I love Georgette Heyer’s regency romances and this might be my favourite one.
Here’s the blurb …
Miles from anywhere, Darracott Place is presided over by elderly Lord Darracott. Irascible Lord Darracott rules his barony with a firm hand. The tragic accident that killed his eldest son by drowning has done nothing to improve his temper. For now, he must send for the next heir apparent–the unknown offspring of the uncle whom the family is never permitted to mention. He also summons his bickering descendants to the rundown family estate. Yet none of that beleaguered family are prepared for the arrival of the weaver’s brat and heir apparent…
This was a lot of fun with all of the usual Heyerisms – lots of cant terms, silly young man, sensible (not to mention wealthy) slightly older man, a bit of action and amazing historical research. And the ending is particularly clever and inventive.
Here’s a fabulous article from Jennifer Kloester (she wrote a biography of Heyer).
Miss A, who works in a book store, told me all of the ‘Old Ladies’ were buying this book and she thought I might like it. She was right.
Here’s the blurb …
A high society amateur detective at the heart of Regency London uses her wits and invisibility as an ‘old maid’ to protect other women in a new and fiercely feminist historical mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Alison Goodman.
Lady Augusta Colebrook, “Gus,” is determinedly unmarried, bored by society life, and tired of being dismissed at the age of forty-two. She and her twin sister, Julia, who is grieving her dead betrothed, need a distraction. One soon presents to rescue their friend’s goddaughter, Caroline, from her violent husband.
The sisters set out to Caroline’s country estate with a plan, but their carriage is accosted by a highwayman. In the scuffle, Gus accidentally shoots and injures the ruffian, only to discover he is Lord Evan Belford, an acquaintance from their past who was charged with murder and exiled to Australia twenty years ago. What follows is a high adventure full of danger, clever improvisation, heart-racing near misses, and a little help from a revived and rather charming Lord Evan.
Back in London, Gus can’t stop thinking about her unlikely (not to mention handsome) comrade-in-arms. She is convinced Lord Evan was falsely accused of murder, and she is going to prove it. She persuades Julia to join her in a quest to help Lord Evan, and others in need—society be damned! And so begins the beguiling secret life and adventures of the Colebrook twins.
This is part regency romance and part action and adventure. Our heroines Augusta and Julia are mature – 42 (no less), which I think is a good thing. Think of the novels of Georgette Heyer mixed with an adventure story (where things don’t always go to plan) and along the way we learn some history – most of it quite awful (the virgin cure? mental asylums for women – locked up because their guardians (husbands, brothers, fathers) found them annoying). Our hero, Lord Evan, is on the run after returning to England before completing his sentence for killing someone in a duel (I am sure there will be more about that in a later novel). The way they all meet is brilliant, but no spoilers here. The language is very heyeresque and the world building (creating regency England) is well done.
I had about this novel at book club and I bought a copy as a gift, which came back to me so I could read it too – perfect gift.
Here’s the blurb …
A stunning and magisterial new epic of love, faith, and medicine, set in Kerala and following three generations of a family seeking the answers to a strange secret. Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water is set in Kerala, on South India’s Malabar Coast, and follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning—and in Kerala, water is everywhere. The family is part of a Christian community that traces itself to the time of the apostles, but times are shifting, and the matriarch of this family, known as Big Ammachi—literally “Big Mother”—will witness unthinkable changes at home and at large over the span of her extraordinary life. All of Verghese’s great gifts are on display in this new work: there are astonishing scenes of medical ingenuity, fantastic moments of humor, a surprising and deeply moving story, and characters imbued with the essence of life.
A shimmering evocation of a lost India and of the passage of time itself, The Covenant of Water is a hymn to progress in medicine and to human understanding, and a humbling testament to the hardships undergone by past generations for the sake of those alive today. It is one of the most masterful literary novels published in recent years.
I read Cutting for Stone – a few years ago and enjoyed it, so I was keen to read this one. It is quite the epic, over 700 pages, but, unusually, I didn’t think it could do with some editing. It’s beautifully evocative. The settings, the characters, the family “condition” where every generation someone (or multiple people) drown were intriguing and compelling. At its heart it’s about love and family.
