Lynn Gardner: The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer


7.01.2019

The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer


Depend upon it, you are just the sort of girl a man would be glad to have for his sister! You don't even know how to swoon, and I daresay if you tried you would make wretched work of it, for all you have is common sense, and of what use is that, pray?

Gervase Frant, the seventh Earl of St. Erth, has returned home from the Napoleonic wars to lukewarm welcome. His stepfamily resents him for getting in the way of a fortune and title which they deserved far more than he. Why, they wonder, couldn't Gervase have been a good sport and died on campaign? The nerve of the man! Only Cousin Theo and Miss Morville, a guest of his stepmother, seem pleased to see him.

And then a series of strange incidents and unfortunate accidents beset the Earl. Is it all just coincidence or is someone trying to get him out of the way ...

Oh, how I enjoyed The Quiet Gentleman! It's not a traditional Heyer romance -- indeed, the primary romance is so subtle as to be barely there -- but it makes for a rollicking good mystery. The characters and dialog were so well written that, while I detested Dowager Lady St Erth, still I took a great deal of pleasure from her barbs. And, even though this is a mystery, there is a lot of humor and wit afoot.

One of my favorite scenes is in Chapter 10, when Miss Morville is walking through the wood at twilight and hears the thud of horse's hooves. The scene could easily go very Gothick, but Heyer pushes it in the opposite direction:

The woods were full of shadows, and already a little chilly, after the setting of the sun, but Miss Morville, neither so fashionable as to disdain wearing a warm pelisse, nor so delicate as to be unable to walk at a brisk pace, suffered no discomfort. She did not even imagine, when some small animal stirred in the undergrowth, that she was being followed; and was so insensible as to remain impervious to the alarm which might have been caused by the sudden scutter of a rabbit across the path ... The thud of a horse's hooves came to her ears, which led her to suppose, not that a desperate, and probably masked, brigand approached, but that the Earl, having parted from the Grampounds, was on his way back to the Castle.

Mind you, the poor girl was raised in a very intellectual household and cannot be expected to demonstrate proper feminine sensibility!

The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer (Harlequin Books, 2006)

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