Are you stressed out right now? Tons of stuff to do and need a bit of a break in which you can turn your brain of and forget about the world for a while? I recommend Georgette Heyer’s book A Convenient Marriage, for it is delightfully simple in plot and character development, but also written in such a perfect 18th century voice and with loads of humor, you cannot help but have a good time.
Fun but Jesus
As in any Heyer book, romance is at the heart of the plot. In this tale, our lovers are the Earl of Rule, an extremely wealthy, handsome, intelligent libertarian/corinthian, and Horiatia Winwood, a brave but impulsive teenage girl who is not considered a beauty by anyone. Initially, the Earl has intended to marry Horatia’s older sister Lizzie. He needs an heir and desires a connection with the ancient and aristocratic Winwood family. Lizzie sadly could not care less for marrying this earl at all – she would rather enter a love match with the not-well-connected and impoverished Lieutenant Heron. But her brother has put the family in debt and the Earl is EXTREMELY wealthy. So Lizzie begins preparing for martyrdom.
But then her very young little sister hatches a plan that unlikely to work, but somehow does: Horatia shows up at Rule’s door and stammers her way through a proposal to him – why should he care which Winwood-Sister he marries? Yes, Horatia is not considered pretty and struggles with a stammer, but she would be willing to look away from her future husband’s habit of keeping a mistress in returns for his help with the Winwood finances. For some reason, which we will discover in the course of the novel, Rule accepts Horiatia and within the first chapters they are married. But will their marriage remain one of convenience? Will Horatia manage to keep herself out of Rule’s affairs? And will anyone, like Rule’s mistress or arch enemy, try to come between the Earl and his bride?
His brow growing black as thunder (…)
This is a melodrama of the best sort: plots are hatched, traps sprung, quarrels are fought and romance ensues. I do not think I reveal much when I say that the book has a happy ending – any Heyer book has! But there is plenty of humor here: all the aristocrats are of course silly and stupid (except Rule who is handsome, sarcastic and brooding) and Horatia gets herself into plenty of scraps with her unique mixture of a sense of adventure, gambling addiction, sharp tongue and naiveté. And like in any other Heyer-book, the dialogue is written in delightfully formal and witty 18th century parlor. Her plots also draw heavily on the greats of that periods, like Jane Austen. A Convenient Marriage takes a lot of inspiration from Pride & Prejudice, with its misunderstandings, villainous charmers and a headstrong heroine.
This book is a fun and easy read, but do not expect innovation or three dimensional characters here. Just lean back and have fun in the drawing rooms and at the card tables of Regency England.