skygiants: Beatrice from Much Ado putting up her hand to stop Benedick talking (no more than reason)
[personal profile] cinaed happened to be telling me about Heyer's Black Sheep (one of the few I have not read) right before I went on vacation to the Galapagos, and then it happened to be available for Kindle checkout from my library that very day, and so the path for fluffy travel escapist reading had been prepared.

As it turns out, I like pretty much everything about Black Sheep except ... maybe the end .......?

So Black Sheep is one of those Heyers which focuses on an ironical older couple caught up in the orbit of a Very Dramatic younger couple, though in this case the whole point is not to let the younger couple get married. Our Heroine, 28-year-old Abigail Wendover, shares guardianship of her wealthy teenage niece Fanny with her sweet-but-histrionic older sister Selina. Fanny is under the earnest impression that she is desperately in love with Stacy Calverleigh, a sketchy fortune-hunter who is in his late twenties and very, very obviously gross (to Abigail!) (but alas not to Fanny or Selina!)

Enter Stacy Calverleigh's weird uncle Miles, the family black sheep who bounced off to India [obligatory colonialism warning] years ago and happens coincidentally to be back in town.

ABIGAIL: Well, sir, now that you are conveniently in town, will you help me break up my niece and your nephew?
MILES: I would, but: I'm not responsible for him and I don't care.
ABIGAIL: Would you care if you pointed out to you repeatedly how it was an important and ethical thing to do?
MILES: I definitely would not care about that. But you seem like fun, so can keep doing it if it means you'll keep hanging out with me!

Miles is Not Respectable any more than his nephew is, but, to her deep embarrassment, Abigail finds herself Showing Him Marked Preference. He is just so entertaining! However, the rest of her highly respectable extended family is even MORE down on him than they are on Stacy Calverleigh, because there is a Dark Tragic Secret Linking Them In Their Past --

MILES: Oh, yes, I definitely tried to elope with your brother's fiancee way back in the day. Embarrassing times for all!
ABIGAIL: Oh, so this was a Love Tragically Thwarted kind of thing?
MILES: Definitely, definitely not, SO happy we didn't go through with it. That was a disaster waiting to happen.

So this is all set up in the front half of the book, and then Abigail mostly spends the back half of the book zooming around in twelve different directions trying to stop Fanny from running off with Sketchy Stacy, while also grappling with the question of whether she would be a big fat hypocrite to do everything in her power to prevent Fanny from marrying Stacy against her family's wishes and immediately afterwards herself bounce off to marry Miles against her family's wishes. Like, it's definitely different just due to the fact that she is an adult and Fanny is not! But is it that different?

Spoilers for the end )
skygiants: Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing holding up a finger and looking comically sage (explaining the logics)
I reread Heyer's The Masqueraders recently -- this is the one in which a brother and sister, wanted for participation in the Jacobite rebellion, are instructed by their wacky mastermind father that the only way for them to be safe from the long arm of the law is to cunningly disguise themselves as ... A SISTER AND BROTHER!

No, see, it makes sense because Our Heroine is quite tall, and her brother is quite short, and the police will be looking for a notably short man and a notably tall woman, not a man and woman who are both of approximately ... ordinary....

.... OK it really doesn't make any sense, no sense at all, but it is a lot of fun to read as cross-dressing hijinks go. It is also notable to me because Patience, unlike most cross-dressing heroines, is not a teenaged ingenue with Something to Prove; she's twenty-eight, responsible, sensible, cool-headed, and admired by everyone for the fact that she has clearly inherited every bit of chill that the family possesses. Her love interest is the lofty Sir Anthony Fanshawe, who is huge and slow and sleepy and tremendously respectable until midway through the book when he suddenly gets caught up in all the wacky hijinks around him and starts really enthusiastically busting heads, and Patience is like 'well, on the one hand, I feel deeply embarrassed for getting such an admirable and respectable person caught up in all of this nonsense, but on the other hand, THIS IS HILARIOUS.'

(Her brother Robin, meanwhile -- who gets a dashing MYSTERY ROMANCE full of DRAMA in which he hangs out with his love interest as her beautiful BFF all day, then by night disguises himself as a HIGHWAYMAN and secretly flirts with her at MASKED BALLS -- has none of the chill at all.)

Anyway, as I was rereading, I started fan-casting in my head for the movie that I would love to see somebody make.

Obviously, Patience -- serene, gigantic, blonde -- should be played by Gwendolyn Christie.

Equally obviously, the only person who could really do justice to Sir Anthony Fanshawe -- the most dignified and respectable and HUGE AND WELL-MUSCLED Georgian gentleman around -- is Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. We've all been waiting to see the Rock in a period piece! HERE IS THE ROLE. MAKE IT HAPPEN.

I get stuck brainstorming on Robin, though, especially since I am fairly sure in a modern Masqueraders film I would not want to cast Robin as the straight cis dude that Georgette Heyer thinks he is. I can think of at least four ways to adapt the character, I just can't decide which I like best!
skygiants: Mae West (model lady)
In addition to my awesome Yuletide fic, I also got an awesome Yuletide treat! Solve for XX is an awesome ficlet that continues to assuage my constant craving for YANKUMI TEACHING DELINQUENT GIRLS:

Kumiko blanched. This was a teacher's worst nightmare.

As usual, I am working my way through the rest of the archive VERY SLOWLY, often backwards and in reverse (one gets such a feeling of accomplishment working up from the Zs, the letters go so much more quickly than the top of the alphabet ...) I am also continuing to work my way through December meme posts! For the 21 I was supposed to write about Georgette Heyer for [personal profile] bookblather.

It's kind of hard for me to remember that I only read my first Georgette Heyer book towards around the end of college -- she's such solid comfort reading for me now that I feel like I have been reading her books FOREVER. My favorite Heyers (Cotillion, Talisman Ring, Sylvester, The Unknown Ajax, Frederica, etc.) are pretty much guaranteed mood pick-me-ups for me; they're light and frothy and ridiculous and it's impossible to be stressed while reading them. Everything is charming and nothing hurts!

...that said, I mean, for all her books are sweet as spun-sugar candy on toast, Georgette Heyer was not a nice lady. She was classist and anti-Semitic as hell, and probably racist too, although since I don't think I've ever encountered a non-white person in any of her books that fact is not as immediately evident. But who can ever forget all those charming plots along the lines of "well, this terrible thing would be OK if it happened to that kind of girl, but it can't happen to our heroine, she has CLASS?" I have also discovered that even in times of great stress I can only read so many Georgette Heyer books at a time, otherwise I start to feel a level of simmering irritation with all these cheerful and charming aristocrats who don't do anything. WHATEVER, DUDES! GET A JOB!

That said, it's still nice to know that I have a bunch of unread Heyers yet to discover for next time a period of great stress comes around and I just want to be reading about a bunch of cheerful and charming aristocrats who don't do anything. A Civil Contract, Cousin Kate and The Nonesuch are top of my current list, but for the moment I am saving them in the metaphorical literary freezer as Emergency Heyer.
skygiants: Rebecca from Fullmetal Alchemist waving and smirking (o hai)
HEY EVERYBODY who came to prove me wrong in comments about Georgette Heyer yesterday, go prove me wrong some more in [personal profile] kate_nepveu's Heyer poll! IT'S FOR SCIENCE.

Note: you do not actually have to have proven me wrong yesterday to vote.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (eyebrows of inquiry)
Georgette Heyer makes for such good airplane reads. This time [personal profile] fahye told me I had to read Friday's Child, which is the one where two BABIES decide to get marriage-of-convenienced.

SHERRY: UGH! The most beautiful girl of the Season turned me down! I can't believe it!
HERO: That's rough, buddy. :(
SHERRY: I should just marry someone ELSE.
HERO: Yeah!
SHERRY: ...hey, buddy, how about I marry YOU?
HERO: ...well I am a sixteen-year-old orphan and I have basically never left this town so I feel like I will not make the best wife polite society has to offer.
SHERRY: On the one hand, yes. On the other hand, if we get married, I will come into my inheritance and we can buy SO MUCH AWESOME STUFF.
HERO: You make a compelling argument. LET'S ELOPE AND BUY ALL THE THINGS.

So in the first, like, two chapters, they elope and buy all the things, to the tunes of extensive facepalming from everybody they know.

GIL, THE SAGACIOUS FRIEND: Hero is a super sweetheart though. I wish ... Sherry had a clue in his head ...
FERDY, THE DECIDEDLY NOT SAGACIOUS FRIEND: Wait, why is Sherry getting married? I'm confused. Love hanging out with Hero, though, she's the greatest!
GEORGE, THE ANGRY FRIEND: Ugh, the woman I love won't SPEAK to me. Life is TERRIBLE. I would like to cry on Hero's shoulder and then fight a duel. With someone. Anyone. HEY YOU, WANT TO FIGHT A DUEL --
EVERYONE ELSE: Slow your roll, George.

The rest of the book is essentially a repeat of this exchange:

SHERRY: Hero! Why are you hanging out with those disrespectable personages!
HERO: Well, I mean, they are your friends so I thought it was fine? Is it not fine?
SHERRY: Hero! Why are you getting super deep into gambling debts?
HERO: Well, I mean, you do it, so I thought it was fine? Is it not fine?
SHERRY: No, it is not fine, it is STUPID. ...I am stupid.
HERO: I learned it from you, dude. I LEARNED IT FROM YOU.
GEORGE, THE ANGRY FRIEND: Hero, should I fight a duel with Sherry for you? I WILL DUEL HIM FOR YOU.
EVERYONE ELSE: Slow your roll, George.

It's a bit like The Convenient Marriage, except less annoying because the double standards are expressly pointed out; also, instead of being lofty and superior, the hero is as clueless and hapless as the heroine. OR MORE.

HERO: So you know how you said when we got married that we could both do whatever we want, that meant affairs, right? Does that still mean affairs?
GEORGE, THE ANGRY FRIEND: Sherry are you being mean to Hero because I am still totally ready to fight a duel! Any time! LET'S GO!
EVERYONE ELSE: Slow your roll, George.

Overall it is pretty charming and full of hijinks aplenty, although I will warn for two attempted Romantic Abductions about which everyone is just like "lol whatever." One is good-natured and probably deserves the "lol whatever" but the other one I feel deserves MUCH MORE CENSURE even though the abducted lady in question gets off a decisive victory and all the abductor gets is a bad case of sore shins, from kicking.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)
Tomorrow I am defending my master's thesis, so my brain's been kind of focused on that this week to the exclusion of all else, but while I'm trying to focus on fluff I might as well do the rest of my Heyer-binge round-up!

Sylvester: I have written this one up before and it remains one of my favorites. The plot: aspiring author writes over-the-top Gothic romance, steals extremely distinctive sinister eyebrows off someone she met once at a party for her nephew-harassing villain. Unfortunately, the possessor of the sinister eyebrows turns out to be a.) her love interest and b.) ACTUALLY in possession of a nephew, of whom he is very fond, which makes him deeply unappreciative of aspersions to the contrary. HIJINKS ENSUE, including the beloved tropes of Trapped In An Inn, Fakeout Elopement, and Accidental Kidnapping. One of my Yuletide options this year might be a request for a sequel focused on the next book that Phoebe writes, the one featuring The Notorious Eyebrows on an EVEN MORE SINISTER VILLAIN (if I don't talk [personal profile] saramily into writing it for me first.)

Arabella: This is a Heyer in the sweet siblings-and-puppies-filled vein of Frederica, although not quite as good. Arabella is a nice parson's daughter who just wants to marry someone rich and help the poor; her love interest is a troll who, as a joke, spreads a rumor that she is a GINORMOUS HEIRESS, causing great confusion to all. Then he falls in love with her and accidentally adopts an urchin and a dog. This is one of the ones where you never quite see the heroine falling in love with the hero -- she thinks he's nice! I mean, he'll do fine! -- and, like, I'm totally okay with that? Arabella really wants to have enough money to provide for her siblings and do random acts of charity, and a rich guy she likes perfectly well will fill her needs in this manner, AND THAT'S FINE.

False Colours: I knew I had about hit the end of this Heyer binge for me when I read about this protagonist, a diplomat in the Foreign service, and was like "OH THANK GOD A HERO WHO ACTUALLY HAS A JOB AND DOES SOMETHING WITH HIS LIFE." Uh, but I like Kit for other reasons! Kit is a sensible identical twin, who gets talked into impersonating his mysteriously disappeared brother and then falls in love with his brother's arranged-marriage fiancee. This actually gets sorted out about halfway through the book, without any particular help from Kit, because his love interest is as sensible as he is. Then the rest of the book involves his hot mom sorting out the rest of their problems, again without any particular help from Kit, who is busy making out with his fiancee an unusual amount of times for a Heyer novel, and it's all very bizarrely but pleasantly low-key for a book about TWIN SWAPS and CRUSHING DEBT.

I still mean to read A Civil Contract, but I think I am just about worn out on idle aristocrats for the time being, so it's going to have to wait until the next Heyer binge.
skygiants: Fakir and Duck, from Princess Tutu, with a big question mark over Duck's head (communication difficulty)
Faro's Daughter was one of the most-recced Heyers in comments the other day; I think it is generally known as "the one where the heroine kidnaps the hero and keeps him in her cellar!"

So, yes, that happens.

Faro's Daughter is one of the Heyers with a TEMPESTUOUS couple who spend most of their time shouting at each other; HE'S a rich, proud confirmed bachelor (of course) and SHE is the fierce and self-assured patroness of a gambling house. I do not actually believe in their happy ending at all, but the book was extremely amusing all the same! However, my sympathies fell most often with the heroine's poor, beleaguered, deeply-in-debt aunt, who got to have lots of conversations that went like this:

OUR HEROINE DEBORAH: Aunt, aunt, you will never guess what happened!
AUNT: Does it have something to do with our CRUSHING DEBTS?
DEBORAH: Well, a very rich man just offered me twenty thousand dollars not to marry his rich baby cousin, whom I had no intention of marrying anyway!
AUNT: Great! Fantastic! We could totally use twenty thousand dollars!
DEBORAH: And then I threw it in his face.
AUNT: . . . .
DEBORAH: And I told him I would TOTALLY marry his rich baby cousin!
AUNT: Oh, you will? Great! Fantastic! That will also work!
DEBORAH: Oh, don't be silly, I am totally not going to really marry his cousin!
AUNT: Then why did . . . you say you would . . .
AUNT: So . . . just to clarify, what is your plan from here, exactly?
DEBORAH: Well, I'm going to agree to marry his cousin, and THEN I'm going to make myself SO COMPLETELY VULGAR AND ANNOYING that everyone is going to be totally embarrassed to be seen with me, and the jerkface will think I am exactly the kind of awful person he thought I was! HAH! That'll show him!
AUNT: And then -- correct me if I'm wrong -- you are going to dump the cousin at the last minute --
AUNT: -- and we will end up in debtor's prison.
DEBORAH: MAYBE! But who cares? I will have shown them all! HAHAHAHAHA!
AUNT: I do not understand the kids these days.

But if her poor aunt is confused by this, this is nothing compared with what happens later. )
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (eyebrows of inquiry)
So yesterday as a reward for several weeks of stress I reread Georgette Heyer's Cotillion, and even though this was the very first Heyer I ever read, it turns out that it in fact pre-dated my booklogging habit and therefore I have never written it up!

I AM FIXING THAT NOW, because Cotillion is so, so delightful. Everybody who's ever read a Heyer knows this, but there are presumably some people out there who don't! BUT NOW YOU WILL. (You're welcome!)

Cotillion starts out with our heroine Kitty being informed by her cranky old guardian that she has to marry one of his great-nephews/her fake cousins, or he's not going to leave her any money. He's summoned them all here, so she can pick which one she likes best, and that will be that!

Unfortunately, the Dashing Sexy fake cousin that she is secretly in love with and that her guardian secretly wants to leave all his money to has failed to turn up, leaving her with the option of Bachelor A, the rector who doesn't believe in fun and is only proposing because he's Very Worried About Kit's Future, and Bachelor B, the one who has a mental age of seven and is only proposing because his mother made him. Everyone involved agrees that this is very awkward -- bear in mind that they are all fake cousins and have known each other since they were kids -- but nobody really knows what to do about it!

Fortunately, while Kitty is in the process of throwing a tantrum and running away, she bumps into Bachelor C, the amiable and hapless one who is already rich and has no interest in getting married because any potential wife would probably clash with his exquisite wardrobe.

KITTY: FREDDY. Freddy! Buddy. Favorite fake cousin!
FREDDY: . . . first I've heard about being your favorite fake cousin . . .
KITTY: Sooooo Freddy, how about we get fake engaged? And then I could go hang out in London for a month and buy a lot of engagement dresses and make our Dashing Sexy cousin feel like an idiot for not turning up to get married, and then we'll break up! Is this not the greatest idea ever? :D
FREDDY: . . . not sure I'd actually use the words 'greatest idea ever . . .'
FREDDY: . . . you're right, that is pretty terrible. FINE. Let's do this thing.

And then they go back and earnestly explain to everybody that they have been nursing a SECRET PASSION for each other for years, and then they go to London, and Freddy helps Kitty buy dresses, and Kitty drags Freddy to all the tourist traps, and they hang out and admire each other's good taste and have awesome BFF times, and, like, that's it. THAT'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BOOK.

