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The Corinthian - Georgette Heyer book club #10

(44 Posts)
HoratiaWinwood Mon 08-Oct-12 12:24:15

I read this when we were supposed to be reading TSB and I am so glad I did.

All the classic Heyer themes - whodunnit, cross-dressing, comic secondary couple, male pinnacle of fashion, and of course two people desperately in love with one another but each believing themselves to be unworthy of the other.

I find the fact that Pen has to marry Richard rather sinister. I mean, obviously at the time you simply couldn't be away with a man without marrying him, but she is independently wealthy and ought, one would have hoped, to be above gossip. And in terms of life experience she is far younger than Megan Stammers, with a very similarly aged older man. I prefer GH later on with her adult heroines (eg Abby Wendover) because this problem is less sticky, but I recognise that in women of this class* spinsterhood was a burden.

* Speaking of which, we aren't told where Pen's money comes from. Melissa Brandon talks about being Richard's social equal - lots of guff about ancient families - but he goes instead for his intellectual and financial equal. Aunt Almeria is horrifically bourgeoise.

I particularly enjoy BIL George and BIL2B Cedric. GH writes the kind and rich but thick and idle man well. Cedric is reminiscent of Pelham Winwood who also amused us although he would be infuriating in real life. Teenage cousin Frederick (with a face like a hake lol) is good value when he is hero-worshipping Richard, but he is dumped from the story rapidly.

Do we feel sorry for Melissa Brandon? we are deliberately shown that she doesn't love Richard and is only considering him for convenience. Will Saar be better off once Cedric goes to be an officer (I am sure Richard will oblige in the end) and Beverly isn't alive to spend any more money?

There are some bits I particularly wanted to quote but kindle is charging. Most of them are comic descriptions of Richard's hangover iirc...

MooncupGoddess Mon 08-Oct-12 13:40:57

I love The Corinthian, it is v funny and cleverly put together. I am particularly fond of Richard's effortless ability to thwart Jimmy Yarde's dodgy endeavours. Pen is very affectionately drawn and the scenes with her and Piers' dim fiancee (whose name escapes me for the moment) are hilarious. Incidentally, are Piers and the dim fiancee the only couple in GH to reach Gretna Green - or at least not to be dragged/turn back before the end of the book? I can think of lots of attempted elopements but no other ones that actually come to fruition.

The Corinthian does feel a bit light, compared to the other classic Regency novels; I suspect this is related to the recent outbreak of WW2 and/or the fact that GH must have been worn out after The Spanish Bride.

Also, I find it really hard to believe in the love story - Pen is so young, as Horatia says, and because we only see her dressed as a boy it's really hard to imagine her as a grown woman who could love and be loved.

Interesting point re Pen's money, Horatia, I had never spotted that! Usually GH is very keen to stress her protagonists' good breeding (except Jenny in A Civil Contract where of course her low birth is a major plot theme) but maybe she has started to relax a bit by this point. When rereading These Old Shades recently I was unpleasantly struck by the obsession with noble blood, how one can always tell, etc, but of course The Corinthian is 15 years later and GH has matured a lot.

thewhistler Mon 08-Oct-12 21:43:47

The awful Lydia and her lovebirds. I can never quite believe Piers is so lost to propriety that he does elope, as he seems a very proper young man.

I am v fond of The Corinthian, although I really only put up with the sub plot for the sake of Cedric and Richard's light sleeping.

Pen I think is great. And no, she would completely have lost her reputation. With a bourgeois aunt she would have had to be married off to the highest bidder or the unspeakable cousin.

I enjoy Richard proving what a vulgar lying toad Melissa is. She seems also to be the forerunner of Eugenia in The Grand Sophy, but with an even less kind heart.

deleted203 Tue 09-Oct-12 01:25:31

I love Georgette Heyer and this is a good one! I have read her books over and over again and yet never managed to get through The Spanish Bride, Beauvallet or An Infamous Army. Have no idea why. Are they any good? (I've struggled through half of Beauvallet and lost interest).

Frawli Tue 09-Oct-12 20:16:24

Mooncup, I think there may be a Gretna elopement in Pistols for Two, Heyer's book of short stories (if I recall correctly, the one I have in mind is called Hazard?). I won't say what happens in case you've not read it, wouldn't like to spoil it for you.

I have been lurking on and off on your Georgette Heyer threads, I just love GH! Even the ones I am less keen on are still pretty good, and the really good ones are excellent.

Frawli Tue 09-Oct-12 20:17:29

I should say, there is a successful Gretna elopement, because as we know, there are more that start off for Gretna and don't make it, including another short story in Pistols for Two that I can think of.

