.

Amanda reminds me of Pen Creed, except that Piers is wet and Neil not. I'm also reminded of Juliana in Devil's Cub, whose fiance is advised by Vidal to treat her firmly to let her thrive. There's an underlying "women like to be told what to do, even the feisty ones" that jars with modern ideas of femininity!

I think the whole novel is sort of exploratory rehashes of various other books (as above, plus the Foundling, etc) and jolly fun but not as distinct as the originals.

I love all the books to come, even if April Lady makes me squirm. See you there.

Yowsers - that's a fab line up ahead of us. Goodie.

<overlooks APril Lady>

A good friend has just downloaded Black Moth for her Kindle - I guess it must be cheap - so I am looking forward to seeing if it is an adequate gateway....

MooncupGoddess Wed 22-May-13 22:30:09

I had a nice GH moment the other day. I was at an event and noticed an acquaintance reading very intently, oblivious to all around her. I looked to check what the book was (I am incorrigibly curious about what other people read) and saw to my great pleasure that it was The Unknown Ajax grin

Next we have April Lady, which I loathe - but then we can romp through Sylvester, Venetia, Unknown Ajax and Civil Contract.

MrsFrederickWentworth Sat 11-May-13 17:58:59

(Of course).

In terms of practicality I think Neal would be the most useful, as Freddie's undoubted skills do not strike me as being suited to desert islands. Yes Hugo would prob be the right person on a number of fronts.

In terms of which Book, I'm torn between These old shades, Venetia, and A civil contract.

Yes, the ending is excellent. I think The Grand Sophy is a triumph, though, and I am very fond of Venetia.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Sat 11-May-13 15:27:33

Oh, and I'd take Hugo Darracott to a desert island, he strikes me as capable, level headed, capable of fighting off man-eating tigers/cannibals and good fun.

That was what you meant wasn't it? MrsFW <innocent>

LadyIsabellaWrotham Sat 11-May-13 15:21:58

I think this one is beautifully judged. Gareth falling for Hester seems plausible, and the ludicrous conclusion with everyone turning up is perhaps my favourite Heyer Farce Finale (with the possible exception of Dolph hiding in the cupboard in Cotillion, and Unknown Ajax, which is as much drama as farce). Normally there is an outsider whose job it is to react with a normal level of amused/shocked disbelief at the madness, but in this case Hester is her own onlooker, constantly startled by what she's doing.

The boring clergyman is another Cousin Hugh from Cotillion. Both of them are relatives of Mr Collins from Pride & Prejudice; there to show the heroine rejecting a "reasonable" match and holding out for all or nothing at all, but unlike Mr Collins they're not total grotesques, they are genuinely acceptable husband material.

Hester of course takes it a step further when she refuses Gareth, by refusing the compromise Harriet, Jenny and Nell make, prefering a life alone to the torture of unrequited love within marriage. Mary refuses Vidal out of selfless motives, and I'm sure there must be other heroines who turn down the man they love because they feel inadequate, but only Hester does it to protect herself.

MrsFrederickWentworth Fri 10-May-13 12:22:33

I like Hester by the end when her sense of humour has been developed. She is certainly more intelligent than her brother..

Yes, maybe Sophie is the wrong comparison. Judith I'm never quite so sure about. Her judgment is so often wrong.

Yes, interesting foreshadowing. Sir Tristram is the other one who.never got over a youthful affair.

Which one ( only one) would you take to a desert island or a prison?

poorchurchmouse Thu 09-May-13 22:13:39

Oh dear: sorry for double post! On phone.

poorchurchmouse Thu 09-May-13 22:11:57

That's a very good point about the foreshadowing of the Adam/ Julia relationship in A Civil Contract (which is my absolute favourite of all her books).

This is definitely one where her gift for names deserted her. Gareth I can live with, but I hate Gary, and Neil is almost as bad. And the wet young man is on his way to Ludlow, which also happens to be Sir Gareth's surname.

I like Hester. And it must have been very difficult being shortsighted in Regency England if you were a young woman: presumably glasses would have been death to any chance of matrimony.

poorchurchmouse Thu 09-May-13 22:11:56

That's a very good point about the foreshadowing of the Adam/ Julia relationship in A Civil Contract (which is my absolute favourite of all her books).

