The Return of Thursday Quotables! Spotlight on Venetia by Georgette Heyer

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Welcome to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

Blogger’s note: Thank you, kind readers, for putting up with my summertime slacking! Now that it’s September, there will be no further excuses — Thursday Quotables is back! After taking a summer break, I’m back on track and will be sticking with my normal weekly posting schedule. Please join me whenever you have a great quotable to share!

My Thursday Quotable for this week:

 Venetia by Georgette Heyer
(originally published 1958 )

I am on a roll this year with Georgette Heyer! Venetia is my 4th book by this wonderful author, and it’s just delightful. I’m listening to the audiobook (with excellent narration by Phyllida Nash), and loving every moment. I still have quite a ways to go, but thought I’d share this passage, which is interesting to me because it does not represent the main character’s opinion, but rather shows the viewpoint of an older woman who’s trying to explain men (and their infidelities) to the lovely (and more progressive) Venetia:

“Men, my love, are different from us,” she had said once, “even the best of them! I tell you this because I hold it to be very wrong to rear girls in the belief that the face men show to the females they respect is their only one. I daresay, if we were to see them watching some horrid vulgar prize-fight, or in company with women of a certain class, we shouldn’t recognise our own husbands and brothers. I am sure we should think them disgusting! Which, in some ways, they are, only it would be unjust to blame them for what they can’t help. One ought rather to be thankful that any affairs they may have amongst what they call the muslin company don’t change their true affection in the least. Indeed, I fancy affection plays no part in such adventures. So odd! — for we, you know, could scarcely indulge in them with no more effect on our lives than if we had been choosing a new hat. But so it is with men! Which is why it has been most truly said that while your husband continues to show you tenderness you have no cause for complaint, and would be a zany to fall into despair only because of what to him was a mere peccadillo. ‘Never seek to pry into what does not concern you, but rather look in the opposite direction!’ was what my dear mother told me, and very good advice I have found it.

Yeah, no. But thanks anyway, Lady Denny.

And I do love the use of the word “zany” as a noun — I think I need to start using it in conversation.

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Add your Thursday Quotables post link in the comments section below… and I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week too.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

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Audiobook Review: Arabella by Georgette Heyer


To Arabella Tallant, the eldest daughter of a penniless country clergyman, the invitation to stay with her London godmother was like the key to heaven, for in addition to living in the glamorous city, Arabella might even find a suitable husband there. Armed with beauty, virtue and a benevolent godmother, the impetuous but impoverished Arabella embarked on her first London season with her mother’s wish in mind: snare a rich husband.

Impetuosity is Arabella’s only fault. When fate cast her in the path of arrogant, socially prominent Robert Beaumaris, who accused her of being another petty female after his wealth, the proud, headstrong ingenue made a most startling claim — she was an heiress! Suddenly Arabella found herself the talk of the town and pursued by every amorous fortune hunter in London and some of the most eligible young men of the day.

But only one caught Arabella’s fancy: Mr Beaumaris, the handsome and dedicated bachelor. She should know better than to allow herself to be provoked by nonpareil Beau. That gentleman, however, although a most artful matrimonial dodger, badly underestimated his seemingly naive adversary… But would her deceitful charade destroy her one chance for true love…?

I think Georgette Heyer will now be my go-to author for when I need something to lighten the mood. Because Arabella is absolutely delightful, and listening to the audiobook was the perfect antidote for a major, crabby funk.

Arabella has a wonderfully rom-com feel to it. Arabella overhears Mr. Beaumaris making a snide remark about girls looking for money coming up with excuses to cross paths with him, and she is so offended that she’s being lumped in with fortune-hunters (when it was really a carriage mishap that brought her to his doorstep) that she impetuously declares herself to be “the” Miss Tallant — you know, the fabulously rich Miss Tallant. Oh my.

Before she knows it, Arabella is the center of the London season, as every son of distinguished but cash-poor family seems to suddenly be in love with the dear girl. She’s turning down marriage proposals left and right, and meanwhile feels increasingly guilty that her spur-of-the-moment lie has become the accepted truth. So how can she ever say yes to a proposal knowing she does so under false pretenses? And given the butterflies she’s feeling over Mr. Beaumaris, how can she force herself to confess the truth to him and lose his respect and affection?

What a tangled web we weave…

The story may be a trifle predictable — yes, we all know where this love story will end up — but it’s such fun to see how we get there. Mr. Beaumaris is the epitome of fashionable society. All the young men hoping for society standing copy his style, his manners, even his sardonic little tweaks to propriety (for example, after he wears a dandelion in his buttonhole, suddenly all the young men flood London florists with demands for dandelions). He’s known in town as “the nonpareil”, and his presence at any gathering automatically lends it cachet. It’s entertaining to watch people fall all over themselves to interact with Mr. Beaumaris, and the reader (listener) catches on long before Arabella does that he’s both fond of her and is onto her little secret.

There’s a dark cloud in Arabella, as Arabella’s younger brother comes to London as well and tries to live the high life. As he indulges in high fashion, parties, gambling, and gaming houses, he falls into such extreme debt that he sees either death or enlistment as his only options. This is a light-hearted novel, so obviously things work out (I won’t say how), but it’s touch and go for a while there, and I honestly worried about him.

I occasionally had a little twinge of discomfort about Arabella’s relationship with Mr. Beaumaris. She’s seventeen, and he’s a very sophisticated and polished thirty. Not an unimaginable age difference, but there are times where it seems that what he loves about her most is her innocent youth and naivete, and there were a few times where it teetered on the edge of creeper-ness for me.