MooncupGoddess Tue 09-Oct-12 20:31:32

Oh, that's interesting Frawli - I have read Pistols for Two but many years ago and can't remember them. I'm not sure short stories are GH's forte, they don't allow enough space for character development and humour.

thewhistler Tue 09-Oct-12 22:17:56

I'm pretty sure Frawli is right.
is the heroine Helen?

Of course, there is a very successful abduction when Miles abducts Abigail because he knows she will otherwise sacrifice their happiness, in which ever Bath one it is.

I agree about her not being at her best in short stories, like D L Sayers. But if you are an addict even lesser amouts of the drug will do. Although even I can't get through Beauvallet and Simon the C.

MooncupGoddess Tue 09-Oct-12 22:35:42

Ah yes, but I bet Miles had a special licence in his pocket!

Simon the Coldheart is very silly, but I did manage to finish it; My Lord John is the real killer. I know I've read Beauvallet but can't remember anything about it at all, or about Royal Escape.

HoratiaWinwood Tue 09-Oct-12 23:56:59

Beauvallet is the pirate one. Tried it recently; gave up.

thewhistler Wed 10-Oct-12 19:56:22

Of course Miles has a special licence!

Beauvallet, pirate meets Inquisition.

LeonieDeSaintVire Thu 11-Oct-12 23:04:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

thewhistler Mon 15-Oct-12 17:49:30

Keep on writing the essays, Leonie, this is why we all love this thread, the ability to read others' thoughts about GH when hitherto it has been a lonely trail.

And am in bed with a cold so this us perfect reading.

Who is it who says to the Melissa type ), I don't think it is Melissa) "I did not know how vulgar you could be" when she has mistaken a companion for a tart

Why did she stop My Lord John? Can't remember now.

On Lady Luttrell, whilst on the one hand I agree with you, on the other I get the feeling that he was so relieved to meet someone normal on his social level and so distressed about losing Pen that his barriers were down. And he knew that Pen was like a niece to her, so could be more open. And it is a good portrait of the independent older woman who is reasonably wise with a sense of humour.

What I don't understand about her is her behaviour to Piers. Unless she had really wanted Pen for him, not Lydia. Intelligence, wealth, and no awful in laws.
Otherwise it seems out of character, but even so it seems more scheming than she is drawn.

And I hold no.hope for the Piers Lydia marriage.

Whereas Pen will grow up and mature into wisdom but retain the Leonie sparkle. And she will get on with Richard's friends, just like Hero.

Frawli Mon 15-Oct-12 19:38:12

Thewhistler, I am pretty sure that is in Pistols for Two as well, Sir Charles something or other says it to Almeria in a short story called (I think) 'Bath Miss', where he is escorting the granddaughter of an acquaintance from school in Bath back to London.

For anybody who likes Heyer but hasn't read Pistols for Two, it's worth a read. Obviously with them being short stories they won't compare with one of her best novels but they are still entertaining.

LeonieDeSpookyVampire Mon 15-Oct-12 20:49:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

thewhistler Tue 16-Oct-12 08:30:57

I'm sure you are right, Frawli.

Leonie, yes, but she isn't drawn as so intransigent. You would have thought she would have had more sense than to have been so difficult.

I think the key to her enquiry is the beginning. She is anxious about Pen having got into a scrape. And that period was less mealy mouthed than its successors. But I agree, it is a plot device.

Piers will get very very bored. And be very very boring.

LadyDamerel Tue 16-Oct-12 22:01:11

I'm another who read this ages ago but had never reread it. For some reason that I can't now fathom, it wasn't in my Top 10 GHs'.

I loved it though, it's laugh-out-loud funny in places and I really fell for Richard this time around; he's handsome, witty, kind, stylish and accomplished and seems to be the prototype for a lot of her subsequent heroes (Sylvester, Sir Waldo, Robert Beaumaris, Alverstoke, Gareth Ludlow, for a start). He's a more suave, polished version of Tristram from The Talisman Ring.

It is interesting how many of her plot lines and characters are reinvented and recycled in her later books. It seems much more obvious when you read the books in order and start looking at them in more depth.

Richard's relationship with Louisa reminded me very much of Alverstoke's relationship with Augusta and his other sister (is she Louisa as well?) in Frederica, with their nagging about making a good match, attempts to marry him off and his determination to annoy them. Jimmy Yarde or his clone appears in almost every book that requires a slightly dodgy character (Hawkins in The Convenient Marriage, for eg, or Chirk in ^The Tollgate^), sometimes GH promotes them to Tiger (Henry in ^Regency Buck^); Cedric is Pelham/Pomeroy or Ferdy Fakenham in ^Friday's Child or Dysart in April Lady.

