The Unknown Ajax: Georgette Heyer Book Club 26

(55 Posts)

I said I'd start Ajax to show why I think it's streets ahead of Venetia.

It succeeds on every level - classic silly "family secrets" romp with secret passages; arranged marriage that turns out to be a perfect fit; tall man pretending to be thicker/rougher than he is; crazy extended family with easily recognised characters; solid historical accuracy without oppressive historical-lecturing.

And we get a glimpse of the rigid class structure, which we obviously recognise in GH's other novels, but is so rarely openly discussed.

In fact, the novel starts from the servants' perspective. This is highly unusual for GH, and sets us off immediately with the idea of class and rank. In other novels we quibble about ranks of earls v viscounts (there is a touch of this with the absolutely delicious Lady Aurelia) but here we are looking at marrying outside the upper classes for the first time. We will later forgive Jenny for being a Cit, but only because she is stinking rich and UMC really. The idea of a "weaver's brat" being marriageable, rather than disposable (see eg Avon novels, and Claud's dalliances with the local girls), is horrifying to the wellborn set.

Anthea is in the mould of GH's mature heroines that we are now used to - we have left the teenagers behind and now have women with personality and maturity. She has tact and passion in one - which is why she is a far more interesting character than Venetia. I never knew Venetia: we know Anthea as soon as we meet her. She is in an intolerable position, but knocks sparks off the other characters, much to her poor mother's horror.

It's unusual for us to encounter the parents of our hero and heroine, and we've remarked on this before. They are usually dead, or at least absent, and if they aren't they're hopeless. Poor Mrs Darracott is the latter and in all honesty I'm not quite sure what she adds to the story except for giving Anthea someone to talk to. In other novels she would be the governess/companion (eg Miss Beccles in Sylvester performs this role).

Richmond fills another familiar role - the army-mad teenager. We know that he is his grandfather's favourite, and his "delicacy" (contrasting very starkly with Aubrey) is interesting too. A very useful cover for nipping out in the middle of the night, certainly. I love the story early on about his being dragged off a spirited horse as a small boy and earning his grandfather's respect - sounds absolutely typical for Lord Darracott and many generations of grandfathers before and after him! ^"In any event, when Grandpapa said he would never let me be a soldier, I didn't care about anything any more! You wouldn't understand. It doesn't signify." Typical thwarted teenager, eh?!

Do we feel sorry for Vincent? He is rather like Kitty's Jack - dashing but not quite the thing, and of course simply not rich enough. I don't think GH is being cynical when she does this, but it is a fact that she doesn't present us with financially unequal matches unless it is the woman who is penniless. Vincent is poorer than Claud, which is unfair really, and is utterly horrified to find that he's poorer than Hugo too.

Hugo's reception is utterly hilarious, and the way he plays up to their preconceptions of him is just delicious. GH's humour absolutely twinkles in this book, and I love that Anthea doesn't clock that nearly everything he's said has been a white lie, given how quickly she rumbles him on his upbringing (school, accent, etc) and how often he slips between dialects. She's so horrified by his wealth, for example, and doesn't want to believe it.

"That needn't trouble you! I will engage to make it very plain to all that I refused your obliging offer! As for people saying you had behaved shabbily, what, pray, do you think they would say of me, if I married you? Vincent thinks I knew the truth from the start and set my cap at you, just because I wished to be wealthy. And I don't!" declared Miss Darracott, much agitated. [She] angrily dried her eyes, and informed him, in a slightly husky voice, that she never cried but when she was enraged.

While I'm on Yorkshireness, I've been annoyed in previous books by the over-dialect-ification of servants, but here it's a genuine plot device. We have to see John Joseph being deeply deeply Yorkshire to show where Hugo gets his inspiration:

"Mester Hugo! If t'gaffer could hear thee -!"
"I'd get a bang on the lug. But -"
"Sneck up!" commanded his henchman. "Here comes his lordship, and Mester Richmond. I mun fettle t'tits."

I came to Ajax having been on a Downton thread and chuckled slightly at the idea that Julian Fellowes might have used Ajax as his inspiration for the "drown the heir in a shipwreck and get an unknown oik in as the heir" device grin Can't you hear first-series Robert Crawley saying:

"I hoped he'd be dead, chucklehead, or that there might be some way of keeping him out of my shoes! [...] Well, he's not dead, and there's no way of keeping him out! When I'm booked, he'll be head of the family, but I'm not booked yet, and by God I'll see to it he's licked into shape before I get notice to quit!"

Unlike many of the other not-London novels, a lot happens (^Reluctant Widow^, which is in many ways very similar, being a notable exception). In earlier novels GH really pushes London as the centre of the universe and rusticating as dull. We hear this opinion repeated by Richmond and Vincent in particular - Vincent is only staying because he is short of cash - but this is one of our first sights of the country as a busy, managed place. This will be shown to a greater extent in Civil Contract because presumably GH had got the farming bit between her teeth by then!

GH has a thing for big men, doesn't she? Don't we all, thinks Horry, looking at Rule who causes double-takes in the street by being such a giant. It's Mrs Darracott who reminds us of this prejudice: "Oh what a comfort it is to one to have a creature like Hugo to turn to! Say what you will, my love, there is something about very big, quiet men!"

... and I've got this far scarcely touching on the actual romance! That's how dense and interesting the novel is. That said, it's credible. They start off by thinking each other nothing special, but as they are forced into each other's company they realise how much they have in common and in the end can't do without each other. It's a realistic, mature match and a loving one, unlike the hysterics of the earlier novels. It's how real people actually fall in love. I adore it.

The smuggling plot is just fun. We need it to give shape to the story, but it doesn't force it. Lady Aurelia is obviously completely stunning in her part of it. What a woman. I love that she finds the whole thing completely beneath her notice but still rises to the occasion and saves the day, even managing to hold her calm to be a little patronising by the end:

"You have no need to blush, my dear Hugo. I do not mean to flatter you, and will only say that I have from the beginning of our acquaintance believed you to be a most estimable young man. I have little doubt that when you have overcome your tendency to levity you will do very well at Darracott Place."

By the way, I am hoping to be able to NC during the course of this thread ::glares at overdue bump:: but anyone who has read Convenient Marriage will still know it's me grin

HowGoodIsThat Tue 05-Nov-13 22:15:48

<applauds Horry and marks place>

Pachacuti Tue 05-Nov-13 23:49:43

<ditto>

crumpet Wed 06-Nov-13 01:48:56

Poor heroic Claud is a delight, and I feel sorry for the officer every time.

I have to say that I don't warm to Anthea at the beginning, but each time I read the book she grows on me as the story progresses. In contrast, Hugo is a solid (in both senses!) character from the moment of his arrival.

I love poor heroic Claude! I find this one really genuinely funny ( also the grand sophy and frederica), although the romance isn't my favourite one. Need to reread to catch up now!

MooncupGoddess Thu 07-Nov-13 16:43:12

Fantastic opening post, Horry, especially considering that you wrote it practically, er, in the straw.

V. interesting points about class. Is Hugo the first hero/heroine to have one parent from a non-U background?

I love the way GH portrays Vincent's gradual but convincing development, as he sees Hugo achieve what he couldn't and realises the flaws in his assumptions. In fact one can almost imagine Vincent as a future hero being further humanised by a lively heroine.

Mrs Darracott adds a touch of warmth to the household, I think; without her it would be a bleak place and Anthea would be horribly isolated. Her devotion to Hugo is also amusing (he is exactly the sort of chap to make middle-aged women go all wibbly).

Ooh a sequel with Vincent in London finding a nice girl to knock the rest of his rough edges off would be lovely.

But he's too poor, so we'd never get one wink

Louise1956 Thu 07-Nov-13 17:11:25

Hugo is Heyer's most attractive hero I think. he is a delightful personality.

MooncupGoddess Thu 07-Nov-13 17:12:22

Ha, it's true. He needs a rich godfather to die suddenly (one of Lady Aurelia's relatives?) to make him eligible.

