April Lady: Georgette Heyer book club 23

(24 Posts)
LeonieDeSainteVire Sun 02-Jun-13 20:21:08

April Lady seems to be universally rather unpopular which surprises me as it's definitely one of my 'read again' novels. I like the characters, I get involved in their turmoil and happy when it's resolved. And that, surely, is the point of a good novel?

What interests me about this one is that we have the set up of much older, rich man about town marries very young, innocent girl repeated so many times in GH's novels but this is the only occasion in which we really see the marriage. I have always thought of this book as a rehash of The Convenient Marriage and to some extent it is but the motives behind the two marriages are different and that is why it is interesting.

Several books show us older man falling in love with young girl (The Corinithian, These Old Shades etc) but they end with the declaration of love. A couple show us what happens when these marriages sour or the young girl can't love the older man back (Bath Tangle, False Colours) but only April Lady shows us how it all goes wrong. The older man becomes disenchanted with his bride, her extravagance starts to annoy and his infatuation fades. It doesn't quite happen in April Lady but as readers we can clearly see how it could and I think GH probably thought quite a lot about these uneven marriages and their potential pitfalls. It is also one of the few books that is a portrait of a marriage.

So, Nell is pretty silly and irritating but she redeems herself by being honest and loyal and I think we can see why she behaves as she does. Cardross I just love, the experienced, sophisticated man made a fool of by love and consequently behaving like a stroppy and jealous adolescent. Neither of them are able to speak openly to each other about their feelings and if it weren't for Dysart as both the cause of the trouble and the engine of their reconciliation I think they would end up quietly becoming estranged.

Letty and Mr Allandale are the usual tedious second couple, Letty is even more irritating than the silly girl usually is and Mr Allandale deliberately comic but you can see how they developed from Neil and Amanda.

Dysart has a bit more depth than some of the brothers, we get more explanation of quite why he is so hedonistic and where he is going without intervention.

And of course there's a necklace plot - that bit I could do without!

So what do you think, a love story that explores several themes in more depth or just a poor copy of The Convenient Marriage?

MooncupGoddess Sun 02-Jun-13 21:27:15

Good intro, Leonie.

I agree the theme is a strong one, but for me GH's treatment lacks depth. Apart from the bloody necklace and Letty subplots hardly anything happens... not even the low-key but telling domestic developments of A Civil Contract. And Nell is so very immature and, honestly, dull that I find it very hard to care about her, or indeed any of the other characters.

I like the way GH portrays the less glamorous sides of high ton marriage, though... fretting about one's husband's liaisons with other women while having to pretend total ignorance, and worrying about not producing an heir.

Great intro, spoiled by blatant place marking.

Louise1956 Tue 04-Jun-13 22:31:11

I read it years ago but don't remember much about it, I don't think I cared much for the heroine, found her a bit insipid. I prefer her more spurited heroines, Miss Thane and Eustacie in The Talisman Ring are my favourites.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Wed 05-Jun-13 15:22:06

I don't disagree with anything you've said Leonie, but I still dislike it. I hate cross-purpose misunderstandings, and this one is just too close to the bone. I enjoy Letty and the (surely) gay cousin, who are much more what I read Heyer for, but something about Cardross and Nell's marital woes just depresses the hell out of me - more than any other of her books except Penhallow.

Cardross's charms escape me I must say - his humour only appears right at the end, and he spends most of the book stomping around being grumpy and frowning. And Nell is miserable throughout, which is not endearing.

LeonieDeSainteVire Wed 05-Jun-13 16:35:55

No, no Cardross is only grumpy because he is hurt - all that repressed emotion! Nell is only sad because she thinks she may have lost his love. Well it works for me anyway - I get all emotional reading it.

Cousin 100% definitely gay, GH practically says it. Something about not really liking ladies but needing to attach himself to one as a social convention so chooses Nell because she isnt interested. There's a term for that isnt there?

LadyIsabellaWrotham Wed 05-Jun-13 19:06:38

They may have perfectly good reasons for being mopey, Leonie, but it doesn't inspire me to want to spend time with them though.

LeonieDeSainteVire Wed 05-Jun-13 20:39:40

Oh well it would be boring if we all liked the same things wouldn't it? smile

VikingLady Wed 05-Jun-13 21:03:34

Nell is just so wet though! Cardross is pretty much in GH's usual style for the masterful older man, but I can't read this book without Nell driving me nuts.

