Literary Love: Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

Welcome back for more Literary Love entertainment - Wherein See Michelle does Georgette Heyer...for the first time. And if you haven't already, don't forget to nominate your favorite Literary Love couple!!

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
Book-a-rama review
Dear Author review
Jane Austen's World review

book source: gift


Melissa said...

Oh, yay! I'm SO glad you liked it. I hope you have fun with some of her other books, too. :-D

Michelle said...

Melissa - Thank you again! I had so much fun and now fully intend to track down her other novels too. Any others you highly recommend?

Kath said...

I have about 100 pages left of this one, I need to buckle down and finish. You should give "Arabella" a try, I read that a few weeks ago and LOVED it!

Michelle said...

Kath - Good. I'm on the lookout for other good Heyer's after thoroughly enjoying this one.

Anonymous said...

I love this one, quite possibly my favourite Heyer. Freddy is such a reluctant hero, and the romance sort of sneaks up on you.

Other Heyers I re-read are Powder & Patch, The Grand Sophy, Frederica, These Old Shades... err I'm thinking I could go on for quite a bit.


Michelle said...

Li - Freddy is so lovable in his bumbling way isn't he? Ever the perfect gentleman. Thanks for the other recommendations, I really want to dig out some other Heyers now!

Angiegirl said...

I just checked out my first Heyer from the library--VENETIA. Hoping it's a good fit. :)

Michelle said...

Angie - I don't think you will be disappointed. Cotillion was simply buckets of fun!

Anonymous said...

This is a great book to start off reading Heyer.

One thing I like about her books is the hero/heroine are not conventional romantic leading men/women, they have some crazy/funny but they are perfect for each other.

Anonymous said...

and oh, should def try Frederica, Arabella, and The Grand Sophy...great reads all of them

Michelle said...

nishitak - You are precisely right about Heyer's characters each having a bit of quirkiness to them. Makes for very fun reading - and I am checking out more of her books as we speak, thanks for the recommendations!

Aarti said...

I adore this book. One of my absolute favorite Heyers, alongside The Talisman Ring. But I like many of her books. I think Freddy is one of my absolute favorite heroes of any book. He's so kind and gentle :-)