Earlier this year, I received Cotillion by Georgette Heyer in the mail from my Book Blogger Holiday Swap buddy Melissa of the Book Nut. At the time, I purposely set it aside as a great Valentines Day read, thinking it would fit perfectly in with this month's festivities. What better way to get myself in the mood for romance than by becoming acquainted with the Lady of Love herself? And then Angie posted a link to Sarah Rees Brennan's frickin' hilarious summary of Cotillion in her The Best Couples in Books Ever! post and I was sold.
Young Kitty Charing is about to inherit a vast fortune from her grumpy, gouty Great Uncle Matthew. As his ward, Kitty has endured the somewhat dubious hospitality of the querulous, miserly gentleman for years, having put up with his mad schemes on more than one occasion. But Uncle Matthew has concocted his most harebrained scheme yet. He wants to bestow his vast fortune upon Kitty - a sheltered, fanciful miss - if only she will consent to marry one of his many grand nephews, men she has grown up with and knows well. Kitty isn't exactly against the scheme (besides the implied embarrassment of such a contract), if only a particular nephew will be offering. But he doesn't. Kitty does however receive other offers: from the staid, patronizing Reverend Hugh and the bumbling, muddled Lord Dolphinton, but both are as repulsive as they are ineffectual. Not to mention the married nephew George Biddenden, who wasn't even invited in the first place...
Understandably upset and equally devastated, Kitty hatches a scheme worthy of her great uncle's daring when she convinces her honorable (if somewhat fashion-distracted) cousin Freddy Standen to form a sham engagement with her since he has no desire to marry at all. Kitty's aims? One: enjoy life in London while visiting Freddy's family, away from the stuffy Arnside House of her youth while Two: make the renowned rake and rascal (and youthful heartthrob) Jack Westruther insanely jealous. Only Kitty is as inexperienced as she is compassionate - a combination which soon lands our young heroine in a number of scrapes requiring a quick rescue by the conscientious if not impeccably dressed, Freddy.
Starting into a Georgette Heyer for the first time was an experience not to be denied any reader. The characters and locales of Cotillion swirled around so effortlessly that I found myself drawn into their story in just a few short pages. No wonder she is known as the Queen of the Regency Romance. Heyer has a deft hand at humor and is superb at crafting witty - often downright hilarious - dialogue contrasted by lush descriptions of perfect fashion and society gossip at its best. Although highly original in terms of plot, praise must be heaped upon Ms. Heyer for her delightful prose. I don't know the last time I read a book that used words such as "clodpole" "I'd as lief.." "plant a facer" and "a rum touch." Devilishly entertaining.
Kitty and Freddy make quite the dashing couple - of course, both have impeccable taste in clothing (a most important quality) and both, for lack of a better word, are just so sweet. Freddy graciously agrees to squire Kitty to various London sights (under protest) and could not be more horrified with the sight of those famed Elgin Marbles:
"Why, they have no heads!” he expostulates, feeling very put upon at having to escort Kitty to places that he’d never intended to see or ever see again.Freddy's never been known as the 'smart' one, but under Kitty's kind reassurances, he begins to see himself as something other than a fashion plate. While slowly yet surely, Kitty's youthful insistence wins this Pink of the ton over with her enchanting damsel in distress routine. A fantastic novel by a fantastic author I will be sure to read more of.
And in closing, all I have to say is: "I like him. I like him better than Hugh. I like him better than Jack..."
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Blog Critics review
Dear Author review
Jane Austen's World review
book source: gift