The last of the Frederica Potter series. I enjoyed this one more than number 3 (Babel Tower).
Here’s the blurb …
The Booker Prize-winning author of Possession delivers a brilliant and thought-provoking novel about the 1960s and how the psychology, science, religion, ethics, and radicalism of the times affected ordinary lives.
“Rich, acerbic, wise…. [Byatt] tackles nothing less than what it means to be human.” — Vogue
Frederica Potter, a smart, spirited 33-year-old single mother, lucks into a job hosting a groundbreaking television talk show based in London. Meanwhile, in her native Yorkshire where her lover is involved in academic research, the university is planning a prestigious conference on body and mind, and a group of students and agitators is establishing an “anti-university.” And nearby a therapeutic community is beginning to take the shape of a religious cult under the influence of its charismatic religious leader.
A Whistling Woman portrays the antic, thrilling, and dangerous period of the late ‘60s as seen through the eyes of a woman whose life is forever changed by her times.
These novels are full of detail and information, which I love. I read a review where someone was complaining about the description of clothes, but I love that. These novels are rich in description, literary allusions, science, etc.
I am still listening to the Frederica Potter series of novels, this one is number three. These novels have so much going on – there is stories within stories. There is the plot of the novel and then there is bits of Babel Tower (a novel written by one of the characters) and there is another story written by yet another character. The novels are full of literary, scientific and art references. The characters are articulate.
Here’s the blurb …
Babel Tower follows The Virgin in the Garden and Still Life in tracing Frederica Potter, a lover of books who reflects the author’s life and times. It centers around two lawsuits: in one, Frederica — a young intellectual who has married outside her social set — is challenging her wealthy and violent husband for custody of their child; in the other, an unkempt but charismatic rebel is charged with having written an obscene book, a novel-within-a-novel about a small band of revolutionaries who attempt to set up an ideal community. And in the background, rebellion gains a major toehold in the London of the Sixties, and society will never be the same.
I had forgotten how much I enjoyed reading these novels – I remember waiting impatiently for the final one to be released. They’re interesting; there are a variety of characters of all sorts (weird, clever, violent, angry, kind, mad) and I think it gives the reader an insight into life in the 1960s and 70s as a clever and ambitious woman.
This was a mothers day gift from the lovely Miss A. I have already read A Perfect Equation and was keen to read more of Ms Everett’s work.
Here’s the blurb …
You couldn’t design a better hero than the very eligible and extremely charming Earl Grantham. Unless, of course, you are Margaret Gault, who wants nothing to do with the man who broke her youthful heart.
Widowed and determined, Margaret Gault has returned to Athena’s Retreat and the welcoming arms of her fellow secret scientists with an ambitious plan in mind: to establish England’s first woman-owned engineering firm. But from the moment she sets foot in London her plans are threatened by greedy investors and–at literally every turn–the irritatingly attractive Earl Grantham, a man she can never forgive.
George Willis, the Earl Grantham, is thrilled that the woman he has loved since childhood has returned to London. Not as thrilling, however, is her decision to undertake an engineering commission from his political archnemesis. When Margaret’s future and Grantham’s parliamentary reforms come into conflict, Grantham must use every ounce of charm he possesses–along with his stunning good looks and flawless physique, of course–to win Margaret over to his cause.
Facing obstacles seemingly too large to dismantle, will Grantham and Margaret remain forever disconnected or can they find a way to bridge their differences, rekindle the passion of their youth, and construct a love built to last?
I would describe this novel as a grown-up romance; Margaret is independent and self-reliant, she is not looking to be rescued or swept off her feet. In this series, the women are scientists, engineers, mathematicians, biologists, etc who want to participate in the world. Having said that, there are still traditional romance elements; the hero is an earl, Margaret is beautiful.
If you enjoy romance and romantic comedies, than this novel is for you.
I listened to this on Borrowbox, I found it strangely compelling.
Here’s the blurb …
Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.
