The Convenient Marriage. By Georgette Heyer. (1934) Read by Richard Armitage. 2010. August 2010. Naxos Audiobooks. 5 hrs. 6 minutes.
You can listen to an audio sample here. You can also listen/download an interview with Richard Armitage on why he enjoys recording audio books.
First sentence: "Lady Winwood being denied, the morning caller inquired with some anxiety for Miss Winwood, or, in fact, for any of the young ladies. In face of the rumour which had come to her ears it would be too provoking if all the Winwood ladies were to withhold themselves."
Lord Rule wants to marry Miss Winwood--the eldest Winwood, Elizabeth. But. Elizabeth is in love with another man--a poorer man, a soldier named Edward Heron. Horatia Winwood is the youngest of three sisters. But she may prove to be the savior of her family. Hoping to save her sister heartache, Horatia comes up with a plan that will allow her sister her happily ever after. All the while saving her family from financial difficulties--due in part to her brother's gambling habits. What if she were to marry Rule instead...
My thoughts on the book/audiobook:
Horatia does have a stammer. Especially when nervous, I wonder how other listeners will respond to it...will they be charmed by it like Rule or find it grating on the nerves?
I loved reading chapter two--as I noted in my review--but I loved, loved, loved hearing it! It makes such a great dramatic scene! Horatio's awkwardness and Lord Rule's graciousness and charm...
'Will you tell me how old you are?'I think it would be hard for anyone to listen to Richard Armitage perform that little scene without falling a little in love.
'Does it matter?' Horatia inquired forebodingly.
'Yes, I think it does,' said his lordship.
'I was afraid it m-might,' she said. 'I am turned seventeen.'
'Turned seventeen!' repeated his lordship. 'My dear, I couldn't do it.'
'I'm too young?'
'Much too young, child.'
Horatia swallowed valiantly. 'I shall grow older,' she ventured. 'I d-don't want to p-press you, but I am thought to be quite sensible.'
'Do you know how old I am?' asked the Earl.
'N-no, but my cousin, Mrs. M-Maulfrey, says you are not a d-day above thirty-five.'
'Does not that seem a little old to you?' he suggested.
'Well, it is rather old, perhaps, b-but no one would think you as much,' said Horatia kindly.
At that a laugh escaped him. 'Thank you,' he bowed. 'But I think that thirty-five makes a poor husband for seventeen.'
'P-pray do not give that a thought, sir!' said Horatia earnestly. 'I assure you, for my p-part I do not regard it at all. In f-fact, I think I should quite like to marry you.'
'Would you?' he said. 'You do me a great honour, ma'am.' (24-25)
Most romance books are about courtship not marriage. Most leave the 'happily ever after' to your imagination. Of course, the couple stays together forever and after. We don't see any differently. So it is interesting to see a romance novel concerned with the marriage--with what happens after the 'I do.'
I appreciated the flaws of the characters. Most (if not all) of the characters are flawed: Horatia (Horry), Marcus (Lord Rule), Crosby (Rule's cousin), Lord Robert Lethbridge (Rule's long-time nemesis), Viscount Pelham Winwood (Horry's brother), etc.
I loved Rule. I loved Pelham. I also really enjoyed Sir Roland. Was Lethbridge a good villain? I think so! He had just enough charm that you could understand why Horatia (and others) would want to think the best about him despite his reputation. As for our heroine, Horatia, I liked her. She was far from perfect. But she's resourceful and spirited.
Listening to the novel (abridged though it may be) gave me a greater appreciation for Georgette Heyer. Why? While I've always appreciated Heyer's dialogue--it being a chance for her characters to be witty, charming, or romantic--I appreciate it even more having heard it performed. The wit seems funnier. The action scenes even more dramatic. The love scenes even more romantic. I wouldn't have thought it possible for one narrator to convey the chemistry between two characters--but with Armitage narrating it works really well.
Have you read the book or listened to the audio? Do you have a favorite character? A favorite scene?
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews