Thursday, June 25, 2015
By Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks Casablanca, August 2008
About the Book
An altogether unsatisfactory arrangement with altogether too many complications....
After their father’s death, Miss Judith Taverner and her brother Peregrine travel to London to meet their guardian, Lord Worth, expecting an elderly gentleman. To their surprise and utter disgust, their guardian is not much older than they are, doesn’t want the office of guardian any more than they want him, and is determined to thwart all their interests and return them to the country.
But when Miss Taverner and Peregrine begin to move in the highest social circles, Lord Worth cannot help but entangle himself with his adventuresome wards...
“Newark was left behind and the post-chaise-and-four entered on a stretch of flat country which offered little to attract the eye, or occasion remark.”
Georgette Heyer was a wonderful writer. A beloved writer, in fact, known for her regency romances in particular. Her books are rich in detail—but not in a burdening, cumbersome way. And her characters are always nicely drawn from human nature. Flaws abound, but that’s always a good thing. Vices and temptations abound in her works: drinking, gambling (be it at the gaming table or in a sporting arena), keeping bad company, and fashion, to name just a few examples. How is fashion a vice? Well, if you’re too vain or selfish and spend too much time primping in front of a mirror, then chances are you’re in for a comeuppance. Also, spending too much money on fashion—clothes, hats, gloves, jewelry, etc.—is just one way it can be a vice.
In Regency Buck we have the story of a brother and sister newly arrived in London: Peregrine Tavener, the brother, and his older sister, Judith Tavener. Both their parents have died, and the father’s will left them under the care of Lord Worth. They are coming to set up house and, perhaps even more important, to meet their guardian. They expect an older gentleman, a man who would have been their father’s contemporary. Someone with gout presumably. What they find is Julian, a young man just a handful of years older than they are. He isn’t particularly pleased with this added responsibility, and he’s not shy about admitting this to his wards. But for one year at least, until Judith’s birthday, he is their official guardian.
The Taveners set up their own house. Mrs. Scattergood, a relation of Julian’s, is Judith’s companion and chaperone, needed during that time to protect young women and provide them with counsel on how to behave in society. Of course, Peregrine, who’s prone to gambling and partying, offers protection to his sister as well, but who’s protecting him? Peregrine becomes engaged to a young woman, Harriet. Then a few strange coincidences threaten his life, convincing Julian that someone is out to kill his ward.
Judith and Peregrine stand to inherit much money when they come of age. For this reason, suitors abound for Judith’s hand. One of her most persistent suitors is her cousin Bernard Tavener. But Julian turns them all away, saying that no man will marry her while he is still her guardian—which both repulses and pleases her. She knows that some of the men are completely unsuitable. Some are as old as her father, and all are looking for a wealthy wife. But at the same time the idea of being controlled by a man irritates her.
Julian and Judith, whom he persists in calling Clorinda, are always bickering. The banter flows easily between these two. While both tend to be a bit cranky around the other, the reader knows without any doubt that they secretly feel very differently about each other.
I love Julian and Judith. I love the rich layers of Regency Buck as well, for example, Judith’s reading Sense and Sensibility. And the presence of Lord Byron and the discussion of his poetry. There are a dozen or so other things I could point out, but those are just two examples of bits that made me smile.
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