HowGoodIsThat Fri 08-Nov-13 08:08:55

"practically, er, in the straw"

I just spat coffee into the keyboard. It reminded me of a very florid man in a pub who asked me if I was "in calf" when pg with DD1.

"Is Hugo the first hero/heroine to have one parent from a non-U background?"

Interesting - I hadn't thought much about the Industrial Revolution knocking on the door of the upper classes. There are the Chawleighs in A Civil COntract, of course, but I am struggling to think of anyone else.

Mrs Darracott is vital because without her, Anthea becomes a figure of pity, rather more like Cousin Kate, and her role in the book changes. WIth Mrs Darracott in place, there is still a stable family unit despite the tyrannical patriarch and ANthea is independent but in a non-needy way. It gives her the position of equality from which to deal with Hugo rather than as an impoverished dependant.

I can't think of a duff character in this one - other than perhaps the aged butler - reading them in this order has really helped to see how each of her character types has been worked on and improved - the ardent adolescent, the imposing matriarch, the fop, the rake - but in Ajax, each of these has a twist that is new. So the rake is flawed, the fop is warm-hearted, the matriarch is wise.

I do love Hugo but with a steadier heart than Damerel. Hugo is funny and the scene when he teases Anthea about buying her tiaras and the moon is hilarious and touching. Like Venetia, the romance arises from humour and shared moments, rather than pulse-racing physical attraction.

Anthea is akin to Venetia, and I won't hear otherwise Horry. She has an astringent quality that Venetia lacks but otherwise are very similar - self-contained, wryly aware of others foibles and acutely conscious of their own position as single women with limited opportunities.

The plot works in this one - where the missing necklace scenario is never anything less than tedious, the smuggling story line has sufficient bite and tension. The final whirlwind denouement has moments of real drama as well as comedy and GH packs a lot into those final scenes - the crumbling of Lord Darracott, the perspicacity of Lady Aurelia, the heroism of Claude not to mention Hugo's masterly staff work. It is the plot that takes it in a different direction to Venetia and perhaps why the Venetia-detractors prefer it?

Very good point about Mrs Darracott. I am convinced.

Pachacuti Fri 08-Nov-13 14:28:30

Anthea is still in a very precarious position, of course. With her grandfather alive she has status and a home, but (hypothetically, obviously not as it turns out) when her grandfather dies she and her mother would be without a home and would presumably only whatever small fortune her mother brought into the marriage to live on (plus possibly a small bequest from whatever non-entailed assets her grandfather has left to leave). You could easily see their becoming like Mrs and Miss Bates in Austen's Emma , or doing the round of family as poor relations to be pitied.

The spectre of money hangs over a lot of the cast of Ajax , in fact . The only people who have any, by the standards of their class, are Hugo and Claud, and most of the other characters are constrained by it in one way or another.

It also occurred to me recently how limited Anthea's lot is, in spite of HowGoodIsThat's sensible assessment above. There don't seem to be any other households of status nearby, and the Darracotts don't entertain (it seems relatively unlikely that they ever did). There's every chance that Anthea's barely set eyes on another person who isn't a servant or closely related to her since the end of her one London season; she appears to have no friends and her only normal social interaction is with her grandfather, mother and brother, with occasional incursions by her cousins. She really needs a friend and it's in that role that she first opens up to Hugo.

MooncupGoddess Fri 08-Nov-13 14:31:51

Yes, it's a very insular household, isn't it - very different from those in The Quiet Gentleman, The Nonesuch etc where there are often people dropping in or visiting. One would imagine there would have been other gentry around Rye with whom the Darracotts could socialise, but I guess it would be difficult for Anthea and Mrs Darracott to initiate this if they can't invite people back.

Pachacuti Fri 08-Nov-13 14:39:01

Vincent is a nicer person than Jack, I think. Jack will remain odiously selfish his whole life but Vincent shows some promise and has learned a good deal in the course of the book. Yes, we definitely need a sequel in which he comes into a respectable sum of money and is Redeemed By The Love Of A Good Woman (in fact I once read a fairly poor piece of fanfiction along those lines, so we're clearly not the only ones who think so).

