Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer

No one can compare to Georgette Heyer. Many try to emulate her style,but practically no one has mastered it. And in spite of her troublesome tendency to marry off naive young girls barely out of the schoolroom to older sophisticated men of the world; and her frequent portrayal of the middle and merchant classes as uncultured, uncouth and grasping, perpetually trying to curry favour with the upper classes; she is still one of my favourite authours.

In Cousin Kate, Heyer abandons somewhat the comedy of manners that she is so well known for and enters the darker realm of the Gothic novel. The heroine of the piece is Kate Malvern, a penniless orphan, who has just lost her latest job as a governess and her home. An aunt that she knows little of offers her a home at Staplewood Manor. Her aunt, Minerva Broome, wants Kate to act as a companion and friend to her young cousin, Torquil, who happens to be a charming and clever young man but who is troubled by frequent mood swings and bouts of depression. All too soon Kate discovers that all is not well at Staplewood Manor. There is an atmosphere of secrecy and deception. And Kate soon finds that she doesn't know whom to trust or what to do.

In Kate Malvern, Heyer has created a witty, courageous and gallant heroine that engages the reader. The avid Georgette Heyer fan may miss the lively light hearted romps she is most famous for, but I can recommend this book as a wonderful read, especially for its gallant heroine.

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