My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am slowly making my way through Georgette Heyer’s novels. Not having read much of her before, I am finding that I am pleasantly surprised by her detail and knowledge of period fiction!
Arabella was a fast read for me. The plot was predictable but as usual Heyer develops it cleverly, and her characterization and dialogue are almost always entertaining!
Arabella is a likable heroine, although naive, young and impetuous. Of course she meets her match in the rich and highly esteemed member of society, Mr. Beaumaris. EVERYONE wants to court Mr. Beaumaris. EVERYONE wants his notice, his esteem, and his help in achieving position in society. EVERYONE, that is, except for Arabella Tallant!
Arabella travels to London to stay with her aunt who is better placed financially to bring Arabella out into society and find her a good catch. Arabella’s family is, although not impoverished, in need of financial security, and her mother’s hopes are to find Arabella a husband who is kind enough to take on not only her daughter but the family’s financial needs.
Problems arise from the very first meeting though with Mr. Beaumaris, who although he more than ‘fits the bill’, is found to be proud and irritating in Arabella’s estimation! (Shades of “Pride and Prejudice”? well, maybe in just this one respect, as most of the novel has a vastly different plot.)
“The dinner, which consisted of two courses, seemed to Arabella sumptuous beyond her wildest imaginings. No suspicion crossed her mind that her host, after one swift glance at his board, had resigned himself to the knowledge that the reputation of himself and his cook had been placed in jeopardy; or that that artist in the kitchen, having, with strange Gallic imprecations which made his various assistants quake, rent limb from limb two half-roasted Davenport fowls, and flung them into a pan with a bechamel sauce and some tarragons, was even now, as he arranged a basket of pastry on a dish, undecided whether to leave this dishonored house on the instant, or to cut his throat with the larger carving knife.”
Arabella finds herself boasting of imagined wealth so as to put Mr. Beaumaris in his place, and finds that she will live to regret her boast not once, but several times, as he puts himself forward to aid her both in society and in a sibling’s downfall into debt.
This novel was a fun and fast read! I am looking forward to reading more of Heyer, as I have not yet formed a solid opinion of her. Some of her books I have enjoyed, others, I could have passed on. This one was worth the read!