It’s been a long time since I have had this much fun reading. If someone else were in the room with me, I had to cover my mouth to hide the big grin. And the reason for all this mirth? The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer.
Heyer is often compared to Jane Austen: they were writing about the same period of English history but Austen was writing contemporaneously whereas Heyer was writing historical fiction. Heyer was unbelievably prolific: more than 40 novels, a dozen short story collections and almost as many thrillers. I wonder if reading them all could still hold my interest; but this first one was an unmitigated delight. I guess I avoided reading Heyer because her novels are generally described as “romance novels” and I mistakenly thought that they would not be “literary” enough (whatever that may mean and however foolish a sentiment that may be).
There is a lot of historical detail in the book that I trust is accurate: clothes, food, manners, some passing references to the historical figures of the day, in this case Napoleon and Wellington. But by far the most memorable part of the book is the dialogue. It will have you smiling from ear to ear if not laughing out loud. The repartee between the imperturbable Lord Carlyon and Mrs. Cheviot is masterful.
I don’t want to spoil any aspect of the plot for you. But here’s my recommendation: take a break from “serious fiction” and treat yourself to this book. You don’t even have to tell anyone; but if you are like I am, you will want to share the fun.