Frederica by Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer

Frederica is my second Heyer read, the first one was Black Sheep which I reviewed here. I enjoyed Black Sheep so I was expecting a similar read, but surprisingly – I actually liked Frederica even more! Maybe it was because this novel was more funny in many aspects than Black Sheep was, so I was smiling more often.

Frederica Merriville is the oldest daughter in the Merriville family and used to raising her siblings and running the household. In this story, her sister Charis is about to have her first season. Frederica is determined that because Charis is so beautiful and unaffected, she should come out in London, so she appeals to the Marquis of Alverstoke, a distant relation. Alverstoke is used to people asking him for things and saying no, but on a whim decides to pretend he was charged my Frederica's dead father to be a guardian to her younger siblings. Alverstoke believes with little work on his part, he'll have some fun, irritate his sisters and go back to his life. What ends up happening is that he gets sucked into the crazy Merriville family antics, and surprisingly finds himself caring for them, especially Frederica, except for the very first time, he's dealing with a woman who is more concerned about her family than his attentions.

This book seemed to be an easier read for me than Black Sheep, but I think it's because reading the first book made me more experienced with Heyer's regency slang, so this time it didn't take me as long to understand what someone was saying! The only confusion I had was sometimes forgetting who was related to who how, but I discovered this useful family tree online (now that I finished the book of course it's useless to me, but may be useful to someone else).

So there were a few funny moments in this book, and I think I'm with many people when I say I enjoyed the scene(s) with the dog (Baluchistan Hound!), and most scenes where Alverstoke finds himself being manipulated by Frederica's younger two brothers. I can understand why this is many people's favorite Heyer novel. Glad I picked this one!

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Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer

Black Sheep
Georgette Heyer

It's been a while since I posted – I'm not reading very much lately. Not doing well in the goal of 100 books for the year. Only 26 books this year! Half of the amount I had read at the same time last year. Sigh.

In the past couple of weeks I've been slowly reading Georgette Heyer's novel Black Sheep. I won this in a contest at the Misadventures of Super Librarian blog, and I'm glad because I'd never read a Georgette Heyer book but I kept hearing about them. Mostly about how great and well-researched they are but out of print, and how fans hoard them like treasure and reread them over and over again. I also kept hearing a comparison to Jane Austen since Heyer writes in the regency period – in fact she is considered the person who began the regency romance genre.

I agree with the Jane Austen comparison because Black Sheep was really about characters and society. There is a lot of emphasis on manners and what is considered acceptable to say and do, and the story progresses from one social outing to another, peppered with histronic relatives, town gossips, and "loose fish". The language is very formal and structured, even when characters speak with the regency equivalent of slang, there is a great deal of formality in it. There is also a great deal of subtle humor.

In Black Sheep, the basic premise is that the main character, Abigail (Abby) Wendover, on the shelf at 28 is concerned for her niece Fanny. She's heard that Fanny, who is only seventeen has attracted the attentions of a young man, Stacy Calverleigh, who is likely after Fanny's inheritance, nothing more. Abby is put in a situation where she can't forbid Fanny to see Stacy because she fears Fanny will consider herself a martyr and run off, but she can't allow Fanny to think the family approves either. Abby meets Stacy's uncle Miles, the black sheep of the Calverleigh family, and tries to get him to help her, but while she finds someone she gets along with very well, in Miles she also meets someone completely unaffected by societal rules. If something doesn't make sense to him, he won't do it. Miles has never met Stacy and he can't be persuaded to care about what Stacy does.

I read this book for a few minutes every night and finished it off when I was on the train this weekend. For me, this was a book I had to read slowly because I wasn't used to the language – there were several points where I just didn't understand what a character just said because they used some regency phrase that isn't in use today. So I had to read carefully to absorb it and it took me a lot longer to read 20 pages in this book than in other books. In the end the read was worth it – I felt pretty satisfied with the ending. Even though there is an open ended aspect to it, there was enough for me to feel like there was one, both to what was going on with Abby and Miles but also with Fanny and Stacy and other secondary characters. And now here is someone else to read if you have already read all of Jane Austen.

The Georgette Heyer novels being reprinted by Sourcebooks are listed here (all lovely covers)

And here is a contest for one of 4 Georgette Heyer novels at

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