There's a bit where she asks Hugo, with his greater knowledge of the world, whether Richmond's life is normal, because she suspects it isn't. She sees that her cousins have a wider life than he does, but she doesn't have the life experience to know which of them is normal.

None of them.

I think Jack will get worse. He will get eaten up inside and turn into an alcoholic.

<gavel>

Pachacuti Fri 08-Nov-13 14:44:26

Jack's a bit of a bastard, really, whereas Vincent is just a bit selfish, short of cash and surrounded by people who aren't as bright as he is. Hugo will be very good for him even if he doesn't happen upon the right woman.

Pachacuti Fri 08-Nov-13 14:46:05

You can't see Vincent doing half the stuff Jack does in Cotillion . He'd probably have turned up and proposed to Kitty as ordered, to begin with.

clumber Fri 08-Nov-13 19:11:31

Lurker here, I am enjoying this lady's postings.

www.tor.com/blogs/2012/06/welcome-to-the-georgette-heyer-reread

Great link!

Now stop lurking and tell us what you think of Hugo wink

Pachacuti Fri 08-Nov-13 21:15:20

I disagree with her assertion that Ottershaw is "ruined" -- on the contrary, Hugo has a great regard for his abilities, bears him no ill-will and will probably put in a good word for him whenever the opportunity arises. If the Darracotts were actually to kick up a stink about the shooting of Claud then, sure, it wouldn't be good for his career. But they won't.

clumber Fri 08-Nov-13 21:22:37

Love the book, the final scenes would make great theatre. Think the plot is one of Heyer's best, but the romance
lacks passion.

Prefer heroes to show some emotional growth like Damerel or Alverstoke, although suppose Hugo does gain a sense of family loyalty.

Pachacuti Fri 08-Nov-13 22:01:11

I think this is one where other people (chiefly Vincent, but some of the others too) show emotional growth around the hero.

ancientbuchanan Sat 09-Nov-13 17:39:08

I disagree with Horry on Venetia, both book and person, because I love Venetia, an intellectual and business woman who makes friends with Damerel as well as loving him. She has to make the book, not the events in the book. I find it delightfully reflective.

I quite enjoy this one, but it is for specific episodes, not the whole book. The ending is a triumph, as well plotted as TGS. And yes, Lady Aurelia, ( is it Aurelia, again, so soon? ) is wonderful.. I enjoy the horror of Harrow, the moon episode. And that when we first see her Anthea's fingers are all thumbs, with which I sympathize.

But I dislike the animosity between the family, Vincent's bitterness and Anthea's desperation. The undercurrents are pretty unpleasant. And whilst this is perhaps truer to life, I'm not sure it is than eg ACC, or indeed V. The nice thing about V is that she can remove herself from Mrs Scorrier, because she has her own fortune, and live an ndependent life even if not in society. Anthea has no realistic prospects at all.

Vincent I find less charming but fundamentally a better person than Jack. Jack will die in a sponging house of syphilis quite soon. Vincent might find someone like his mother , wealthy.and with status enough for his bitterness to disappear.

Richmond is dull. Ok, alright depiction if teenager, but having had Aubrey, no comparison. He just flounces..

Hugo I also find dull, which is unjust. He is, underneath, the reverse. But I don't think that she lets this out nearly soon enough and it us very uneven. I would like to see more of Hugo's thinking. When she does, the book takes flight.

And I get so bored by the Yorkshire. It's not done well..
As on anothet thread, many many congrats, Horry, or another Drelincourt.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Sun 10-Nov-13 09:41:35

I was also taken by the similarities to the plot of Downton Abbey series 1. Like DA, I think Ajax has an obvious flaw (unlike DA, its only one) in the fact that the dead heirs are pure cardboard plot devices. We've had some lovely unseen characters in Venetia - the plot is largely driven by the personalities and actions of her dead father and absent brother, but Oliver (?) and his father are total cyphers, and, more damagingly, their recent deaths leave no mark on the rest of the household. Anthea reminiscences about their childhood games with not a hint of distress. We don't know what the heir would have done about the management of the land, or Richmond's army career. Structurally it's not a problem but emotionally I think it is.