I mean, Sexy Dashing Cousin inevitably shows up to be a romantic interest, and Kitty gets involved in some wacky hijinks around various other cousins, but mostly IT'S ABOUT BUDDIES and spoilers )

I also need to ask you guys what Heyer I should read next, since I anticipate more stressful weeks in my future and I've run out of ones that I remember having been directly recommended.

For the record, I have also read and loved: The Talisman Ring, The Unknown Ajax, Sprig Muslin, Sylvester, The Corinthian, Frederica and The Foundling

I have read and enjoyed with some caveats: The Grand Sophy, Venetia, Devil's Cub, The Convenient Marriage, The Masqueraders, and Regency Buck

I have read and did not like at all: Bath Tangle and The Spanish Bride
skygiants: Mosca Mye, from the cover of Fly Trap (the fly in the butter)

. . . uh, and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! Have fun with your holiday, I'm going to be over here with my giant pile of glorious Yuletide to wade through. *____*

I got two stories this year and they are both PERFECTION.

The Marriage Masquerade, The Talisman Ring

Ludovic waved a hand. “I want nothing—the reek from that devilish carpet is sobering enough.”

Sir Tristram exerted a super-human effort, and refrained from pointing out that this ruinously expensive carpet had been an excellent example of its kind before he and his Bedlamite wife had entered the room uninvited.

Ludovic and Eugenie are having some marital problems, so obviously it's up to Tristram and Sarah to sort them out, as usual. This fic is hilarious and perfectly in-character all around, but the greatest thing about it is that it is Talisman Ring fic WITH CROSSDRESSING, like, man, guys, somebody clearly knows exactly what I want in my fiction. WELL DONE, MYSTERY AUTHOR.

Civilized Indecency, Fly By Night

“We must do something about these disruptive tendencies of yours, Mosca. Oh, yes, they’re endearing on a certain level, but that hardly balances the inconvenience, not to mention mortal peril, your revolutionary little heart brings upon us with stunning regularity. Can we, just this once, drop it?”

Mosca encounters a corrupt legal system, proceeds to drag Clent into attempting to turn it on its head, as is her wont, and finds out things are immensely more complicated and troubling than she thought - so basically this fic like someone wrote me a new Mosca Mye novel in two thousand words AND IS PERFECTION, everyone go read it immediately! Oh Mosca, my very favorite angry little girl.

There might be actual recs later as I dive into the rest of the archive, but for right now I just have to do a special shout-out to the greatest mystery (for me) of Yuletide so far: Step by step on the flowers placed before you, a Capital Scandal/Sungkyunkwan Scandal CROSSOVER FIC about YONG HA AND CHA SONG JOO HANGING OUT oh my god beautiful brilliance (beautiful heartbreaking brilliance)

This was a gift for [personal profile] shati, who for the record I sat down and forced to watch both Capital Scandal and Sungkyunkwan Scandal this summer. So when she saw the tags we had this conversation:

BECCA: No! It wasn't me! Was it you?
SHATI: It's a gift for me, so I'm pretty sure no! Are you sure it wasn't you?
BECCA: Not unless I wrote it in my sleep!
SHATI: . . .
BECCA: . . . Debi . . .?

But it doesn't read particularly like [personal profile] innerbrat, or [personal profile] viviolo or [personal profile] dharmavati either, who would be my first range of usual suspects. If I'm wrong: CONGRATS GUYS, you totally fooled me, and also, YOU'RE AMAZING. If it's someone else I know: DITTO. If it's a stranger: HI, YOU'RE A GENIUS, LET'S BE FRIENDS.
skygiants: Yankumi from Gosuken going "..." (dot dot dot)
So for me the process of reading Georgette Heyer's The Spanish Bride went something like this:

BECCA: I have just read half a dozen post-apocalyptic novels and I am super stressed and have finals due and I REALLY DESPERATELY need something light and fluffy that I am guaranteed to enjoy!
THE SPANISH BRIDE: I am a stealth Georgette Heyer that you have never read, lurking in the back of your bookshelf!
BECCA: Perfect! Come to me, sweet and hijinks-filled Regency romance full of witty banter and ridiculous slang!
THE SPANISH BRIDE: I may have forgotten to mention that I am Georgette Heyer's attempt at a realistic historical novel. Now let's start off with a description of British soldiers looting, raping and plundering a defenseless city during the Napoleonic Wars! :D :D
BECCA: . . . . wait what.

HARRY: I am the hero of this book! I am a valiant twentysomething officer destined for heroism.
JUANA: And I am the heroine! I am a fourteen-year-old refugee.
HARRY: A SEXY fourteen-year-old refugee. Baby, let's get married!
BECCA: @______________@

THE SPANISH BRIDE: And then they weather the hardships of war together while she thinks about how her husband is the only important thing in her life and she will die if he does! It's very romantic.
BECCA: That's . . . that's not what . . .
THE SPANISH BRIDE: NONSENSE. True love is great! They have a tempestuous passion!
BECCA: Fourteen-year-olds are often pretty tempestuous! BECAUSE THEY'RE BABIES.
THE SPANISH BRIDE: Also, look, Juana is totally fine with never seeing her family again or having any female friends, and all the dudes love her and think of her as a mascot. She's so uncomplaining and plucky! SEE, I'M FEMINIST.
BECCA: I don't . . . that's not . . . THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED TO BE READING!

BUT I FINISHED IT ANYWAY. Mostly out of stubbornness. It is officially at the bottom of my Heyer list. Please don't try to be realistic, Georgette Heyer! IT IS NOT YOUR FORTE.

(PS: Juana and Harry were real people! It is Based on a True Story, etc. And, you know what, that true story about Juana the teenager who rode on campaign through the Napoleonic Wars would have been really incredibly interesting -- if it was not such a textbook example of a female character's awesome qualities being framed by -- ugh, I don't want to say 'the patriarchy' because then I will sound like a self-parody, but man! Georgette Heyer wants you to know that Juana is great because she's not squeamish or finicky like other women! She's not annoying to have around on campaign! She understands when the men are talking Men Talk! It doesn't matter if Harry comes back gross from battle, she always understands his ~needs~ and is totally willing to have sex!

