Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer

The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer
Originally Published 1940
Copyright 2009
Sourcebooks - Regency Historical Romance
261 pages

"I don't wish to say rude things about your friends, Richard, but it seems to me very wrong of him--most improper.

"Most," he agreed.

"Even dastardly!"

"I think we might call it dastardly."

"Well, that is what it seems to me. I see now that there is a great deal in what Aunt Almeria says. She considers that there are terrible pitfalls in Society."

Sir Richard shook his head sadly. "Alas, too true!"

"And vice," said Pen awfully. "Profligacy, and extravagance, you know."

"I know."

She picked up her knife and fork again. "It must be very exciting," she said enviously.

Sir Richard Wyndham has known for many years that eventually he would be expected to offer his hand in marriage to Melissa Brandon if he found no other woman who suited his fancy. The Brandons, including father Lord Saar, are friends but the entire family is spiraling into ruin. Wyndham is expected to rescue them and provide a decent husband for Melissa. Sir Richard dutifully traipses to her home and finds her attitude appalling. Her brother even tells him to run while he can. So, Sir Richard goes to his club and gets drunk. He feels as if he has no choice in the matter; and, though he'd prefer to find someone he loves and who has a sense of humor, he's already in his thirties. Women all seem oddly alike and stupendously dull. He might as well do the proper thing. At this point, the reader wants to shout at him to run, run while he can. Emotionally involving? Oh, yes.

Whilst walking home, Sir Richard comes across an interesting scene. Someone is climbing down a rope made from sheets. It appears to be a young boy, but when Richard comes to "his" aid and catches the boy, as his rope is too short, the truth becomes obvious. He has rescued a young lady in disguise. Penelope, nicknamed "Pen", is determined to escape the certain proposal of her cousin, who looks like a fish. Pen, a wealthy orphan, has decided that her best hope is to run to Somerset, where she will locate her childhood friend and marry him. They haven't spoken for five years, but they made a blood commitment to marry, someday.

Sir Richard sees an opportunity to escape marriage to a practical but humorless woman. He's drunk but cognisant enough to realize that the young girl needs a companion to see her to her destination. Thus begins a journey, with Pen in disguise as a young boy and Sir Richard posing as either uncle or tutor, depending on the moment. A disastrous ride by post, the robbery of a diamond necklace, a murder, and a charming friendship make for a fast-paced, delightful read.

Of course, with Georgette Heyer, you know from the outset who will fall in love and you're rooting for them, but she takes you on quite a wild ride in order to arrive at the expected happy ending. The characters are a well-rounded batch -- charming, effervescent young Pen, reliable and kind-hearted Sir Richard, a thief with an aversion to violence, a young couple having a clandestine meeting, the dissipated would-be brothers-in-law and a violent rogue.

4.5/5 - Sometimes-predictable, yet surprising; rolicking fun in the form of a Regency-style road trip with romance and intrigue, terrific characters and witty dialogue.

When I read my first Georgette Heyer novel, a couple of years ago, I thought the Regency lingo was going to kill me. Heyer did have a tendency to go overboard on the vernacular, in my humble opinion. You're left with a choice of attempting to learn the language with some sort of dictionary, trying to translate via context or just ignoring half the words in the book. I've been unable to locate a print Regency dictionary, but there are some excellent online resources:

Good Ton - A resource for readers of Regency romance novels and
The World of Georgette Heyer are both very helpful.

The Corinthian is really quite tame when compared to the other Heyer novels I've read, although there were a few decision-making moments. Get up to look up the lingo online? Stay in the comfy reading spot and figure it out? This time around, the vernacular was minimal enough that I decided to duke it out and remain propped against the pillows. There are even some very humorous scenes in which the thief translates his own lingo for young Pen, who can't make heads or tails of his speech but is too friendly not to speak to him at all.

Coming up:

An updated sidebar, I hope. But, I have some reading to do, first.


I'm currently unable to load fresh photos to Picasa, but I hope to amend that soon. I'd love to share some of the photos I took at the Memphis Zoo. It was hotter than hell, but we had a terrific time; and, I'm particularly fond of the polar bear and meerkat shots. Hopefully, I'll be able to post some of them, soon. In the meantime, you get a flower from Costa Rica because I don't believe I can tolerate another post without a photo. There. Have a flower.

Happy Canada Day to the Canadians!!


  1. I love Heyer too and just purchased The Corinthian. A dictionary would be helpful...I just finished and reviewed The Toll-Gate and there was a lot of 'cant' or 'flash' language. Great post.

  2. nicchic,

    Every time I close a Georgette Heyer book, I think to myself, "This is my new favorite." So, obviously, The Corinthian is my new favorite Heyer. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! I'm happy to report that the language didn't kill me, cant, flash or otherwise. Whew! And, thank you. I must dash over to read your review.

  3. I haven't read this one of Heyer's. I'm just working on Cousin Kate right now. I had hoped to have it done in June but that didn't happen. I agree a dictionary would be helpful at times.

