Woot!! The read along begins. I am SO looking forward to everyone’s thoughts and remarks.
I’ll jump right in with some of my initial thoughts, in no particular order, right after I confess that I finished the book a couple of days after I started it. At the moment, I am pretending I have read only to chapter 7.
There were a lot that I loved, including the very first line:
“A fox got in amongst the hens last night, and ravished our best layer,” remarked Miss Lanyon.
This happened out here at Jewel central except the fox ate all most ALL our layers. And one of the roosters. Also, no Lord Damerel has shown up so far.
But really, the use of the word ravished absolutely floored me. What kind of proper young Miss says that? And then, what does that sly comment reveal about her? She used ravished when she could have said ate. The sentence is utterly sexualized, and not just because of the ravishing. The fox inserted itself amidst numerous hens and yet, despite this orgiastic behavior, it took only the best. What a sly fox!
Heyer chose her words carefully and this sentence proves it. It’s a lovely set up for the framework of the novel. Damerel = the fox. Venetia = the best layer. [Do you agree? Disagree? Am I full of baloney on this one?]
From the first sentence we know the speaker is clever, amusing and perhaps bold. We can also guess that she is among friends. A young lady of the Regency clever enough to turn this phrase won’t utter it unless she knows it will be properly received.
So, I can firmly say that I fell in love with Venetia (the character) from the very first sentence. I want to be Venetia when I grow up.
Oh, the build up to Damerel’s appearance! I was getting impatient for him to show up, and honestly, in my copy, he physically appears on page 30 which isn’t all that long to wait. I would have skipped pages to get there only I loved Venetia too much to do that.
And then he kisses her! What?! I was astonished. I didn’t expect that he’d act PRECISELY as he’d been described. He didn’t behave with a noble bone (ahem!) in his body. And Venetia, she handles him so beautifully — true to her spirit. Poor Damerel, a goner before page 36.
By the end of chapter 7, the henhouse has been moved to Priory. Oh, my!
A Few Quibbles and Questions
I found the language to be a bit dense at time and so full of slang that some phrases I only guessed at by context. Sometimes there were several in a row, all denoting pretty much the same idea so, (whispering) I felt perhaps Heyer might have been showing off her research.
Another issue that kept coming up for me was the name of Edward’s estate: Netherfold. Am I the only one with a dirty mind? Or who kept thinking of Netherfield in Pride & Predjudice? To my mind, the former name emasculates Edward while the latter name simply makes the P&P estate seem far away. Once again, I think Heyer (and Austen) chose carefully.
I think there were similarities to P&P. There aren’t many (in terms of plot) but for me, they were quite marked — the language for one. I felt I could be reading Austen, which is never a bad thing. One similarity I saw was the impact of an ineffectual father and then elder brother who lays the real responsibilities on the competent daughter/sibling and who may well end up paying a price for their inattention to her. Though at least she had money as Lizzy Bennett did not.
I think that’s more than enough to get us started. What did you think? Favorite lines? Agreement or disagreement with anything I’ve mentioned? Things that struck you as you read?