But I do love it, and will rave more in a later post.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Sun 10-Nov-13 10:00:44

On the subject of Heyer protagonists with non-U parents, the one that comes to mind is Mary Challoner in Devil's Cub - which is where we see the development of Heyer's writing, because as I remember it, Mrs Challoner is vulgar because she is a Cit, and that's the limit of her character.

IHadADreamThatWasNotAllADream Sun 10-Nov-13 10:36:45

Just read Clumber's link, and whilst it's OK I disagree with her about Ottershaw. While I was rereading, remembering broadly what was going to happen in the denouement, I feared that he'd end up disgraced and sacked, but when it came to it Heyer gives Hugo a page-long speech - far too long to retype on my phone, explaining that Ottershaw did cockup in his handling of the matter and deserves a bit of a setback, but that Hugo will enable the whole affair to be brushed over without any problem.

She also takes Hugo's statement that he knows nothing about wool at face value, when it's clearly self-deprecating - Hugo has clearly been studying diligently for his role as sleeping partner at the mill, because that's the sort of person he is.

And she misstates the nature of Hugo's financial rescue of the estate - he won't be "propping it up" - he'll be injecting a one-off sum to enable repairs to be made to restore it to the fundamentally profit-making enterprise it should be, much as Matthew Crawley does with Lavinia's money when Lord Grantham pisses the funds up the wall. Honestly, do we expect Lady Edith to be caught in a smuggling racket next? Bates and Thomas to be stealing each other's boot-blacking recipes?

LadyIsabellaWrotham Sun 10-Nov-13 10:37:07

Just read Clumber's link, and whilst it's OK I disagree with her about Ottershaw. While I was rereading, remembering broadly what was going to happen in the denouement, I feared that he'd end up disgraced and sacked, but when it came to it Heyer gives Hugo a page-long speech - far too long to retype on my phone, explaining that Ottershaw did cockup in his handling of the matter and deserves a bit of a setback, but that Hugo will enable the whole affair to be brushed over without any problem.

She also takes Hugo's statement that he knows nothing about wool at face value, when it's clearly self-deprecating - Hugo has clearly been studying diligently for his role as sleeping partner at the mill, because that's the sort of person he is.

And she misstates the nature of Hugo's financial rescue of the estate - he won't be "propping it up" - he'll be injecting a one-off sum to enable repairs to be made to restore it to the fundamentally profit-making enterprise it should be, much as Matthew Crawley does with Lavinia's money when Lord Grantham pisses the funds up the wall. Honestly, do we expect Lady Edith to be caught in a smuggling racket next? Bates and Thomas to be stealing each other's boot-blacking recipes?

LadyIsabellaWrotham Sun 10-Nov-13 10:38:31

Bugger - not quite quick enough with the namechange

Pachacuti Sun 10-Nov-13 10:45:50

I don't think they are total cyphers; we hear quite a few things about them that makes it clear that Granville and his father disliked each other and that when he was living at Darracott Place there were constant blazing arguments (Anthea twice expresses the opinion that the place is much improved now that Granville isn't around to argue with Lord Darracott, and Mrs Darracott has a similar thought at one point), and that Lord Darracott didn't much care for Oliver either. Oliver was "always getting into trouble", "expensive" and a "loose fish" and would come home steaming drunk. We are also, I think tellingly, told that the local people didn't like Granville, while they had liked Hugo's father. Lord Darracott (generally a stickler for correct dress) is strongly opposed to anyone's going into mourning for Granville and Oliver.

We don't know what Granville would have done about Richmond's army career, but we do know that he's bitter about Lord Darracott's preference for Richmond, and there's no particular reason to expect Lord Darracott to die any time soon; the expectation in the normal run of things would be that by the time his grandfather dies Richmond would be too old for a military career anyway. We are, however, told that his wife would have had Anthea for an extended visit when her own daughters were married off, had Granville's death not intervened.

