Sunday, March 28, 2010

Review: Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer

Today I'm welcoming Georgette Heyer to Tell me A Story as part of the Classics Circuit March Tour.

Faro's Daughter

First published in 1941 and this image is the original cover.

Miss Deborah Grantham helps her aunt run a gambling house, an occupation for a young lady that is not looked on with approval by aristcratic ladies. Particularly if , like Lady Marblethorpe, they have young, susceptible and marriageable sons . Poor Lady M. falls into a fit of conniptions when she discovers that the young Lord M. has not only fallen head over heels for Miss Grantham but is determined to make her his wife.

She calls upon her nephew for help . Enter Max Ravenscar, he of " lean, harsh-featured countenance with an uncompromising mouth and extremely hard grey eyes". Not a man to be trifled with and absolutely confident that a monetary offer will be sufficient incentive to send Miss Grantham on her way. He is soon to discover that Deborah is no shrinking miss but a feisty Amazonian : he has met his match and the stage is set for a very funny battle of wits between two very strong minded and determined people.

The story is full of action and moves along at a cracking pace. There are mishaps and miscommunications, elopements, kidnappings, and humour aplenty and at only 278 pages makes for a quick and entertaining read.
Georgette Heyer's books are a great deal more than simple, lighthearted romps through the Regency world.
She was a meticulous researcher and went to much effort to ensure the setting and time period of her books was portrayed with accuracy. While on the surface they may seem similar each book will reveal it's own snippets of historical knowledge and a little something that makes it unique.

In Faro's Daughter she ventures out of her normal Regency speech and introduces an Irish dialect - obviously she wasn't comfortable doing this as it's the only time an Irishman appears in her books.

Faro's Daughter is also set in an earlier time - pre Regency 1790's. The alert reader will realise this on the very first page when Lady Marblethorpe regards her nephew's fashionable cropped hair with a shudder.

She ..." belonged to an older generation, and herself continued to make free use of the pounce-box, in spite of Mr Pitt's iniquitous tax on hair-powder.."

The original cover also brings the earlier era to one's attention. Georgette Heyer was very particular about the covers for her books and worked closely with her illustrator's to ensure they met her high standards of accuracy. If you look at the dress the young woman is wearing you can see , that although the waistline is slightly lifted and the skirt is not as full as earlier , it has not yet reached the very clinging, highwaisted style that is associated with later Regency years.

As much as I applaud Sourcebooks efforts in republishing the books I do not think Georgette Heyer would be at all pleased with their covers and it's a pity they haven't paid as much attention to period detail as she did.

Obviously the dress is totally wrong but even worse , why is this young woman playing a harp? Unless I missed something the instrument is not even mentioned.
In fact, Deborah makes it quite clear...

" I have no accomplishments. I do not sing, or play upon the pianoforte, or paint in watercolours".

Very nice though to see these delightful books continuing to draw a following. I'm not a great reader of romance but when I do want to sit back , relax and be entertained, laugh and learn a little history , a Georgette Heyer is perfect!

H is for Heyer.


  1. Interesting! I love a good historical fiction. And it sounds like a lot of research went into this book, so that's nice.

    from Une Parole

  2. I've got several Heyer books on my TBR list at the library and this is one of them. I'm so glad I discovered her! Her romances are so much fun to read. Thanks for sharing your review!

  3. Great review, Cat! I agree with you on the Sourcebooks covers. I know many like them, but I don't think they are all that great or accurate. They often have nothing to do with the story inside... which saddens me.

    Faro's Daughter is a Heyer I didn't really like much, but now I feel like I should give it another chance.

  4. Thanks Aarti and I'm glad someone agrees about the covers.

    LQ - they are fun although I only read one now and then.

    emidy - more hist. romance......light and easy to read.

  5. What, well then I sure do not know why she is playing it. As for the dress, not a day goes by with me not seeing an in correct historical cover when it comes to clothes

  6. Blodeuedd - I suppose we can be thankful that they do at least have their heads. :-)

  7. My H was for Heyer too!

    Thanks for your continued participating in the ABC Challenge.

  8. I too was very confused by the cover on my book as it didn't seem to reflect on the "adventure" I read about. Ah well, I'm glad you enjoyed the book to some extent!

  9. An enjoyable read Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.

  10. Thanks Rohit, glad you enjoyed the review.