Now I’m making it sound weird, and it’s really not. Overall, I found Arabella utterly charming, and loved the main character as well as the depictions of all the silly upper class foolery that makes up high society and the London season.

As for the audiobook, it’s a wonderful listen. Narrator Phyllida Nash nails Arabella’s innocence and enthusiasm, as well as Mr. Beaumaris’s haughtiness and dry humor. The only two difficulties with listening to the audiobook are 1) the author uses a lot of terminology related to society matters, fashion, types of carriages, and so on, many of which I wasn’t familiar with — but it’s hard to stop to figure out while listening to an audiobook (especially when said listening is happening while driving a car), and 2) at some point the pace got frustrating for me. Arabella isn’t exactly a suspense novel, but as Arabella gets more and more snared by her made-up story and torn between her feelings for Mr. Beaumaris, her urgent need to help her brother, and her wish for honesty, I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened next — but I had to, since my listening time was parceled out between my drives to and from work.

Arabella would be a great point of entry for anyone considering giving Georgette Heyer a try for the first time, and it’s certain to please anyone who’s already enjoyed some of her books. As for me, I will definitely seek out more Georgette Heyer novels, especially when I find myself in need of a bit of cheering up.

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The details:

Title: Arabella
Author: Georgette Heyer
Narrator: Phyllida Nash
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication date: Originally published 1949
Length (print): 312 pages
Length (audiobook): 10 hours, 43 minutes
Genre: Regency romance
Source: Purchased

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Take A Peek Book Review: These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.

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Synopsis:

(via Goodreads)

Under the reign of Louis XV, corruption and intrigue have been allowed to blossom in France, and Justin Alastair, the notorious Duke of Avon and proud of his soubriquet ‘Satanas’, flourishes as well. Then, from a dark Parisian back alley, he plucks Leon, a redheaded urchin with strangely familiar looks, just in time for his long over-due schemes of revenge on the Comte de St. Vire. Among the splendours of Versailles and the dignified mansions of England, Justin begins to unfold his sinister plans — until, that is, Leon becomes the ravishing beauty Leonie…

Unanswered questions.

Lovely, titian-haired Leonie, ward of the dashing Duke of Avon, had all Paris at her feet. Yet her true origins remained shrouded in mystery. And neither the glittering soirees nor the young aristocrats who so ardently courted her could still the question that plagued her young heart.

What was her mysterious parentage?

Just one man held the secret, the one she feared most in the world–the iron-willed Comte de Saint-Vire, deadly enemy of the Duke. He would give her the answer–for a price. But could she betray the man she secretly, helplessly loved? And could this proud young beauty bear to face the truth when it came?

My Thoughts:

I’m sold! Until this month, I had never read a Georgette Heyer book — until my book club selected Devil’s Cub for our February book of the month. I really enjoyed Devil’s Cub, and once I realized that it was a sequel (kind of) to These Old Shades, I simply had to read this one as well.

These Old Shades is even better than Devil’s Cub, in my humble opinion. The Duke of Avon is just everything you could want in a hero of a Regency romance — he’s of the nobility, has a terrible reputation, is incredibly self-assured and handsome… but turns out to have a smooshy heart just waiting for the right person to come along and melt it. Léonie is a delight — an unpolished young girl, masquerading as a boy, who falls head over heels for her rescuer, but never quite loses her independence, impudence, and saucy sense of humor.

The banter and social maneuverings in These Old Shades are delicious. The book is scrumptious fun, beginning to end.

More Georgette Heyer, please! If you’re a fan, let me know which book you think I should read next.

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The details:

Title: These Old Shades
Author: Georgette Heyer
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication date: Originally published 1926
Length: 386 pages
Genre: Historical romance
Source: Library

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Thursday Quotables: Devil’s Cub

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Welcome to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!
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Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer
(published 1932)

I’ve jumped on the Georgette Heyer bandwagon! I finally read one of her books (thank you, awesome book club of mine!), and thoroughly enjoyed it. You can check out my mini-review here, but meanwhile, here’s one of the many amusing little dialogues from the book:

Miss Challoner rose from her chair, and curtsied. “You are extremely obliging, my lord, but I must humbly decline the honour of becoming your wife.”

“You will marry me,” said his lordship, “if I have to force you to the altar.”

She blinked at him. “Are you mad, sir? You cannot possibly wish to marry me.”

“Of course I don’t wish to marry you!” he said impatiently. “I scarcely know you. But I play my cards in accordance with the rules. I have a number of vices, but abducting innocent damsels and casting them adrift on the world is not one of the them. Pray have a little sense, ma’am! You eloped with me, leaving word of it with your mother; if I let you go you could not reach your home again until tomorrow night at the earliest. By that time — if I know your mother and sister at all — the whole of your acquaintance will be apprised of your conduct. Your reputation will be so smirched not a soul will receive you. And this, ma’am, is to go down to my account! I tell you plainly, I’ve no mind to become an object of infamy.’

I find this character’s definition of infamy rather amusing, as earlier in the book he shot a highwayman, and later got drunk and shot a man in a duel over a card game. So shooting folks is okay, but ruining a girl’s reputation isn’t? I guess you had to be there.

(But really, it’s a very enjoyable book!)

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Add your Thursday Quotables post link in the comments section below… and I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week too.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

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