There's certainly not much about them beyond that, but then we also hear very little about Granville's widow and two (living) daughters, and the Darracott aunts (Mary, Sarah and Caroline, the sisters of Granville, Hugh, Matthew and Rupert) are IIRC only referenced once in passing by Anthea and no one appears to give them any thought. I think it may be a deliberate artistic decision, to portray Darracott Place as an isolated and insular small community that most of its inhabitants would love to leave and never return. I was certainly left with the impression that Granville and Oliver weren't much liked by anyone and weren't particularly missed.

Maryz Sun 10-Nov-13 10:57:57

Oh, I'm going straight back to read this one.

If it hasn't fallen apart, most of them have.

I know I'm late to these, but what is next so I can order it - I've recently found a secondhand place that will send to Ireland.

Pachacuti Sun 10-Nov-13 10:59:54

A Civil Contract is next, followed by The Nonesuch

Pachacuti Sun 10-Nov-13 11:03:43

I'm not sure it's entirely clear where Granville and Oliver were living at the time of their deaths; Granville clearly had his own establishment of some sort if his wife were planning to invite Anthea to visit, but at the same time his wife has gone to live with her married daughter and it's suggested that she had a choice between that and Darracott Place. Perhaps Granville just used to rent a London house for the Season and that's where Anthea would have been invited? But then who was paying for that?

LadyIsabellaWrotham Sun 10-Nov-13 11:09:56

Excellent textual work pachacuti. I obviously didn't take in quite how much Granville and Oliver stuff is in there - it' clearly is there but I didn't feel it for whatever reason.

Maryz Sun 10-Nov-13 11:11:14

Thanks Pacha.

I'm gutted I missed Venetia - it's my favourite. That and Frederica.

Pachacuti Sun 10-Nov-13 11:41:19

You can always go back and contribute to spark off the discussion again. I missed everything from The Toll Gate to Venetia because for some reason Cotillion dropped off my Threads I'm On and I just thought it had all gone very quiet... blush

Maryz Sun 10-Nov-13 12:19:52

I'm going to have to go and peer in the back of my bookshelves. All my GHs are ones I have had since I was a child (so 40 years old or so) and are literally falling to pieces. I had to throw out a few some years ago, because they were missing large chunks, including a lot of final pages.

So I think I'll order the ones you are going to talk about second hand, and build up a collection that way. Are you following a list?

LadyIsabellaWrotham Sun 10-Nov-13 12:32:33

We're doing publication order Maryz (with the exception of a few at the beginning which were part of a loose series). As per the list in her Wikipedia entry.

I have the same problem as you with some of my Heyers. They almost all came second hand in a job lot from a hospice shop twenty years ago so I had to replace a couple of them for this exercise because they were shedding pages like a forest in the St Jude Storm. I thought that my Ajax copy was battered but serviceable right up until it stopped abruptly about one page from the end sad. I'm still waiting for the post to deliver the replacement so I can find out the actual ending.

ancientbuchanan Sun 10-Nov-13 13:41:31

Mrs Challoner is prepared to sell her daughters into prostitution, just as Olivia's mother is.

I think it's the vastness of the endings that is really spectacular, although ( being unlettered) I don't recognise Anthea's quotation. Because you know that they have recognised each other half way through, there is no equivalent love tension as there is in TGS. So the question is, how is the book going to find s resolution? Hugo rescuing Richmond is the answer, and being recognised fully by his grandfather. Anthea is just a bit part player. It's a v different balance from most of the others. And it works. For me, it's as good as the end of Friday's Child, where I love the ripples of laughter supplied by Nemesis. And Eugenia ministering to another man in a bedroom in TGS. V clever to achieve it without the lovr interest.

Maryz, if you gp back to Venetia , lots of us will follow. It's my favourite along with TOS and Frederica. It's as mellow as the autumn it begins with.

ancientbuchanan Sun 10-Nov-13 13:50:49

Tautness, not vastness. Predictive text on phone..

Pachacuti Sun 10-Nov-13 17:36:25

So you missed the bit with the alien spacecraft, then, LadyIsabella?

