I only discovered Georgette Heyer recently and I really enjoyed her novel The Convenient Marriage (1934). I was really sad that I had read almost all of Jane Austen’n novels, as they are so much fun, but you can only read them once for the first time. Now Georgette Heyer does have a different style and there are quite some things going on and scandals abound. But it somehow has a similar feel and if you are looking for “new” Jane Austen type novels, look no further.
The Earl of Rule has proposed to Elizabeth Winwood, but even though he is obscenely rich, Elizabeth is reluctant to accept the offer, as she already has a sweetheart she was hoping to marry. But the family needs the money, not least because her older brother Pelham is horribly stuck in gambling debts. But her youngest sister Horatia feels obliged to save her happiness: She asks the Earl to marry her instead and surprisingly he consents. So this marriage is simply one of convenience, but Horatia wants to be a good wife. But being so young and inexperienced she is soon tempted by the life of London’s rich elite – and Lord Lethbridge has also cast an eye on the young lady…
I was a little confused at first. I was convinced that Elizabeth was going to be the heroine and then it was suddenly all about Horatia. But I found her a refreshing heroine. She has very obvious faults, but that makes her only more human and likable. She also has a stammer and I like it that Georgette Heyer has created such a normal and artless heroine. Horatia has her own views and principles and doesn’t really care for etiquette, but she has a strong sense of what’s morally right and wrong, even though her views are sometimes challenged.
The characters are all so lively and you are as intrigued and fascinated by some as you are repulsed and entertained by others. The plot is always driving forwards, but here you just don’t quite know how things are going to end. The marriage comes early in the book, so it’s not like Jane Austen in that sense. There is also a lot going on, meaning there are abductions, gossip, swordfights, gambling and carriage races. Sounds scandalous? It is indeed!
Even though written much later, The Convenient Marriage is set just a little before Jane Austen’s time and will thus entertain readers of classics like Pride and Prejudice. It’s a bit like a more modern version of Austen with more action and more scandal, which will keep you hooked until the end. So for everyone who is into romantic fiction set in the Georgian era, this will be an enjoyable read for you. If you are an audio book fan as well, there is a brilliant recording by Richard Armitage, which I can heartily recommend. I am looking forward to reading more of Georgette Heyer’s works.