So I had a long plane trip coming up. San francisco to Hong Kong is a long airplane ride, and I needed to stock up my Kindle with something new.
I was out of reading material, but I had just recently reread A Civil Campaign by Bujold, and she named Georgette Heyer as an influence. I figured it would be worth trying her out, how bad could it be?
I found out.
I downloaded four of her books to my Kindle and got to spend the next 11 hours with as unpleasant a crew of parisitical, good for nothing, useless twits as ever earned a short ride in a tumbrel cart. By the time I got to Hong Kong, I was rooting for Napolean. By the time I got back to San Francisco I was thinking the Lenin had a point.
- The Grand Sophy
A traumatized young woman is evacuated from the war zone after the battle is over. She comes to stay with her aunt’s family and causes much emotional turmoil, destroying relationships left and right, shooting a house guest, and at the end finding love with a man whose idea of expressing affection is to choke her half to death while shouting insults at her.
- The Toll Gate
A recently demobilized military veteran looking to escape from his responsibilities comes across an abandoned toll booth and decides to investigate. In the process befriending the abused son of the missing gate keeper. After uncovering numerous felonies, and committing still more, he finds love with the grand-daughter of the local squire. She accepts his suit because the alternative is much worse.
- The Unknown Ajax
The least objectionable of the four novels, a recently discharged major (for good cause no doubt) goes to visit his estranged grandfather in the south of England, it seems he is in line to inherit the title. After conniving at smuggling (Watch the wall my darling, while the Gentlemen go by …) and almost getting his cousin killed in the process, he finds love with another of his cousins. Since he has money and she doesn’t, he can pretty well do what he wants. It all ends happily ever after, at least for him.
- The Corinthian
God, this one was disgusting. A teenaged girl decides to run away from home, for no very good reason. She immediately falls into the hands (literally) of a somewhat skeevy older man who spends the next fourteen chapters systematically seperating her from her friends and family. In the last chapter, she has an attack of good sense and runs away from him trying to get back to her family. He chases after her, drags her by main force out of the vehicle she is riding in and commits sexual assault right there in the middle of the road.
After reading this one, I needad a shower. Unfortunately, I was over the North Pacific, somewhere between Kamchatka and Adak.
I notice that half of the books involve cousin marriage. Is the British aristocracy really that inbred? It would explain a lot.
There was also the occaisional mention of luddites and revolutionaries of various sorts, but they were all safely off screen.
The protagonist of The Unknown Ajax was probably the most sympathetic of the lot. He was safe from ever having to perform manual labor, but at least his maternal grandfather had worked for a living, rising to be a mill owner. He seemed to have some understanding of the problems facing those tho aren’t to the manor born. Yes, I know that’s a mis-quote, the pun is intended.
All in all, they were an interesting read, if a little disturbing. I had never read any of these books, but I have read and enjoyed books by Lois Bujold, and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. It was interesting to see where they got the source material from.
On the whole, I prefer the Flashman books. He was more honest about the whole thing. And the history was better researched.