I don't like the term Mary Sue for a lot of reasons, because I think it is too often used as a sledgehammer to beat down female characters for unfair reasons. I don't want to be annoyed by female characters for being too awesome or special or anything, because holy double standards, Batman! But I really do not like the way Juana is written in this book, and I think I do want a word for writing where women are explicitly being awesome by male standards, for male convenience, and not for themselves, because it's SUPER FRUSTRATING.)
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)
Precisely how behind I am on booklogging: Georgette Heyer's The Foundling was the book I was reading back before I moved two months ago in order to turn off my brain and forget the stress of packing. (It worked, too! THANK YOU, GEORGETTE HEYER.)

This is one of those Heyers that is really only classed as a romance because it's set in the regency and That's How You Market A Heyer. I mean, there is some sort of a romance, and it's sweet! It also takes place entirely in, oh, the last quarter of the book. The first three-quarters consist entirely of the Coming of Age of Duke Gilly the Extremely Sweet and Responsible. Gilly's main problem in life is that all of his servants have known him since he was a sickly baby and so every time he wants to do anything they basically shout "YOU'LL CATCH COLD!" in unison and make him stop.

GILLY'S DASHING COUSIN: Why don't you just tell them to shut up?
GILLY: I'd like to, but I just keep feeling like it would be irresponsible and an abuse of authority. D: D: D:
GILLY'S DASHING COUSIN: . . . you're a twenty-five-year-old Duke! In a Heyer novel! Where is all your crankiness and headstrong rebellion?
GILLY: I'd like to be cranky and headstrong and rebellious, but I'm just afraid of hurting everybody's feelings!

So when the opportunity comes to do something that would be rebellious and responsible - helping another, less dashing and more hapless cousin sort out a blackmail affair! Who could object to that? - Gilly jumps on the opportunity and basically runs away from home incognito to take care of it.

GILLY'S DASHING COUSIN: . . . seriously, guys, he's twenty-five.

So Gilly goes off and has a fantastic time facing down peril ("I rescued myself without any help or anything! BEING KIDNAPPED WAS AWESOME") and staying in un-classy hotels and picking up stray teenagers in need of assistance and being ruthlessly mothered by innkeepers, and eventually towards the end falls in love with his equally quiet and responsible arranged-marriage fiancee, and it's all very endearing! It's especially endearing because Gilly's growing up does not mean he gets any less polite and sweet and responsible, he just gets better at politely and responsibly doing his own thing when necessary. If more romance novel heroes were like this, I would read more romances.

Meanwhile everyone else in the book continues to run around in panicked and occasionally accuse Gilly's dashing cousin of murdering him because he's not concerned enough about him. ("SERIOUSLY EVERYONE HE'S TWENTY-FIVE.")

My biggest complaint about the book as weighed against the rest of the Pantheon of Heyer - and it's a largeish one - is, not enough ladies! Gilly's fiancee, as mentioned, is barely there until the end, and the beautiful foundling that he finds himself having to take care of has a very clear and explicit mental age of seven (which is problematic in other ways). So it's not top-notch Heyer in that respect, but as a twentysomething coming-of-age tale I actually really liked it.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (ooooh)
Man, my thoughts on Georgette Heyer's Devil's Cub are so conflicted. On the one hand, the hero is a rake in the old-school sense, which - since generally I assiduously avoid rakes in the old-school sense - makes him one of the biggest assholes I have ever encountered in a Heyer novel! Not just on the level of 'gets drunk and gambles a lot' but on the level of 'sexually harasses ladies, kills people for no reason and just does not care.' He could die and that ending would probably make me just as happy.

On the other hand, I sort of love that his assholeishness is not explained by any kind of secret inner kindness or background trauma. NOPE. Dude is just a jerk! And Mary, the sensible and unromantic heroine whom, of course, I love, is totally aware of this. There are no false pretenses or hidden depths here; she's just like "Yep, he's a total asshole of a spoiled brat with few redeeming qualities and I acknowledge my awful taste, and that just makes me enjoy ordering him around even more. *___* Those days after I shot him for attempting to sexually assault me, when he was bedridden and I came to mock him and force-feed him gruel and exert my will on him in all ways? AWESOME DAYS." Which has the result of making this one of the few Heyer couples that have actual chemistry and for whom I believe in the existence of a sex life! (And I suspect kind of a kinky one too.) Like, I would not wish Dominic Marquis of Whatever on anyone, but Mary seems to want him and to know what she's in for, and as long as she keeps up her position of shooting him and/or throwing cold water on him whenever he gets out of line I guess I can ship that . . .?

On the other other hand, this is one of those Heyer books where Heyer makes her classism very clear - the basic plot is that Mary and her sister are the result of an ill-fated marriage between a nobleman and a TERRIBLE BOURGEOIS, and Mary's sister inherited all the TERRIBLE BOURGEOIS and Mary inherited all the class. Mary secretly takes her sister's place on an assignation because the sister is, alas, too dumb and classless to save her own reputation, figuring that once Dominic figures out they've tricked him he'll send her home and everything will be cool. Only, because Dominic is an asshole, this quickly turns into an abduction followed by a quick round of Engagement Chicken and several full-speed horse chases across France and Mary shoots Dominic (on purpose) and Dominic stabs Mary (accidentally) and(literal) cold water is thrown on everyone, and Mary is like "seriously, guys, I'll admit I'm kind of into him but I am not into being penniless and disowned so can someone just get me a position as a governess please?" while everybody else is like "oh, well, if it was the bourgeois sister we wouldn't care about anyone's reputation, but Mary has class!" and I spent all the scenes in which that was discussed gritting my teeth. Except the other half the scenes I was cracking up, because all the hilarious melodrama is done quite deliberately tongue in cheek and keeps getting interrupted by Mary being sensible or wacky uncles popping up and buying a boatload of Bordeaux.

