Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Venetia. Georgette Heyer. 1955/2011. Sourcebooks. 368 pages.

'A fox got in amongst the hens last night, and ravished our best layer,' remarked Miss Lanyon. 'A great grand-grandmother, too! You'd think he would be ashamed!'

 I treated myself to a reread of Georgette Heyer's Venetia this week. And if you've read this one--or any Georgette Heyer's historical romances--you'll understand why it's a treat. For there is something oh-so-delightful, oh-so-satisfying about reading one of Heyer's romances. She has a way with her characters, and a way with dialogue.

If Heyer's romances have a flaw--and I don't really think of them as flawed--it would be that they require a bit of patience. You can't rush Heyer. Or, if you do try to rush Heyer, you end up missing the point. For it's all about the journey.

You can skim romances by contemporary authors. You can skim entire paragraphs or entire pages and not miss a thing. You can almost read an entire romance novel of several hundred pages without engaging any thought, any attention to the book in hand. That's why you can read several a day if you're an addict. But you can't skim Georgette Heyer. Not really. Not if you want to really enjoy it. And why bother if you don't want to enjoy yourself?

I've read almost all of Heyer's romances--all but seven, I believe. And Venetia is definitely one of my favorites, one of those in my top five. Now don't ask me to name my absolute favorite and best because I couldn't. I wouldn't even try.

Venetia, our heroine, has spent all of her life in the country having very little to do with society. She's known to two or three families in the neighborhood, perhaps, but for the most part her life has been secluded. She keeps company with her younger brother, Aubrey, whom she adores despite his flaws. He always, always, always has his nose in a book. But her lonely days are about to come to an end...

One day while taking a walk, she meets Lord Damerel. A man with an oh-so-dreadful reputation. He enters the novel in a spectacular way--for better or worse. For he sees the heroine strolling along on his land and impulsively grabs her and kisses her. Leaving her a bit shocked to say the least. They argue. They enjoy arguing. Readers know that Venetia won't be forgetting Damerel any time soon, and vice versa.

But the two really don't get to know one another--and I mean nothing improper by the word know--until her brother, Aubrey, is injured. Aubrey is taking to Damerel's home to recover, and Venetia, good sister that she is, must be near his side. Damerel and Venetia have plenty of time to talk--to really talk--and it's oh-so-obvious that these two are meant to be. That the two are soul mates. But his reputation, his past, is something he can't forget. She knows he's been a bad, bad boy, but she just knows that she loves him, that she accepts him as he is.

Of course, Lord Damerel isn't the only man in love with Venetia. She suffers through two suitors Oswald Denny and Edward Yardley. These two are laughable really. And if you take the time to appreciate them for what they are, for what they add to the novel, then you won't find their scenes boring.

Of course I haven't even mentioned the plot of this one, not really, but I'm not sure that matters so much. For it is the characters that are the heart and soul of this one. I loved, loved, loved the characters in this one. The dialogue of this one is so much fun!!!
"Who are you?" he demanded abruptly. "I took you for a village maiden--probably one of my tenants."
"Did you indeed? Well, if that is the way you mean to conduct yourself amongst the village maidens you won't win much liking here!"
"No, no, the danger is that I might win too much!" he retorted. "Who are you? Or should I first present myself to you? I'm Damerel, you know."
"Yes, so I supposed, at the outset of our delightful acquaintance. Later, of course, I was sure of it."
"Oh, oh--! My reputation, Iago, my reputation!" he exclaimed laughing again. "Fair Fatality, you are the most unusual female I have encountered in all my thirty-eight years!"
"You can't think how deeply flattered I am!" she assured him. "I daresay my head would be quite turned if I didn't suspect that amongst so many a dozen or so may have slipped from your memory."
"More like a hundred! Am I never to learn your name? I shall, you know, whether you tell me or no!" (33)
He released her hands, but only to pull her into his arms. "When you smile at me like that, it's all holiday with me! O God, I love you to the edge of madness, Venetia, but I'm not mad yet--not so mad that I don't know how disastrous it might be to you--to us both! You don't realize what an advantage I should be taking of your innocence!" He broke off suddenly, jerking up his head as the door opening on to the passage from the ante-room slammed. (235)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Jennie said...

I don't know if you do ebooks, but Sourcebooks is running a sale on Heyer this week. All of her ebooks are $1.99 (Same on Amazon)

That sale plus my new birthday Kindle means I'll *finally* get around to reading some soon!

*^_^* said...

Nice post! Awesome!

Jen Robinson said...

I adore Venetia, too, Becky. One of my favorite Heyers. I just bought about 20 of them in ebook format on sale. Not that I don't have the print copies. But if I ever get stranded somewhere with my ipad, I'll have these with me...

book said...

nice post, carry on. i like it and want more like this.thank you

Lorra Wells said...

Thank you so much for this suggestion. I had never heard of Heyer before, and your review made it seem so intriguing. I just received my copy from the library and stayed up most of the night reading Venetia. You mention that you have read most of Heyer's other books. Would you be willing to mention a few of your other favorite titles by this author? She seems to have so many titles; I don't know what to read next.