  4. Dar,

    I'm reading Cousin Kate, too! The lingo can kind of bog you down. I'm just trying to figure things out from context, this time around (so far).

  5. lol, I love the dialogue you quoted. I really have to read Heyer! I think I'll love her.

    PS: Your header is seriously the most adorable thing ever.

  6. Nymeth,

    Isn't that a great quote? I read that one to my husband because I figured he'd enjoy the laugh (he did).

    Thank you! I spotted that squirrel and his ice cream cone when we were in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a couple of years ago. I figured "summer" and "ice cream" go together. :)

  7. This one sounds like great fun! I don't have as much difficulty with the Regency vernacular...because I read a lot of Heyer many years ago. :) I've re-read a couple recently and enjoyed them, and while I don't remember ever having read this one, it appears that is an error that needs to be corrected!

  8. Georgette Heyer is fabulous.

    The Zoo in that heat? Can't wait to see the pix though!

  9. Originally published in 1940? That alone gets my interest but your review makes it sound like a wonderful book, language issues aside.


  10. Jenclair,

    I'm reading Cousin Kate, my 4th Heyer, and finding that I'm gradually picking up the language. It's exhausting when you're new to Regency vernacular, though.

    I thought The Corinthian was great -- lots going on and, as always, a charming couple that you really want to end up together.


    Yep. She's a keeper. I'm glad Sourcebooks is rereleasing her books because the library's collection seems to be slowly going to tatters.

    Yes, in the heat. We got to the zoo at opening time (9am) and were drenched by the time we'd hiked to the first exhibit. We lasted about 3 hours before I wilted and we had to leave. Not bad, really!


    I haven't read a bad Georgette Heyer book, yet. The Corinthian is probably a good starting point because there is a secondary character who uses the upper class mode of speech that fries one's brain, but he's not around all the time. And, the thief often explains himself. It's an extremely fun read.

  11. I see Georgette Heyer all over the place and I still haven't managed to read one. What do you suggest I read first? LOL!

  12. Holly,

    The Corinthian is a good one to start with. I've read three: Cotillion, The Nonesuch and The Corinthian (and I'm working on Cousin Kate). The Corinthian does eventually dive into vernacular, but it has a bit less than the other Heyers I've read and it's a sweet story with lots of action and humor.

  13. I have read lots of good reviews about her book Fredericka. It is on my wish list.
    I have only read one of her books but I cannot remember which one. :)

  14. Brittanie,

    I had to go back and look -- I couldn't remember the title of the first Heyer I read, either. I'll have to add Fredericka to my wish list. Really, I'd love to read everything the author has ever written. She hasn't let me down, yet.

  15. This sounds like another good one. :) Soo review on The Physic Book of Deliverance Dane?

  16. Probably tomorrow. I've got at least three books that I still haven't reviewed and earlier I was trying to decide which to review first. I guess you settled it. Physick it is. :)

  17. I am excited! I also finally found a picture for my profile off google images. Cool huh?

  18. I must admit that The Corinthian is one of my least favorite Heyers. I just don't like Pen. But I remember having difficulty with the slang when I started reading her- eventually, though, I went completely the opposite and am now in love with all Regency slang!

    I do think it's odd that there is a girl on the cover, however- Corinthian is definitely slang for a man...

  19. Aarti,

    I adored Pen, myself. She reminded me of me, just a tiny bit. I chattered incessantly and was ridiculously friendly when I was her age -- to the point of being a little bit of a problem. I do think after a time the Regency lingo must become second nature. There's a lot that I'm beginning to recognize and understand, now, as I'm reading my 4th novel.

    I completely forgot to mention the cover! It's totally wrong! Pen had her hair cut short like a boy and it was golden blonde. She was dressed in a suit during their entire adventure, also. As far as I recall, there was no point (except maybe at the end) when she was dressed like a lady. I didn't think it was a problem that they used a female cover, in spite of the title, since there was obviously a heroine involved but that particular art was a bad choice.

  20. I recently picked this book up at Borders as I've heard so many talking about Heyer's books. I have to admit I've been on the fence about reading her but thought I would give it a try. Now I'm back to the fence seeing your comments on the lingo. I don't know that I want reading it to be work (if that makes sense).

    Thank you for the review, I'm going to give this one a bit more thought.

  21. Michelle,

    The Corinthian is a fantastic starting point. While I tend to dislike books that are too heavy on vernacular, I've found that I'm slowly adapting and understanding more of those Regency expressions.
    Heyer's books are so entertaining that I highly encourage you to give her a try. You might want to just print out some of the expressions at those websites and keep them handy for your first book. I've done that.

    I just finished my 4th Heyer, yesterday. It wasn't my favorite (it was a gothic rather than her typical, upbeat romance) but I still want to read everything she wrote! And, yes, I do understand that comment about not wanting your reading to be work. Sometimes I'm willing to work a little and sometimes I just want to be swept away.


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