. . . so you see what I mean about mixed feelings?
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (eyebrows of inquiry)
I read a Georgette Heyer book this weekend that I didn't love or even really like at all, which makes me kind of sad as even the less-appealing Heyers usually have enough highly entertaining bits to count as comfort reading for me. But in Bath Tangle, I just couldn't get past the fact that the hero and the heroine are two of the most enormous jerks I have yet encountered in a Heyer novel, and that possibly includes the villains. They are meant to be appealingly passionate and have argumentative chemistry, but I sort of suspect they actually both have serious anger management issues and will end up murdering each other within a year, taking out a wide swathe of bystanders along the way.

The storyline also centers around a trope that I have discovered generally tends to frustrate me, which I have dubbed Engagement Chicken. The game of Engagement Chicken, a popular pastime in the Regency period as far as I can tell from romance novels, is played something like this:

Character A: Character B, whom I secretly love, has become engaged to someone else! So now I will become engaged to someone else. TAKE THAT, CHARACTER B.
Character B: Wait, now that you're engaged to someone else I have figured out I love you! But I can't break my engagement unless Character C also wants to break it.
Character C: I have realized my terrible mistake in getting engaged to Character B, but I can't break my engagement unless Character B also wants to break it.
Character A: Hah, I knew you didn't love Character C!
Character A: Anyway, I can only break my engagement to Character D if they also want to break our engagement!
Character B: . . . so, hypothetically speaking, Character C, what are the circumstances under which you would break our engagement?
Character C: I would never break our engagement! Unless, I mean, unless you wanted to break our engagement.
Character B: What, I mean, why would you even think that? Damn our inevitable misery, full speed ahead!
Character D: I have realized my terrible mistake in getting engaged to Character A, but I can't break my engagement unless Character A also wants to break it . . .
EVERYONE: *sits around and stares hard at each other as the wedding dates approach until SOMEONE finally gets fed up enough to break their engagement, generally in the last five pages of the book*

Sometimes there is only one engagement involved, sometimes there are two or three, but it always involves a lot of sitting around and agonizing over the terrible mistake they have made and how they can possibly extricate themselves.

Is there already a name for this trope, or have I discovered a new one? And are there enough examples that it could, say, justify a TVtropes page? Flist, your input and examples would be appreciated!
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (eyebrows of inquiry)
For a Georgette Heyer book, Frederica is almost astoundingly lacking in cross-dressing, kidnappings, smugglers, elopements, swordfights, and other items of the dramatic nature that one tends to expect. And . . . I kind of loved it? It's so low-key and domestic! (Okay, except for the part with the hot-air balloon.) And absolutely chock full of awesome siblings who all have different and believable dynamics, and act like real people and not plot devices!

It starts out looking like it might be one of the more frustrating Heyers; Our Hero is a Haughty Rake who Cares For No One But Himself, Seriously People Stop Asking Him To Do Them Favors, he is so over that. The narrative also spends a hilarious amount of time discussing his tight pants and how they look like they're molded to his thighs. Our Heroine Frederica is his distant cousin, a twenty-four-year-old who considers herself destined to be an aunt and has an impossibly gorgeous younger sister that she's determined to launch into society. This seems like a setup for awkward love triangle-esque angst, but in fact pretty much no one even entertains the idea that the hero might end up with the younger sister; instead, he spends all his time kind of accidentally befriending the younger brothers and it's TOTALLY ADORABLE. The middle brother, a very earnest sixteen-year-old who wants to be a priest and keeps trying to Set A Good Example, is a ton of fun, but the littlest brother Felix kind of steals the show - he's an adorable mechanical-obsessed dork who is prone to launching into long joyous explanations of the latest technology, and keeps dragging the Viscount off to go visit elevators and hot-air balloon launches.

(VISCOUNT: Well, you know, my secretary knows all about gears, so -
FELIX: But, but that wouldn't be fair to you, to miss out on the elevator! D: IT'S SO AWESOME! Seriously, let me explain how it works and then you will definitely understand -
VISCOUNT: . . . I have never experienced quite this form of puppy-dog eyes before. @_@ And I don't know how to cope!
FELIX: I told you you would enjoy it, right? :D :D :D WASN'T THAT COOL.
VISCOUNT: . . . if I tell you I didn't enjoy it you'll be crushed, won't you. OKAY. I ENJOYED IT.
FELIX: Yay! Now let's go see this super cool steam engine -

I kept expecting drama the whole book, and there wasn't any! Well, okay, there is a star-crossed lovers plot involving Charis, but the whole thing turns out to be mostly a misunderstanding. Felix also has one moment of kind of hilarious peril that is central to the story, but that development actually turns into something that is reasonably realistic and not at all over-the-top.

And if more romance novels had the Lofty Aloof Selfish Rake showing he was in love with the girl by helping her babysit her little brothers in Time of Need and then tactfully holding off on the declarations of love in case it stressed her out, I would read more romance novels, and that is all I'm saying.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (eyebrows of inquiry)
Monday of this week saw me exhausted, cranky, and full of sorrow at having to leave Denver and all the amazing people there. Fortunately I happened to have an unread Georgette Heyer novel out from the library waiting for just such a time!

The Convenient Marriage turned out to be one of my less-favorite Heyers, which does not mean it didn't have me cracking up on the subway several times. The first two chapters are actually pretty brilliant, and go like this:

BEAUTIFUL HEROINE: Oh woe is me! The hero has decided to wed, and I must marry him to help my family out of our financial straights! Now I can never be with my TRUE LOVE.
HEROINE'S LITTLE SISTER: Don't worry! I have a PLAN.