Yes, she is one of the wetter heroines and I don't need to spend time in her head. But then, she's nobbut a bairn and Cardross is really playing mind-games with her so he deserves everything he gets, to be frank.
I just have an over-whelming urge to smack their heads together.

LeonieDeSainteVire Sun 09-Jun-13 18:49:44

Just me who likes it then! smile

Frawli Sun 09-Jun-13 20:29:49

I like it too! It was my first Heyer, which I read at my mum's suggestion after having read some Austen and wanting something of the same period, and I chose it because it was a slim book rather than a fat one!

Well Nell is a bit wet, and Cardross is a bit unlikeable but I still have a soft spot for this book and have reread it a few times. And although there have been similar characters but done better (A Convenient Marriage springs to mind immediately) I still like this. I think Nell is interesting amongst the heroines as usually they have a bit more oomph. Dysart is a fun character too.

I like it too (lots) but can't get to an actual computer to gush. Book reviews on elderly smartphone are Not Fun.

ArtemisatBrauron Sun 16-Jun-13 16:40:03

April annoys the hell out of me - give me Sophy from the Grand Sophy or Arabella any day. I like feisty heroines, not drippy weeping mops grin

ArtemisatBrauron Sun 16-Jun-13 16:41:08

argh meant to say 'the heroine in the April lady' also missing a comma in there somewhere.

sarahtigh Tue 18-Jun-13 16:22:04

in the context of the regency period rather than now, I do have some sympathy with cardross over Helen's spending and her gambling brother though engaging in reality would be a PITA the realtionship is painted quite well though it is not a frothy romance, Cardross is in love and thought Nell would be, he then thinks that he has perhaps been taken in by a golddigger and is rather disenchanted.

I suspect being open and honest about feelings and money was not the done thing and could result in a loss of face, Cardross can't really say I love you deeply but stop spending so much money and the bank of cardoss is shut to dysart now, I have had my fill of gamblers and the thought of you being a gambler too is really scary.

Nell really can't say either I love you deeply but I want to keep giving my brother (your) money and I forgot to tell you about the bills and do you still see your mistress? and if so I need you to stop because I want you all for myself so the misunderstandings continue Letty is annoying but why she wants to be with Allandale is a mystery

LadyIsabellaWrotham Tue 02-Jul-13 16:12:02

I think we're overdue for Sylvester now <excited>
Is everybody ready?
Any volunteers to start us off?

MooncupGoddess Tue 02-Jul-13 21:53:32

Oh, I love Sylvester. And then a joyous run of GH's greatest hits.

HowGoodIsThat Sun 07-Jul-13 21:44:09

Good oh!

<runs hands in anticipation>

<lifts cycling helmet>

Tis I, DuchessofAvon. In my Tour de France disguise. I will return in another GH guise once the cycling is finished.

EJbooklover Mon 08-Jul-13 19:55:26

Hi, I discovered your GH book group the other day and was gutted that I'd already missed the discussions on some of my most loved and reread books. Sylvester is probably my absolute favourite though and I would love to join in. I've just started rereading it again for the nth time and am captivated yet again. I have abandoned the (serious and intellectually challenging but not half as well written) novel I need to finish for my non virtual book group later inthe week and am currently snowed in with Phoebe, Tom and Salford at the Blue Boar!

LadyIsabellaWrotham Tue 09-Jul-13 07:58:50

Hallo EJ, lovely to meet you.

Hope you enjoyed our previous discussions anyway. We're going chronologically by order of publication - so that's Sylvester, Venetia, Civil Contract, Nonesuch, False Colours, Frederica, Black Sheep, Cousin Kate, Charity Girl, Lady of Quality. So you haven't missed all the good ones by any stretch of the imagination.

I finished Sylvester weeks ago and am now champing at the bit to get started. How's everyone else doing? If no other volunteers I might start it off this evening - would that be OK?

Yes please Isabella!

LadyIsabellaWrotham Tue 09-Jul-13 08:34:43

I have found actual lit crit to discuss, so will try to up my game to the high standards required of Starting Post.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Tue 09-Jul-13 22:10:03

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now