Personally I found the Piers/Lydia secondary characters completely underdeveloped and the whole subplot about the murder and the necklace felt a bit shoehorned in, to me. I found it a bit contrived, I think, as if she wanted to add a bit of drama to the romance but only as an aside. Not sure if that makes sense to anyone except me!

I can't remember what else I was going to say, it's late and I'm tired!

MooncupGoddess Wed 17-Oct-12 13:39:41

Yes, Richard is definitely a forerunner of Alverstoke (the 'suave' model of hero, as opposed to the 'moody' model). It's interesting to see how GH develops, as I find Alverstoke's relationship with Frederica much more realistic than Richard's with Pen, and there is more emphasis on Alverstoke's character development than Richard's.

As I think I said in the Convenient Marriage thread, I hate family necklace subplots - they're all the same and all deeply dull!

I find the general insouciance about Beverley's death hard to take - obviously he is a total shit, but the fact that even his brother can't give a toss rings rather false. Mind you, GH generally steers away from death altogether - a few minor characters meet unmourned ends, but the only convincing bereavement I can think of is Sylvester's grief for Harry. I suppose that's inevitable in light romantic novels but just occasionally (as here) it would be good to have a bit more genuine feeling.

LeonieDeSpookyVampire Thu 18-Oct-12 23:02:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

thewhistler Fri 19-Oct-12 10:49:53

Mooncup, yes on the relationship but I think that is for two reasons. One of which is authorial development, but the other is that it is the cynic falling for a much younger woman rather than the meeting of equals in maturity.

DuchessOfAvon Sat 20-Oct-12 19:29:05

Pants - I have totally lost the plot with the whole endeavour. I shall try to stay up to speed from now on.

I am dimly recalling The Corinthian from memory and must go and reread based on this thread. It was never in my favourite list - I always thought of it as a half way house for GH. As a pp said, the characters are there but its marred by a clunky plot - I SO agree about necklace subplots.

When Richard reappears as Alverstoke there is a) no necklace and b) a better heroine.

As I get older, I don't see the magic in the whole child-bride plot anymore - unless the groom is equally child-like which is why Sherry & Hero work and Freddie & Kitty. (Although I do make an exception for Justin & Leonie - probably only because it was my teenself's favourite book and I'll forgive Justin anything.)

sarahtigh Sat 20-Oct-12 20:59:10

I think child-bride is fairly authentic for the period, most women in the upper class were launched into soceity in the "season" about May when 17-18 any not married after 2 seasons max were considered on shelf and of course by that time it was probably another younger sister had finished with governess, I think it was fairly standard for upper class men to marry later 25 + so a 17/18 year old marrying someone about 30 would not have seemed odd.

Then they was no possibility of a women living alone so the only way to leave her father's house was to marry, or she would end up as companiojn for ageing relatives or unpaid governess for siblings children. Unfortunately even a bad marriage to an idiot or complete twat was considered better than being unmarried, though I do prefer the older heroines like abigail wendover etc better

thewhistler Sun 21-Oct-12 11:40:25


One of the reasons that we all love Leonie is that she is not silly nor particularly naive. In fact, as is said at the salon, she was wise and the dreadful years had left their mark. She has in fact experienced far more than any other G H heroine.

The Cure ( I think) points out that she knows what Justin's life has been like, and she recognises her youth in herself, when she says she must have him to scold her when she is maladroit.

Mind you, we almost never see her being maladroit or silly, which is the reason the only bit that jars with me is when Rupert and she are counting money and she doesn't appear to know how. For an innkeeper's sister that is ludicrous.

And for a child who has lost its father early on, the desire for a father figure is overwhelming. It is highly realistic, along with gratitude and hero worship of the man who literally saved her.

Agree the age thing as well.

(And we love it because it is the Cinderella story.)

BTW, feels v bizarre defending you to you... perhaps Leoniedsv would like to join?

imperialstateknickers Sun 21-Oct-12 11:49:11

just placemarking

DuchessOfAvon Sun 21-Oct-12 16:07:55

I have no quibbles with the veracity of the child-bride plot _ I was merely pondering how much less attractive I find it as I grow older. I am now far more fond of the more grown-up heroines - Lady of Quality - for example than I was a teenager when I first encountered GH. It really is These Old Shades that as stayed a firm favourite over the decades that I have known & loved her books.
ANd , yes, I completely agree about it being the Cinderella story.

Anyway - this isn't about TOS, and as I didn't re-read The Corinthian in time to comment with any detail, I really ought to shut up.

However, I do agree that this is the one where she gets into her stride with the supporting cast and her comedic touch is much more assured.

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