HERO: Beautiful Heroine seems very pretty and I expect we'll be very happy.
HEROINE'S LITTLE SISTER: WHY HELLO THERE! I have come SECRETLY to your house to tell you that ACTUALLY I think it would be way more convenient for everyone if you marry me instead.
HERO: . . .
HEROINE'S LITTLE SISTER: I mean, if you are man enough to deal with my enormous Zachary Quinto eyebrows. And the stammer.
HERO: . . . not that this isn't all kind of adorable, but aren't you like twelve?
HEROINE'S LITTLE SISTER: Seventeen! That is totally legit for a Georgian romance. You can have affairs if you want, too, I actually kind of don't care.
HERO: I . . . okay?

HEROINE'S LITTLE SISTER: So actually I'm the heroine of this novel and my beautiful sister will never appear again, is everyone okay with that?

Alas, after this excellent beginning, the plot pretty much revolves around the hero's GREATEST ENEMY trying to create a Big Misunderstanding between our awkwardly married pair while the heroine frets about her husband's old mistress and gets a gambling problem, which as plots go is kind of annoying. (This is not to say that a heavy-eyebrowed, stammering heroine with a gambling problem is not awesome! But that imagined heroine deserves a better plotline than this one, which is about showing her how headstrong she is and how awesome her kind of jerktastic husband is.)

On the other hand, there are also some plot developments of GLORIOUS SPOILERS )

Also, I was totally rooting for the hero's long-suffering secretary, who was way too sane for this novel, to get together with the heroine's long-suffering middle sister, who was way too exasperated for this novel. I actually think the romance novel about them would have been twice as interesting as this one! And we could have kept all the hilarious side characters. And possibly even the wacky highwayman hijinks.

Speaking of romances that would be twice as interesting as the ones we're actually shown: last night I went to go see a production of As You Like It with [ profile] obopolsk. It was a decent if lengthy production (with gorgeous music - I am actually really excited for that company's Tempest now, coming up next, since I suspect they will do a better job with eerie atmospheric than with straight-up comedy) but I came out of it with a desperate desire to know more about Celia and Oliver and their WACKY SURPRISE ROMANCE. Partly this is because that production's Oliver had amazing comic timing and ended up one of my cast favorites, but also, I mean, look, he is a murderous Unspecial Brother on the road to reform! She is the constantly facepalming villain's daughter who is possibly in love with her cousin! I WANT TO SEE HOW THIS HAPPENS.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (eyebrows of inquiry)
I have a new one for my list of top favorite Heyers! The Talisman Ring may come only second to Cotillion as Heyer Novel That Has Brought Me Most Delight. Well, okay, maybe it is also tied with Spring Muslin. Anyway, it is HYSTERICAL, and does exactly what I love best, which is spend a lot of time poking loving fun at ridiculous gothic tropes!

The plot: Eustacie, a beautiful young French girl rescued from the Terror (all right, in a thoroughly legitimate fashion three years before anything actually started happening, but SHE MIGHT HAVE GONE TO THE GUILLOTINE, OKAY, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN VERY DRAMATIC) is fleeing an arranged marriage with a Thoroughly Unromantic Older Cousin(he UTTERLY REFUSED to ride at breakneck pace to her deathbed! Because he thinks she is quite unlikely to die!) when she runs into . . . her LONG-LOST COUSIN LUDOVIC, the RIGHTFUL HEIR, who has BEEN FALSELY ACCUSED OF MURDER over a MYSTERIOUS TALISMAN RING and has now BECOME A SMUGGLER!

Eustacie and Ludovic promptly launch into a series of very romantic schemes to prove his innocence, while Eustacie's long-suffering ex-fiance/cousin Tristram tries to keep Ludovic from getting picked up by the police or accidentally murdered in an excess of drama. He has the very excellent help of Sarah Thorne, BEST CHARACTER EVER, who wanders into the middle of all the drama while accompanying her brother around England, decides this is the most utterly hilarious series of events she has ever encountered, and convinces her brother to stay so she can help out and assist with project Help Ludovic Not Get Himself Killed!

There is so much hilarity and genre-mockery in this book, guys. Mild spoilers! )

Thanks to [ profile] areyoumymemmy for pointing out that this was an excellent Heyer and should be moved up my list! My current Heyer rankings go I think as follows:

The Talisman Ring
and Sprig Muslin (tied!)
The Corinthian
The Unknown Ajax
The Masqueraders
The Grand Sophy
Regency Buck
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (eyebrows of inquiry)
The Grand Sophy is on a lot of people's lists of Favorite Heyers. It is not my favorite, I think - so far I still love Cotillion and Sprig Muslin best - but it is still pretty hilarious!

The Grand Sophy is basically The One With The Force Of Nature, i.e. Sophy. Sophy sweeps into her cousin's lives and promptly decides that they are all engaged to marry the wrong people and everything is quite wrong and that she is going to set it right! Cunningly! And with some horse theft! In true Heyer fashion, this necessitates a good many hijinks and culminates in a slapstick grand finale involving every major and minor character, a mustard poultice, and a basket of ducklings. There is also an oblivious and terrible poet and a Spanish countess whose idea of entertaining visitors in a grand fashion is to invite them to take a nap with her.

(This is another Heyer where I don't actually ship the main romantic couple at all, but then, I would find it hard to ship Sophy with anyone, because she's terrifying. Except maybe Francis Crawford of Lymond. The mental image of her setting calmly out to right all of his backstory angst gives me kind of a lot of joy!)

WARNING: There is a really awkwardly anti-Semitic scene smack in the middle of the book that I was glad to have been forewarned about, involving an Evil Jewish Moneylender in the good old Victorian style. :\ Though . . . . now I think about it, it is not that substantially different from the Jewish diamond dealer scene in Sarah Connor Chronicles, except that Sophy does not actually kill the guy . . .
skygiants: Mae West (model lady)
Georgette Heyer has pretty much been my stress-relief reading of choice this year; no matter how ridiculous the plots and romances, I never fail to giggle my way through her books!

