This will probably be my last Georgette Heyer for a month or two because, much as I love her, I'm reminded that I have to space out the works of a single author or I begin to hate them. Having said that, I'm still of the opinion that Georgette Heyer was unable to write a bad book and I can't imagine ever despising her writing. I just don't want to let myself anywhere near that possibility.
Cousin Kateis a departure from the typical Heyer romance. Kate is an orphan who spent many years living in billets on "the Peninsula" in Spain and Portugal, mostly raised by her soldier father. 24 years old and having just returned to her nurse Sarah's home after a disastrous attempt at life as a governess, she's considering going into service as an abigail (ladies' maid) or dresser. Sarah protests, saying she comes from blood too fine to end up lowering herself to such an extreme and writes to Kate's only known relative, her father's half-sister, Minerva Broome.
Lady Broome sweeps into town and spirits Kate away, seemingly out of duty and kindness, but there is more than meets the eye, when it comes to Aunt Minerva. At Staplewood, the Broome estate, Kate finds that her 19-year-old cousin Torquil, who is sickly and flies into dangerous tempers, is living in one wing of the estate. Minerva lives in the center and Lord Broome lives in the wing opposite Torquil's. Lord Broome is fragile and seems only to perk up when his nephew, Phillip, comes to visit.
Kate settles in and attempts to do her part to calm Torquil, without great success. Otherwise, she is profoundly bored. There are no parties at the great estate, Aunt Minerva gives her useless chores, and Torquil isn't allowed to go anywhere unaccompanied. Eventually, Kate will find out the real reason Aunt Minerva has invited her to stay at Staplewood and she will unravel the cause of the screams she hears in the night. But, will Cousin Kate find out the truth too late?
Goodness. What a story. I can't say this was my favorite Heyer, but it was certainly gripping. I'm afraid to say much, but there are a few points worth noting. Cousin Kate is primarily a gothic novel and it does have an element of romance, but the romance is less prominent in this book because the story is really a tale of a dysfunctional family with a terrible secret.
Kate is, however, the typical bubbly young lady with poor prospects and that fact makes the book a bit uneven. As events unfold, Kate loses just a little of her fizz. She's still a happy, upbeat person who wants to believe the best of everyone, but eventually there are incidents that even Kate can't come to terms with.
The older cover, at right, depicts one such scene. Cousin Torquil has obtained a gun and when he sees the friendly dog Kate has been urging to leave the property, he instantly decides to shoot it, barely missing both the dog and Kate. Not long after, Kate decides she must leave Staplewood, but worse things will happen. Will Kate make her escape in time?
3.75/5- Very good; excellent characterization and a decent plot. As usual, Heyer is faultlessly entertaining, although Cousin Kate is kind of an awkward blend of suspense and romance. Not my favorite, however I still had trouble putting it down because I had to know what was going to happen.
I'm still stuck on my little laptop (one of those tiny e-book things) and it's a bit of a pain, so I haven't spent much time blog-hopping. Hopefully, we'll get our desktop problems resolved soon so I can visit other bloggers. I'm starting to feel a touch of withdrawal. Hope everyone's having a fantastic weekend!