In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.
If you want to learn about America in the great depression, the drought (and the consequent dust bowl), and the start of unionisation, then this is the book for you. I had no idea it was such a terribly grim time with what essentially amounted to indentured servitude.
It is beautifully written, with a wonderful sense of place and truly alive characters. It is grim though with very few uplifting moments.
A captivating and moving new novel from the international bestselling author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos.
A nearly abandoned Italian village, the family that stayed, and long-buried secrets from World War II.
On a hilltop in Umbria sits Valetto. Once a thriving village-and a hub of resistance and refuge during World War II-centuries of earthquakes, landslides and the lure of a better life have left it neglected. Only ten residents remain, including the widows Serafino – three eccentric sisters and their steely centenarian mother – who live quietly in their medieval villa. Then their nephew and grandson, Hugh, a historian, returns.
But someone else has arrived before him, laying claim to the cottage where Hugh spent his childhood summers. The unwelcome guest is the captivating and no-nonsense Elisa Tomassi, who asserts that the family patriarch, Aldo Serafino, a resistance fighter whom her own family harboured, gave the cottage to them in gratitude. Like so many threads of history, this revelation unravels a secret – a betrayal, a disappearance and an unspeakable act of violence – that has impacted Valetto across generations. Who will answer for the crimes of the past?
I enjoyed it, but not as much as The Last Painting of Sarah de Vos. It is very evocative of place, I could almost taste the food they were eating. Beautifully written, I really wanted everything to work out for Hugh, Elisa and Elisa’s mother.
Set in the 19th century, The Romantic is the story of life itself. Following the roller-coaster fortunes of a man as he tries to negotiate the random stages, adventures and vicissitudes of his existence, from being a soldier to a pawnbroker, from being a jailbird to a gigolo to a diplomat – this is an intimate yet sweeping epic.
We follow the life of Cashel Greville Rosse, from his Irish early childhood, to suburban Oxford, the army (and of course Waterloo), India, Europe (where he meets Shelley and Byron), Africa (to find the source of the Nile), America (where he farms and starts a brewing company)A and back to Europe. It’s quite the ride.
I did enjoy this novel, but it’s not my favourite Boyd novel – that would be Any Human Heart. I felt this one was a bit long and could have done with some editing. It is, however, beautifully written and well-researched (without the research being obvious). Cashel was a sympathetic character and I wanted everything to work out for him.
We had a long weekend (Labour Day?) and I wanted something fun to read. A Love by Design was recommended, but that hasn’t been released in Australia yet, so I went with this, the second novel of The Secret Scientists of London series (having not read the first one, but that didn’t matter).
Here’s the blurb …
How do you solve the Perfect Equation? Add one sharp-tongued mathematician to an aloof, handsome nobleman. Divide by conflicting loyalties and multiply by a daring group of women hell-bent on conducting their scientific experiments. The solution is a romance that will break every rule.
Six years ago, Miss Letitia Fenley made a mistake, and she’s lived with the consequences ever since. Readying herself to compete for the prestigious Rosewood Prize for Mathematics, she is suddenly asked to take on another responsibility—managing Athena’s Retreat, a secret haven for England’s women scientists. Having spent the last six years on her own, Letty doesn’t want the offers of friendship from other club members and certainly doesn’t need any help from the insufferably attractive Lord Greycliff.
Lord William Hughes, the Viscount Greycliff cannot afford to make any mistakes. His lifelong dream of becoming the director of a powerful clandestine agency is within his grasp. Tasked with helping Letty safeguard Athena’s Retreat, Grey is positive that he can control the antics of the various scientists as well as manage the tiny mathematician—despite their historic animosity and simmering tension.
As Grey and Letty are forced to work together, their mutual dislike turns to admiration and eventually to something… magnetic. When faced with the possibility that Athena’s Retreat will close forever, they must make a choice. Will Grey turn down a chance to change history, or can Letty get to the root of the problem and prove that love is the ultimate answer?
This was great; witty, well-written, obviously well-researched. I’m looking forward to the next one.