Regency Buck is mostly notable because of the gloriously ridiculous plot; Spunky Judith and her Dumb Would-Be Dandy Brother Perry, recently orphaned and left with a significant fortune, show up in London to find out that their father has accidentally made a hot twentysomething gentleman their guardian. Awkward! Hijinks, of course, ensue. There is a plot to murder Perry and marry Judith, and anyone who has ever read a romance novel before will guess the culprit within twenty pages but that does not make it any less enjoyable to read about the poisoned snuff!!!! and the WACKY KIDNAPPING!!!! (My favorite part is how Perry pops back up after the kidnapping all "DUDE I GOT TO SPEND A WEEK IN A BOAT I LOVE BOATS CAN I HAVE ONE PLEASE PLEASE DAD I MEAN HOT TWENTYSOMETHING GUARDIAN PLEASE?") The best character is without a doubt Beau Brummell, legendary dandy, who gives the heroine hilarious advice on how to Be Original and Spunky and spends the rest of the book making sarcastic remarks.

Sylvester, on the other hand, is most fun because of the meta. The heroine has written a gothic novel and stolen the hero's evil-looking eyebrows for the villianous uncle; when everyone becomes convinced he's going to propose to her (he's not) that she runs away with her BFF Tom just to escape the OVERWHELMING AWKWARD. A heroine after my own heart! It grows even MORE awkward when she finds out that he actually has been left sole guardianship of his nephew, and half the town is convinced that he is totally an evil uncle for serious. OOPS. The completely platonic relationship between Phoebe and her BFF Tom is awesome, especially the bits where he's all "Well . . . uh . . . I guess if you're really in deep trouble we could elope . . ." and she is like "no offense but EW NO" and he is like "OH THANK GOD." It also has an awesome device that I have seen Heyer use before really well, which is a bunch of people getting trapped in an inn together and developing a really nice bantery cameraderie that is just fun to read. There is also another hilarious kidnapping and hijinks involving tragically destroyed boots. Lots of fun!
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (a l'aube d'une monde)
Two very different books to log today! The first is Georgette Heyer's The Masqueraders, aka (One Of) The Ones With The Crossdressing. What differentiates this from most Wacky Crossdressing Romances is that while the heroine is placidly wandering around dressed as a boy, her brother is also scampering around disguised as a girl. Equal-opportunity crossdressing is a rare and awesome thing, so I do not even care that the reasons for the disguise are ridiculously implausible at best. And everyone's biggest concern about the brother's disguise is that he might hear Inappropriate Things when he is hanging out with the ladies, and he is like, 'no no, no fear, I will make SURE to turn the conversation away from Inappropriate Lady Talk.' The hero's bouts of Authoritativeness might have turned me off of him, except that a.) the heroine calmly ignores him most of the time and b.) the big joke about the hero is that he is basically a mountain of a human being, and, let's face it, I am easily amused. So this was pretty much my experience of reading his scenes:

HERO: *enters the room and makes incisive, authoritative comment*
BROTHER: Oh look, sister, it's your large gentleman.
BECCA: Heehee! Large gentleman.

And I really liked how sensible and calm the heroine was, and also got to wave the occasional sharp pointy thing without being unbelievably expert about it. So: not my favorite Heyer read so far, but a lot of fun, and a worthy addition to my ever-growing mental database of wacky crossdressing adventures.

After that I switched gears completely out of escapism-land and turned to Daniel Alarcon's Lost City Radio. My roommate was actually the one who checked this out of the library. I read a few pages on the way home from that library trip, and was hooked enough when it came time to return it, I sidled over and asked the librarians if they could check it out again under my name.

This is a book about a city and a war. There are a few main characters, the chief among them being Norma, the host of a radio show that takes calls from people looking for those who have gone missing or disappeared in the war, now over - but the city and the war are what really come to life in the novel, and it's beautifully and painfully done. Although there's nothing overtly fantastic in the book except the phantasmic and pointless nature of the war itself, I kept thinking of China Mieville as I was reading the book. I think it's because he has this same ability to draw a place and a scenario that are more important and alive than any of the characters involved. That's not always a good thing - but for this book, I think it is.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (at the library!)
I picked up Jamaica Kincaid's At the Bottom of the River at a book-stall in NY, after flipping through it and realizing that the first short story was Girl, which I have read in several short-story classes and been extremely impressed by every time.

'Book of short stories', it turns out, is kind of a deceptive term; the very untraditional 'Girl' is probably the most traditional of the lot, and the rest veer consistently more in the direction of prose poetry. They are complicated, disorienting and dense with imagery. It is very easy just to follow the words and lose track of the themes underneath if you're not careful. My favorite after "Girl" was probably "My Mother", which draws one of the most fascinating and honest portraits of mother-daughter relationships that I have ever read.

It does not feel quite right to add in the Georgette Heyer which I read yesterday to the At the Bottom of the River booklogging post, just because the two are such utter opposites in, um, everything, but in interests of not clogging up people's flists I will anyways. Sprig Muslin is another one of those Heyer books that, while consistently described as a romance, probably should not be so, because it is most interested in turning romantic convention on its head and then pointing and laughing at it (in a good-natured way). A good-looking and eligible bachelor who lost his True Love in a Tragic Accident long ago decides it's his duty to wed, and therefore he ought to propose to his quiet spinster friend with whom he can live in amiable amity for the rest of his days. Along the way, however, he encounters a Spirited Seventeen-year-old who has run away from home and decided to become someone's governess, or possibly chambermaid, or dairymaid if all else fails. Our Hero decides that it is his responsibility to get her home safely. Hijinks, obviously, ensue, but since this is Heyer, it's not really a spoiler to say that they are not the kind that the reader - and all the other characters, who also know how this storyline works - would expect. Heyer loves subverting appearances and expectations, and the result is generally hilarity. My favorite thing about the book is a spoiler, though, so I cut! )

Today I go to the awesome local library! I have made Library Rules for myself to prevent myself falling into reading ruts. Expect many moar booklogging posts. You are forewarned.


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