Monday, March 22, 2010

Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

Title: Cotillion
Author: Georgette Heyer
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (1953)

This is my first foray into Heyer's work and I'm glad I finally got round to her. Side note: have you ever noticed how much simpler the copyright page is in older books? Anyway, Cotillion is all kinds of fun so let me tell you a bit about it. Kitty Charing's eccentric guardian has made his will and hooray for Kitty she gets it all! There's just one pesky condition: she's got to marry one of his nephews in order to inherit. Lucky for her she's got a big ole crush on Nephew Jack. Unlucky for her, he doesn't show up to offer for her. Resourceful Kitty is undaunted; and convinced that all she needs to do to get Jack is to make him jealous. To that end she convinces Nephew Freddy to pose as her fiance so that she can go to London and start inciting the Green-eyed Monster in Jack. Hijinks ensue!

The book is a light romp that follows the characters from one social engagement to another while they work out their shit. It's not heavy on plot but I think the point is to enjoy the characters. And enjoy 'em I did! I'm really only interested in gabbing about the characters but I feel I must mention that the book's length works against it. It's light, it's fun, it's breezy, it's not got much of a plot - and because of all this it's a touch too long. I loves me some breezy fun but the book would have been even better had it been shorter. Breezy fun can only be stretched so far. And the exclamation points!!!! Boy howdy! I thought my excitement meter was going to explode!!! Be warned! But anyway, let's get to the fun stuff...

Nephew Freddy is a resolute bachelor more interested in clothes than wills (and just about everything else) and he's unfailingly polite, but before you start thinking he doesn't sound like much fun just wait til you start reading his dialogue. He kept me snickering for most of the book. I enjoyed him quite a bit but I probably liked Kitty even more. This might be because you spend more time with her so getting to know her is easier. Much like Nephew Freddy (don't worry, they don't use the Nephew title in the book, that's just me:), on the surface there doesn't appear to be much to Kitty. By her own admission her interests are mostly in frivolous (well, frivolous to me anyway) activities. But the cool thing about Kitty is that she really knows herself. I'm coming to find that that's one of my favorite qualities in a romance heroine. And by this I don't just mean that she knows what she wants but that she knows what she knows. She's led a sheltered life so she's not tops in street sense. She often makes mistakes but she realizes it right away, acknowledges it and then files away said lesson for future avoidance of mistakes. I can't stand it when something doesn't go right for a heroine and then she's like, "Well, heck, I just don't know what's going on." Well, dumb shit, use your critical thinking skills and work it out.

Nephew Freddy, who often seems even more frivolous than Kitty, turns out to be more resourceful than ya might think. He's especially good at helping people out of jambs. I assume it was all the times he helped his brother that prepared him for helping Kitty when she would forget some tiny detail in one of her random plans. It was fun to watch these two get to know each other, and get to know themselves even better through each other.

If you're looking for a breezy* good time then pick up Cotillion. If you're looking for a heavy-hitter than you might want to skip over this one. But before I go, my favorite scene/quote (condensed):

"I do think that Freddy is the most truly chivalrous person imaginable!"
"Do you, indeed?"
"Yes, and a great deal more to the purpose than all the people one was taught to revere, like Sir Lancelot, and Sir Galahad, and Young Lochinvar, and--and that kind of man! I daresay Freddy might not be a great hand at slaying dragons, but you may depend upon it none of those knight-errants would be able to rescue one from a social fix, and you must own, Meg, that one has not the smallest need of a man who can kill dragons!"

rating: 3 of 5 stars

*am I the only one that can't say breezy without remembering Monica (of Friends fame) negating her own breezy by mentioning it in a phone message?


  1. Nice review. Breezy.
    I love LOVE cotillion. Especially the way it turns the standard Regency romance tropes right on their heads by having the fop be the hero and the rake be a. . . rake.

  2. So true! In reading romance you get the impression that every rake is on a path to reformation.

    I read Lady of Quality last week and am just starting Charity Girl. These are so much fun.