05 March 2014

My First Georgette Heyer: "April Lady"

April Lady  If you read enough romance novels, especially the historicals, then you will eventually come across the name Georgette Heyer. From what I understand, she was the mother of the Regency romance. Although my preferred setting for historical novels is the American prairie, I've seen enough references to Heyer's work that I was beginning to think I was missing something. So when I ran across April Lady on the NC Digital Library site, I figured I'd give it a shot.

April Lady is about a husband and wife who each think that their spouse married them for convenience, but actually they are in love with each other. Between listening to bad advice and dealing with the messes that their family members make, the couple is pulled farther apart before everything is righted in the end. I was attracted to this plot because the couple is already married at the beginning of the novel, which is different from most of the romances I read.

How did I like my first Georgette Heyer novel? My feelings are mixed. I expected the language to be a bit formal and difficult for me to understand, but parts of the dialogue had the rhythm of 1930s movie slang and was quite enjoyable to read. Unfortunately, the characters spend a lot more time thinking about their situations instead of talking to each other. The plot goes around in circles for quite a while and I was tempted to stop reading the book a few times. It reminded me of those thin Harlequin romances that all my classmates were reading when I was in junior high, the type of story that would end on page 10 if the husband and wife would just talk to each other. However, the final scenes of the book were amusing and made me decided to try another Heyer book.

The thought occurred to me that perhaps April Lady isn't from Heyer's heyday, and the reviews on Goodreads seem to bear this out. Several Heyer enthusiasts on the site note that this is, in their opinion, an inferior reworking of an earlier Heyer novel, The Convenient Marriage. Based on this, I may try another romance from the earlier part of the author's catalog.

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