7 Rated Books Book Reviews

Book Review: Frederica by Georgette Heyer

Title: Frederica

Author: Georgette Heyer

Genre: Romance – Regency

Publisher:Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publishing Date:Reprint edition – January 1, 2009
Paperback:448 pages

Stand Alone or series: Stand alone

Summary: When Frederica brings her younger siblings to London determined to secure a brilliant marriage for her beautiful sister, she seeks out their distant cousin the Marquis of Alverstoke. Lovely, competent, and refreshingly straightforward, Frederica makes such a strong impression that to his own amazement, the Marquis agrees to help launch them all into society.

Lord Alverstoke cant resist wanting to help her

Normally wary of his family, which includes two overbearing sisters and innumerable favor-seekers, Lord Alverstoke does his best to keep his distance. But with his enterprising – and altogether entertaining – country cousins getting into one scrape after another right on his doorstep, before he knows it the Marquis finds himself dangerously embroiled…

Why did I read the Book: I was contacted by Sourcebooks Casablanca asking me if I wanted to read one of their Heyer releases and since I always wanted to read one of her books, I said yes!

Review:

I am quite possibly a few years (maybe decades) late with reading Georgette Heyer. Writer of dozens of Regencies, the author is, according to Wikipedia, the grandmother of the current historical romance (the great- grandmother is obviously, Jane Austen. I wonder where Barbara Cartland falls into this genealogical tree) , I had meant to read her books before but never got around to it. I live in the UK and her books are everywhere. All book shops store bucket loads of them – even book shops that do not sell Romance. When I received the email from Sourcebooks Casablanca, I thought it was a Sign and said yes , please.

What I did not know was how popular she is over here and to prove my point: everyday, on my lunch break, you can find me in the meeting room, reading. Usually my colleagues look at the books I read and say nothing: mostly because they are from US publishers and they have never heard of them. BUT when I was reading Frederica, everybody stopped for a chat and to say they love her books. Even my director, the perfect English Gentleman said to me: “I have all Georgie’s books, they are terribly romantic” .

And so it is. I opened the book without really knowing what to expect and was immensely pleased that I managed to pick a book that had a Reformed Rake story – my favourite romance trope.

The hero is the Marquis of Alverstoke (his given name is Vernon. VERNON. I shall ignore this because the only other Vernon I know, is Harry Potter’s uncle Vernon, and let me tell you, so NOT the image you want to have in your mind when you are picturing a romance hero) , who is 37 years of age, a confirmed bachelor , the rake that has his fair share of liaisons and who cares for nothing, no one , especially not his family (they seem to be only concerned about his money and influence). Alverstoke is also , as many rakes before – or rather, AFTER him – bored. Bored with the parties of the ton, bored with the mamas after his hand for their daughters. He even manages to be bored before the fact – one of the reasons why he never married is because he believes his wife will bore him to death.

Enter Frederica – a non-nonsense , honest and witty distant cousin who asks for his help in sponsoring her sister Charis into Society. Charis is one of the most beautiful young women he has ever seen (although a bit of a nitwit) and he says yes, at first to unsettle his own sisters but later, it becomes known that he had other reasons behind it. He becomes friends with Frederica whom he can have real conversations with, whilst growing, to his utter dismay, strangely attached to Friederica’s younger brothers, Felix and Jessamy .

The thing with this book is: even though the title is Frederica, the main character really is the Marquis. We have more of his point of view than of Frederica which was a good thing because nothing warms my heart faster than the musings of a previously, cold and collected man, falling head over heels in love with a woman who is by no means, the prettiest of them all, but who is the smartest and the one who shares things in common with him.