Pachacuti Sun 10-Nov-13 17:56:53

It's what Agammemnon says to Ajax in Troilus and Cressida , ancientbuchanan (Vincent's repeated quotes to Richmond, Anthea and Hugo himself come from the same play). In Greek mythology Ajax (a cousin of Achilles) was supposed to be unusually large, and in Shakespeare's play (although not so much in the original sources) he's portrayed as a bit dim.

ancientbuchanan Sun 10-Nov-13 22:20:53

Ah, thanks. Yup, I knew the lliad but always hated that play and avoided it in three years of eng lit. Will go and reread.

Pachacuti Mon 11-Nov-13 10:39:51

Well, obviously I have the whole play memorised... or, alternatively, I Googled it once after a previous read of Ajax grin.

andthepiggotupandslowlywalkeda Tue 12-Nov-13 19:10:37

I've read through the previous threads as you've gone through, and have enjoyed them hugely, and now I finally have thought of something to say!

I'm not often too fussed about the plots in GH books, but I do love reading them because of the lovely one liners and characterisations. For example, in Ajax, I am particularly taken with Lady Aurelia - we've already had the dynamics of her marriage to Matthew explained, but this sums up their relationship so beautifully for me.
"[Matthew] found her ladyship attired in a voluminous dressing-gown, reading a volume of sermons... She raised her eyes, and after a moment's dispassionate study of his face, placed a marker in her book, laid it down and dismissed the maid.
'Well, Matthew?'"

It's those little snips of wit that really lift her books out of the ordinary for me.

Also, Pachachuti, thanks for the source of all the references. I feel more intelligent already.

Sarsaparillajones Mon 18-Nov-13 20:18:26

Ooh just stumbled across the virtual Heyerdahl book club and v sad I've missed nearly all the good books!

Anyone else think Hugo is similar to Jack in the Tollgate ? Both pretending to be a a class below where they actually are, both HUGE and giving the impression of dimness with much smarts 'hidden' beneath?

DameDeepRedBetty Mon 18-Nov-13 20:44:42

placemark so I don't lose this again!

yy to Sarsaparilla. The Tollgate is one of my favourites, and the ending of the crime theme is a very close relative of Hugo's manipulation of poor Ottershaw.

VikingLady Sat 21-Dec-13 21:00:12

Does anyone know when A Civil Contract is starting?

DeckTheHallsWithBoughsOfHorry Sat 21-Dec-13 21:02:03

Have you finished reading? If so, start! I've only got as far as their telling Mr Chawleigh about Jenny's condition and her hilarious tantrum and a new thread would spur me on wink

DuPanettoneDuVinDuFromage Thu 26-Dec-13 23:57:21

May I join the club? I stumbled across one of the threads while struck down with flu a few weeks ago and since then have been reading Heyers whenever I can (before that, I had only read The Convenient Marriage) then catching up on the relevant thread. I've just finished black sheep and now can't find the review - clearly that's because you haven't reached it yet! So I'll wait until it comes up and then re-read it, because I loved it!

I know for a fact there are some more GHs waiting for me under the Christmas tree (we are away at the inlaws' over Christmas) and I can't wait to get started on them!

DeckTheHallsWithBoughsOfHorry Fri 27-Dec-13 00:22:38

The more the merrier! wine

DuPanettoneDuVinDuFromage Fri 27-Dec-13 09:07:22

Thanks Horry!

I have to defend Venetia which is one of my favourite Heyers - I love the redemption of the hero and that V is independently wealthy, no financial need to marry but an emotional need to find a friend and lover.

Unknown Ajax is unusual and I do enjoy it but not one of my top 10 and I'm not quite sure why. No emotional growth for the hero perhaps - he doesn't need to be rescued by Anthea.

LadyIsabellasHollyWreath Fri 27-Dec-13 11:54:07

I've finished reading Civil Contract, but I don't think I can start it off because I adore it more with each reading, so can only squee incoherent expressions of love until someone else has said something grown-up to prompt me to pull myself together.

DeckTheHallsWithBoughsOfHorry Fri 27-Dec-13 15:39:37

How about this then?

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