The Convenient Marriage – Georgette Heyer, Richard Armitage

coverThis was my first Georgette Heyer, to which I was irresistibly drawn by the fact that it’s an audiobook read by Richard (Thornton Guisborne Thorin) Armitage. Also: Georgette Heyer. All I’ve ever heard about her is how wonderful her books are, the epitome of their genre, not to be missed.

I feel let down.

It’s a cute idea. Horatia (“Horry”) (note to parents everywhere: don’t name your child Horatia, or that’s what will happen) Winwood sees her older sister Elizabeth being drawn inexorably into a terrible situation: she loves someone else, but the Earl of Rule has asked for her hand. Given the family’s financial situation – including a brother who enjoys the drink and the gambling – there is no choice: Elizabeth must marry the rich lord and not her penniless soldier boy. So Horatia – though very young by current standards – takes matters into her own hands. She tromps off to present herself to Rule and – calmly, coolly, and collectedly – offer herself as a substitute. Purely a business arrangement, you understand, and neither of them expected to interfere with the other; he can even keep seeing his mistress. (!) When her mother and sisters find out they all nearly conniption from the horror and embarrassment, but when it turns out that Rule rather liked the audacity of it all things look much brighter.

coverThe problem is that the concentration of the story drifts from there into other waters. If it had held its focus on Horry being unconventionally audacious and ahead of her time, convinced that whatever she was starting to feel for him the marriage was one of convenience purely, and so on, I might have had fun. But her unconventionality transmutes into a penchant for gambling and the high life just like her brother’s, and it was a little nauseating. She was presented as being a smart girl, and yet she immediately forgets what it was like not to have very much and begins spending money like one to the manner born. Then the whole thing deteriorates into a rather unpleasant farce involving an extremely unwise flirtation with another man leading to results so nearly tragic I was a little stunned; I had expected something light and clever, not this adventure, involving at least two episodes of faux-highway-robbery, near-ravishment, a missing brooch, disuises, and Horry’s brother and his Wodehouse-esque goofy sidekick.

Armitage did a fine job of reading it – as well, that is, as any man could be expected to do with a book featuring a passel of women in the primary roles, one of whom has – wait for it – a stutter.

I have to ask – whoever chose this among all of Heyer’s novels – what were they smoking? An audiobook of a novel whose main character stutters? It was painful to listen to – I can only imagine it was painful to narrate. I hope they paid Armitage well.

I understand that this is one of Georgette Heyer’s early books, and not among the best; also, I just belatedly noticed that the audiobook was (horrors!) abridged. So this won’t put me off the author’s body of work.

Almost. But not quite.


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11 Responses to The Convenient Marriage – Georgette Heyer, Richard Armitage

  1. Even though I grew up on a healthy diet of trashy romance novels, I’ve never read Georgette Heyer. But, I’ve heard a lot about her. Guess I’ll take a pass on her books. ;-)

  2. stewartry says:

    I want to try another one – I have a bunch of paperbacks I’d gotten for Mom, and this one is apparently not one of her best. I think it was free from Audible, which was why I got it – I hope for better. :)

  3. I do hope you won’t let an abridged audiobook put you off of Heyer — especially since The Convenient Marriage is arguably her most a-typical romance novel. I would recommend The Grand Sophy, if you haven’t tried it. Some of her books (and characters) can feel repetitive, but Sophy is an example of Heyer at her witty, silly best. I’m not a fan of “trashy” novels per se and a HUGE fan of Trollope, Gaskell, Austen and their ilk and Heyer really hits the sweet spot with me. She was a respected amateur historian as well and took pains to get period details exactly right. Please do give her another chance!

  4. stewartry says:

    I definitely will give her another shot. I have a box full of paperbacks just waiting for me to have the time and the mood, and I’m looking forward to them! Thank you for the recommendation – I think The Grand Sophy is one that I have, in fact. Eeexcellent! :)

  5. Eeeexcellent! Like Mr. Burns, right? I hope you like it. !!!!

  6. stewartry says:

    LOL – exactly!

    (And thanks for the follow – your blog is TOO good for my waistline’s sake!)

  7. Take heart. I’m trying to do more healthy recipes now that the Holiday Pork-up Season is upon us. :)

  8. sandlane says:

    I have enjoyed reading Georgette Heyer Regency romances and look forward to reading more. I read several many years ago and am enjoying reading some of the old favourites again. However, I have not read The Convenient Marriage. the next book which I am looking forward to re-reading is These Old Shades, which I remember was an old favourite of many years ago. My best wishes

  9. stewartry says:

    I’m really looking forward to reading more. I’d even like to read this one; if I’m right and it was abridged, I’d love to see what was cut out.

  10. Lori says:

    This was not a good copy — way too abridged. Please read another Heyer. I would suggest Cotillion, The Talisman Ring, and The Grand Sophy, to give you three that are rather different, plot-wise. Heyer isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but please don’t judge all her books by this one, especially when it isn’t the entire novel.

  11. stewartry says:

    Once I realized it was abridged, I knew I had to try again. I have a small stack of Heyers that I had picked up for my mother, and at random picked Sylvester from the pile – I think I might put it back down again and try one of the ones you recommend. Thank you!

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