Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review: The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

Have you ever had a book that you put down, for whatever reason, and then picked back up six months or a year later to finish?  The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer was that book for me.  Whether it was the slow movement of the story, the language, or the time element to read it, I have been trying to get back to this book for over a year!  I finally snapped into the action about half way through it though, and recently tore through the ending and can now say I've read my first Georgette Heyer novel. 

Synopsis:  Sophy has arrived at Berkley Square to stay with her father's sister and family while he is away and out of the country.  Because of her unique upbringing across the continent, however, Sophy is difficult for her cousins to understand, not to mention how she'll be received by London society.  There is a free-spirited side to Sophy that  pushes her to be more independent and adventurous than her family, especially her cousin Charles would like.  Feeling like her guardian, newly engaged Charles is constantly on the outlook for Sophy's out-there ways and trying to reign her in.  From fixing up her young cousin (Charles's sister) Cecilia with the poet she loves, regardless of her family's approval, to helping get their younger brother out of a financial fiasco through her own wiles, Sophy seems never to fear reproach and faces society head on.  Sophy is no wilting flower, but always seems to charm them all--maybe even cousin Charles, for all his high brow ways?

Review:  I struggled to get into The Grand Sophy in the beginning, as I didn't naturally connect with Sophy or her cousins.  Like many free-spirited young ladies in novels before and since, Sophy is not only the kind of character you know is going to get into trouble, but who is also going to worm her way into everyone's hearts by showing them a different side of themselves.  In short, it's time to hang on for the ride to see where she was going to take the story.

Although I liked the story with Cecilia, who Sophy coached into feeling okay about choosing who she cared for and loved (It was fun seeing Charles riled up and annoyed at Sophy's meddling ways), I didn't really start to get into the novel until she stepped in to help Charles and Cecilia's younger brother.  He had gotten himself into a precarious situation and built up some debt with a Jewish financier who swindled him out of a bunch of money and some precious family property.  (The bit about the swindler being Jewish had a good deal of Anti-Semitism built in that made me cringe, which really was a reflection more of the time period than anything.)  In the end, Sophy faced down the swindler and bravely saved the family name and finances!  From that point on, Charles sees Sophy less as an annoyance and more as her own person.  I loved watching him change his opinion about Sophy, , as she surprised him with her loyalty and bravery, even if he never stopped being aggravated by her lively behavior.

If you like period pieces, Jane Austen's romances, or high society dramas, then Georgette Heyer seems to fit the bill.  I've seen her name mentioned in British Chick Lit. before, as the main characters drop her name as someone they've read, but I wasn't aware of her work until now.  Honestly, it was a fun read, and although slow to pick up speed in the actual story, the comedy in behavior was there and fun to watch from the beginning.

Many of these Georgette Heyer novels are being republished by Sourcebooks and can be found at most retailers.  The binding is great and the covers really pretty as well.  If you like Regency romance, and a good, clean read, these are the perfect fit!

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a copy of the novel provided by Sourcebooks.


  1. I was late in coming to Georgette Heyer novels myself, but when I am in the right mood, they are just perfect--light, bright, sparkling, and easy to read. I liked The Grand Sophy, but agree that it has a bit of a slow start. Glad you were finally able to finish it and feel good about doing so.

  2. My friend Sara is obsessed with Georgette Heyer novels. Perhaps I should give them a whirl... if I ever finish Crime and Punishment.

  3. I've never read a Georgette Heyer novel, either. I've been aware of her for a while but for some reason the plots of her Regencies don't sound that interesting to me. Her mysteries, on the other, seem like that could be really good!

  4. The Grand Sophy was my first Regency romance and Georgette Heyer is still my favorite romance author--although, oddly enough, she did not write my favorite Regency romance. In fact, it was she, who inspired me to write my first full length novel, the Regency Romance, A Very Merry Chase.

    Her plots are simple, as are those of most Regencies, but her stories are mostly lighthearted fun, filled with delightfully entertaining people and language.

  5. I love books set in this time period, but haven't read one by her yet. I must fix that.

  6. Jane GS--I'm glad to hear they are so loved. I really should try some of her other novels as well to get a feel for them.

    Gretchen--I think you would really like them. I've only read this one, but I'd like to try some more. :) Crime and Punishment?!? Holy Cow! I've meant to read that one for ages, but have been too intimidated. I'll be interested to see what you think and if you liked it!

    Heidenkind--I had heard "of" her, but not really processed who she was or what she wrote until Sourcebooks offered me this book. I'm glad I have that cultural reference point now. You should try a mystery and tell me how it is!

    Teresa--That's good to know! I really will have to try some of her other novels.

    A Buckeye Girl--It's a slow go, but it had these funny moments interspersed with strange tension that kept it moving. Very old fashioned in its language and pacing though.