by Georgette Heyer
“The bare expanse of Finchley Common being reached, a faint hope of being held up by highwaymen sustained Miss Fairfax’s spirits for some way, but when the equipage arrived at the Whetstone gate without incident, she relapsed again into melancholy.”
This was a mildly amusing collection of stories by the great Georgette Heyer. A few of them have quite a bit to recommend them. I had previously read Pistols for Two, and had never been tempted to reread it so it had been decades since I previously perused these confections. With the addition of 3 previously uncollected stories, it was ample motivation to read the book again.
Georgette Heyer devotees will want to dip into this collection, if only because many plot points, relationships, and characters are very reminiscent of some of her beloved novels. Unfortunately, because they are short stories, there is little to no multi-layered character-building and the romances rely on instant attraction with hopefully lifelong matches made with scant interaction or conversation between the two principles. I fear for the success of many of the matches made in these stories. Most pairs seem to be very incompatible. Too many of the young ladies are young, naïve, and somewhat silly. It’s as if Gervase in The Quiet Gentleman had ended up with Marianne, or Gareth in Sprig Muslin had ended up with Amanda. There are certainly no Venetias, Fredericas, Sophys, or Arabellas in this collection! Nay, nor a Hester or a Drusilla either!
There is little of the social comedy that results from navigating the social whirl and glittering balls of the Ton in London or Bath. Nine of the fourteen stories take place largely or entirely on the road in coaches and Inns usually with a foolish elopement involved. One of the exceptions is A Husband for Fanny which was one of my favorites. Other favorites include Bath Miss, A Clandestine Affair, Pursuit, and Incident on the Bath Road.
My enjoyment of the kindle version was very marred by bad formatting. Where ever there was supposed to be an apostrophe, it was substituted by a series of weird symbols. It was distracting in the extreme and very irritating. Luckily this is a very quick read.**3 out of 5 stars**
March 29, 2021