Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer

The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer
Copyright 2009 [orig. pub. 1962]
Sourcebooks Casablanca
337 pages

What led you to pick up this book? I read and reviewed my first Georgette Heyer book, Cotillion, for Estella's Revenge last year. It was a hard read because I'd never encountered that level of Regency lingo, but it was a great story and I've planned to read more. When Danielle at Sourcebooks offered up several titles for review, I snatched The Nonesuch (and a couple of others, which I'll get to in the coming weeks or months).

Describe the plot without giving anything away.

Ancilla Trent is in her late twenties and unlikely ever to marry. As the hired chaperone of strikingly beautiful young Tiffany Wield, she's got her work cut out for her. Tiffany has no sense of tact and is tremendously selfish, but thanks to her beauty she usually has a bevy of young admirers to toy with. When she goes too far and humiliation becomes her likely fate, she runs away to London. Will Ancilla be able to stop her?

Sir Waldo Hawkridge is wealthy, philanthropic and stylish. He's also a confirmed bachelor. When he inherits a run-down estate and travels to Yorkshire with his cousin, Lord Julian Lindeth, to supervise the repairs to Broom Hall, it's only natural that such dashing men should be invited into the social whirl. Sir Waldo plans to turn Broom Hall into an orphanage and leave as soon as he's able. But, he quickly finds himself falling for Ancilla Trent. Ancilla knows she's not in Sir Waldo's class and a romance would be scandalous. Is he playing games with her, or is it possible that such a charming man returns her affections?

Describe a favorite scene. Honestly, I loved absolutely every scene in the book. So much happens that I think I'd have trouble singling out any particular scene, but I do love it when Julian offers to teach Patience Chartley (the rector's daughter) the waltz. The waltz is all the rage in London, but in the country people are iffy about it and Julian is trying to explain that the dance is harmless to Patience's mother when this happens:

The Rector, coming into the room and learning what was the subject under discussion, said that since the world began each generation had condemned the manners and customs of the next.

Ha! So true!

What did you think about the characters? Georgette Heyer had a knack for creating beautifully three-dimensional characters. The Nonesuch (Sir Waldo) and Ancilla Trent are charming and witty, and there are some nosy, haughty women and gallant young men. Sir Waldo's cousin Lawrence eventually shows up and he's suitably paired with the uncontrollable Tiffany, for a time. I'd say the characterization is darn near perfect, although I had a little trouble distinguishing some of the secondary characters, for a time, because there are so many.

What did you like most about the book? I love the witty dialogue, the characters, the storyline, the setting, the action. A great deal happens in this book. It was a tremendously fun, light-hearted read.

Was there anything you didn't like about the book? That Regency lingo is rough. Fortunately, there are some helpful sites online (I printed out some of the slang and expressions and kept them with me when I read) and eventually you become accustomed to the mode of speech. Heyer is a little like Shakespeare, in that way. Once you become involved and get into the rhythm and style, most everything makes sense in context -- even if you're too lazy to get up and look up a few expressions online (yeah, sometimes I didn't bother). The ending is also a little odd, but nothing to complain about.

Recommended? Absolutely. I've enjoyed both of the Heyer books I read so much that I'd love to read everything she's ever written, at this point. This is a very romantic story, but so much happens that I'd encourage people who just like a good story to snatch up this book and give Heyer a try.

Cover thoughts: I like the cover. I don't love the cover, but I really like it. I find it a little difficult imagining the way people dressed in that time period without a little visual help and I occasionally closed the book to remind myself of how Sir Waldo was probably dressed.

Coming up: I think I've read about 5 or 6 other books that I haven't reviewed. Since most of them are from my personal collection, I'm planning to just dash off a few mini reviews, this week.


  1. I have been seeing Heyer all over the blogs lately!! And I haven't read one of her books. Looks like I will have to find a good one to start....soon! Let's hope the library has a few!

  2. Stephanie,

    I hadn't read any till last year, although I've been hearing about how awesome Heyer's books are for ages. So far, I've loved the two I read and I'm anxious to read more. I don't think you can lose for trying! :)

  3. It's been years since I've read that story, but I remember loving it! I might have to go through my box of books to see if I still have it. Thanks for reminding me of such a great book.

  4. This does sound like a good one, Nancy. Like Stephanie, I keep seeing Heyer popping up on blogs. Maybe it's time I consider reading one of her books too. :-)

  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, but I'm not sure it's a good match for me. Great review.

  6. Between the two which one is your favorite? I'm just curious cause I would probably buy it. I know pressure. lol

  7. Annell,

    I think I'm going to have a hard time parting with my copy of The Nonesuch. It's definitely memorable! Hope you find your copy!


    I have a friend who has read all of Heyer's books to tatters. I don't think you can lose. Some titles are apparently better than others, but I enjoyed the two I've read equally. I say go for it. :)


    Could be. I'm not sure I know your taste well enough to say whether you'd like or dislike a Regency romance, but a lot more happens than just the couples falling in love. The Nonesuch is just good storytelling.


    I liked both Cotillion and The Nonesuch equally well. The Nonesuch was originally published in 1962 and Heyer died in the 70s, if I remember right. So, you should be able to find some of her books at your library (just don't want you to get chewed out by the hubby).

  8. I *just* left a comment saying how I've seen Georgette Heyer's name popping up all over the place and here is another one. Why haven't I heard of her before. I've already added The Talisman Ring to my list, so I might as well keep a look out for this one as well. Glad youliked this one so well! Sounds very clever.

  9. Trish,

    Georgette Heyer died in the 70's and her books are being republished. Maybe the fact that they languished for a while and hadn't been reprinted led to her becoming a little more obscure. I only knew about her because I had a friend who was a Regency romance nut and I used to belong to a romance writers' group. Both of the books I read were witty and charming. I haven't read The Talisman Ring. Don't tempt me. LOL

  10. This sounds like a good one! I'm so glad they are re-publishing authors like Heyer and Margaret Campbell Barnes.

  11. Jenclair,

    Me, too. It doesn't take long to figure out why romance readers gush about Heyer. I don't know the other author. I'll have to look her up.

  12. Oh, this sounds like such a delight! And just like the kind of book I'm in the mood for.

  13. Nymeth,

    That's a good way to put it. The Nonesuch is definitely a delight! :)

  14. Interesting. I don't read much romance, and therefore have not read anything by this author, but maybe I am missing out! I do like historical fiction.

  15. Kim,

    I don't read a lot of romance, either, but I don't avoid it (I used to). There are some amazing writers in the romance world -- and terribly overlooked. If you like historical fiction, you'll probably love Heyer. The romance is key, but mostly she was just a fantastic storyteller.

  16. I love Georgette Heyer and normally I detest all romances.

  17. Carrie,

    Yeah, I think I knew that. :)

    BTW, I haven't forgotten you. I'm about three weeks behind on blog reading.


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