But do you know what the BEST thing about this reformed rake story? He is and remains unapologetically cynical. He does not redeem himself in his family’s eyes, he does not become a softer version of himself , changed by his love for Frederica. He finds in Frederica a similar soul (yet kinder) who understands him and laughs with him. I loved how , as soon as he realised his love for her, he is bent on trying to make her life easier. How he wished to help her and unburden her but ONLY her. Like, for example in this short piece:

“if the affair proved to be more serious than he supposed, and Frederica was troubled by it, he would intervene ,and without compunction. His lordship in fact, previously ruthless on his own behalf, was now prepared to sacrifice the entire human race to spare his Frederica one moment’s pain. “

If we get to know the Marquis quite well but the same cannot be said about Frederica – oh, we do know that she sees herself as being in the shelf (she is 24!!) , as a plain woman in comparison with her sister (which is fine with her) and how she was determined to do the best for her family. But we hardly ever see her side of falling in love with the Marquis. This short time spent with the heroine wouldn’t have bugged be so much if it wasn’t for the countless pages where everybody else – bothers, sisters, matrons, suitors, secretaries – got their moment in the spotlight.POV kept moving around and I , at one point wondered if the dog, would too get his 15 minutes of fame (a couple of scenes with the dog were so funny though). I read somewhere that Georgette Heyer is known for the detailed background on Regency customs and yes, this is most true. Although interesting for most of it, I have to say I was a bit bored with some of the overly clunky passages and wished we could just have more of the Marquis and Frederica or of her brothers.

Speaking of brothers – they were absolutely delightful and funny and their relationship with the Marquis was deliciously ludicrous and a pleasure to read about. As pleasurable was the overall experience I had with this novel. I will definitely be back for seconds.

Notable quotes/ Parts: every time Frederica and the Marquis were talking and laughing together. Funny repartee, how I love thee.

Verdict: delightful repartee, a good Hero and crazy kids as secondary characters = win. I just wish there were more of the amazing scenes between Frederica and the Marquis.

Rating: 7 very good.

Reading Next: The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

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10 Comments

  • Li
    May 28, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Frederica’s one of my favourite Heyers. The dog scene makes me laugh every time I read it.

    Her books vary widely in style though, Frederica is one of the lighter ones, whereas These Old Shades, say, is more umm… melodramatic (still great though!).

  • Kris
    May 28, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    I have a deep fondness for Heyer’s books as, after “P&P”, they were among the first romances I was allowed to read.

    I admit that I prefer her crime fiction. It is set in the post WW1 period and I think is very good.

  • AnimeJune
    May 28, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    My first Georgette Heyer was “False Colours,” which a twin-switch plot. I enjoyed it – particularly the language, which is spot-on (the only other modern author who can match the contemporary 19th century style is Susanna Clarke), although ultimately it only got a B+.

    But once I’m done with my dark fantasy “Ghost Ocean” I’ll be reading “Devil’s Cub,” which is supposed to be one of her best.

  • orannia
    May 28, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    ‘I am quite possibly a few years (maybe decades) late with reading Georgette Heyer.’

    *raises hand* Me too! I *small voice* have never read one. Is this a good place to start?

  • Pam P
    May 28, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    One of my favorite Heyers, love that repartee and that he remains what he is.

  • Kris
    May 28, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    *who can’t resist to put in her 2c* “Devil’s Cub” is right up there for me, but my absolute fave of her historicals is “Simon the Coldheart”, which is set in the medieval period.

  • Belle
    May 28, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I have never read Heyers before, but this might be the one I’ll start with. Plus, I really like the name Frederica, for some reason!

  • Adrienne
    May 29, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Funny-haven’t heard the name of Barbara Cartland in ages-and most of her books had her fully dripped in diamonds with her little white dog-on the back cover. I am glad that Georgette’s book are coming back, if you want a super great book, Regency Buck is probably the best (maybe, depends on who you ask) out of the whole series. Has a Mr. Darcy flavor to the main characture, and who doesn’t love Mr. Darcy? 🙂

  • Ros
    August 27, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I’m not sure why you think Jane Austen is the ‘great-grandmother of historical romance’. Austen only wrote contemporary novels.

  • Ana
    August 28, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Ros – yes, of course you are right , she did write contemporary novels. However, Georgette Heyer and other regency writers followed on her footsteps, being inspired by what she wrote , comedy of manners, intelligent dialogue, repartee etc – as far as I know that makes her “the great grandmother of the genre”.

    😀

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