This is definitely one where her gift for names deserted her. Gareth I can live with, but I hate Gary, and Neil is almost as bad. And the wet young man is on his way to Ludlow, which also happens to be Sir Gareth's surname.

I like Hester. And it must have been very difficult being shortsighted in Regency England if you were a young woman: presumably glasses would have been death to any chance of matrimony.

MooncupGoddess Thu 09-May-13 22:08:25

Good point re foreshadowing Adam and Julia, I hadn't thought of that.

Of course Damerel and Miles Calverleigh have also had youthful love affairs, though more played for laughs in those cases.

And the Gareth/Clarissa relationship foreshadows the Adam/Julia love affair in A Civil Contract - except in ACC, GH has the maturity to let the passion wither and die rather than being snuffed out in the excitement of the accident.

I don't see Clarissa as a Judith or a Sophie - they are headstrong but sensible. I think Clarissa is more a thwarted Serena or Babs Childe (if a timely intervention in the shape of Waterloo hadn't straightened her out).

Love your very good analysis of the reworking of the Foundling - and a bit of the Black Moth thrown in for the handiness of the hero's recuperation for providing opportunity for love.

MrsFrederickWentworth Wed 08-May-13 23:30:33

Excellent exposition.

I must reread. I am not very fond of it at all, in part for bad reasons (can't bear the name Gary which I find too modern, ditto Neal) in part because I find Amanda intensely annoying, and Hester's short sight becomes part if her drippiness which as a short sighted person I resent.

The reasons I enjoy it are:

The lights it shines on her other works, yes The Founding,

Clarissa is really just Judith or possibly Sophie, or a Neal less Amanda;

The hilarious episode with the old friend of Ludlow's father, who obviously looks like one of those bloated portraits

The fact that it is Hester's development rather than Gareth's that is interesting

That there is yet another awful clergyman and a pompous brother

And the wet young man becomes less wet.

it seems too episodic. But the individual scenes are ok, just not held together v well. On the other hand, it would make quite good tv.

Btw, I think Abigail is also 29.

MooncupGoddess Wed 08-May-13 22:34:32

I always feel that GH wrote Sprig Muslin to resolve some of the problems with The Foundling. The basic plots are almost identical: hero proposes to heroine who he's known for ages out of duty rather than love; heroine is miserable because she's loved him secretly for years (though Hester has the guts to turn Gareth down); hero goes on picaresque journey during which he encounters a beautiful girl on the run and a silly youth; complex plot muddle results which hero sorts out with help from heroine, in the process realising he's actually in love with her.

I don't think Sprig Muslin is one of GH's best novels by a long way, but it's much more successful than The Foundling. Crucially, the beautiful girl - Amanda - has masses of character and is much more convincing and appealing than the dumb Belinda. And the love story is properly developed; Hester and Gareth spend a lot of time together and we see Hester (GH's oldest heroine at a shockingly elderly 29) come into her own after many years as a slightly dotty spinster who's lost her self-belief as a result of having to live with her overbearing inlaws.

Gareth is one of the very few GH heroes or heroines to have had a previous serious romantic relationship - with the beautiful Clarissa, who died after taking Gareth's spirited horses out against his will. To my mind this adds an unusual depth to the book's back story, and GH exploits it well; at one point Hester mentions that Gareth used to talk to her about Clarissa when no one else would let him mention her name, and elsewhere, neatly moving the plot on, Gareth's brother-in-law comments that actually Clarissa was a bit of a nightmare and he's better off without her.

A few other things I like:

- the relationship between Gareth's sister and brother-in-law; one of GH's rare portrayals of an affectionate, down-to-earth marriage
- GH's depiction of the enormous danger that Amanda has put herself in by running away, and that she just doesn't understand, exemplified by the ghastly would-be rapist Fabian Theale
- the section at the inn where Gareth, Hester, Amanda and Hildebrand end up hanging out together while Gareth recovers, and the way their different relationships develop
- Neil, Amanda's stern fiance.

A few things I don't like:

- the shooting... it never quite feels convincing, though it does the job in narrative terms
- the clumsy section in which Mr Weatherby runs into Neil and invites him back for dinner
- the overall shape of the plot - it's just too baggy, somehow, without the shape and coherence of the better novels

... and try though I do I can never find Gareth and Hester's relationship entirely convincing. She is just too drifty and dippy. I like her but it's hard to see her as the object of passion. Am I being unfair?

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