Monday, 28 February 2011

Book Review: Frederica by Georgette Heyer

This is the fourth book I have read by Georgette Heyer and the first book in my Georgette Heyer Challenge 2011 (click on the link to find out more about it.)

Amazon synopsis:

Rich, handsome, darling of the ton, the hope of ambitious mothers and despair of his sisters, the Marquis of Alverstoke sees no reason to put himself out for anyone. Until a distant connection, ignorant of his selfishness, applies to him for help. Plunged into one drama after another by the large and irrepressible Merriville family, Alverstoke is surprised to find himself far from bored. The lovely Charis may be as hen-witted as she is beautiful but Jessamy is an interesting boy, and Felix an engaging scamp. And, most intriguing of all, their strong-minded sister Frederica, who seems more concerned with her family's welfare than his own distinguished attentions ...

My review:

Miss Frederica Merriville will do anything to ensure her younger sister Charis is able to have a London season so whilst she is in London, she takes it upon herself to visit a distant relation, the Marquis of Alverstoke to ask him to sponsor Charis into society, for she insists to him that it is a crime to let such a beauty languish away in the countryside. Amused by Frederica and glad of a chance to spite his pestering sisters, he agrees, not quite knowing what he has undertaken.

Frederica is a very strong female character who is quite different than the other of Heyer's heroines I've read about. She is very determined that her beautiful sister Charis will have a perfect London season so she has the opportunity to make an eligible match whilst she pushes her own prospects away from consideration as she believes she is 'on the shelf' in her mid twenties. To go and appeal to a distant 'cousin' that she has never met before shows that she is a confident, determined and strong willed character who really wants to give her younger siblings the very best chance in life that she can. She is no perfect character though and some of her downfalls are shown in her blindness with her dealings of her younger siblings occasionally.

Vernon, the Marquis of Alverstoke is a thirty seven year old 'creme of the ton' bachelor who is completely against marriage although he is the hope of every match making mother. He is as well known in society for his elegant dress as his lazy attitude because he never makes an effort to lift so much as a finger for anyone, least of all his sisters. This is shown at the beginning of the book, when he takes pleasure in the frustrations of his sister when he refuses to hold a ball at his house for the introduction of his niece to the ton on her season debut. He developed a lot throughout the book as he gets to know the Merriville family better throughout the book and learns to be willing to put himself out for others for the first time in his life, much to the surprise of society. However he is not one of those characters that goes from seemingly detestable to loving because I could see glimpses of the honourable man that was hiding inside him, for example in the respectful and friendly way he treats his secretary. One of my favourite things about his character was his dry wit and humorous banter with Frederica and it was great to see his feelings for her slowly developing.

I really loved reading about the antics of Frederica's younger brothers Jessamy and Felix and it turned out that their interactions with Vernon turned out to be some of my favourite parts of the book. I couldn't help but fall for the with the Merriville family because they are such a bubbly and loving brood with the best of intentions. Harry is the eldest of the family and the head now that their parents have died and a lot of responsibility fell on his shoulders at a young age. He doesn't really come into the book until late on because is is studying at Oxford. Jessamy is the eldest boy at home and often troubles himself considering moral issues and behaving older than his time and often tries to prove his worth as a young man instead of  boy, resulting in hairy and embarrassing scrapes. Charis is the renowned beauty of the family who makes men fall for her left and right with her looks and sweet manners but is too tender hearted to discourage any of her unsuitable suitors. Despite her appearance, she is very feather brained and I found that she was outshined by her siblings. Twelve year old Felix is a mischievous yet intelligent little rascal causing worry and threats in his schemes yet so good natured and earnest that no one could help but like him. I felt that he was very three dimensional too and I liked his obsession with steam engines and hydraulics. It was amusing to see the way he softened Lord Alverstoke's heart and wrapped himself around his little finger where no one else could succeed - so cute!

Although the book is set during the London season, the plot doesn't just revolve around society parties and balls so I enjoyed seeing another aspect to life in Regency London and getting an insight into family life there. There was also some fantastic detail about the sights of London and new- fangled inventions such as hot air balloons. The Regency language is also very much present and my regency slang vocabulary increased a lot but it isn't cumbersome to the story or stuffy at all.
The only thing I would say is a small downfall is that it occasionally becomes too drawn out and some parts could be cut out to keep it from becoming too long unnecessarily.

Verdict: Frederica is a playful and adventurous historical romance filled with engaging characters, mischievous antics and humorously romantic conversations that put a smile on my face. It is my second favourite Heyer novel I've read yet and I would recommend it to all fans of the genre. If you're an Austen fan, then Heyer's books should be at the top of your TBR list.

Rating: 4 stars


  1. I have seriously never read any Georgette Heyer. Is that bad? I'm interested to see what other books you read for this challenge, and I loved your review for this one! It sounds great :)

  2. @Melissa Haha, not exactly bad! I don't think she's as well known in the states but she's really worth a try if you like the sound of her regency romances. I know it's not your usual kind of choice but it might be nice for a chancge :)

  3. I think Frederica was one of the Georgette Heyer novels I enjoyed more as well - from what I recall it was nice to see family play a more prominent role in this book than in some of her others (not just romance).

    And thanks for commenting on my sidebar changes! I was fooling around with my design a little, changing some of the fonts and moving some things around. I was wondering if anyone would notice :D

  4. Frederica is still one of my faves--I even loved the eldest of Alverstoke's sisters. What was her name? Augusta, I think. She was so marvelously haughty and so marvelously perceptive at the same time!

  5. I'm a new follower!

    Sounds like a good novel. ^.^ Great review. I think I'm about to add it to my books-to-read *writes it in* and its done. =D

  6. This sounds like a fun read. I'll look for it as I work on my Heyer challenge.


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