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Tag Archives: English 301 Reading Heyer’s Venetia

Yes, I still want to be Venetia when I grow up. Sigh.

If you recall, we left off last week with Venetia making a shocking call on Damerel at his bachelor home without any chaperon.

In chapter 15, Heyer continues with this breach of propriety in the way she shows us the servants’ reaction and in her description of the room to which she is shown to wait for Damerel.

The saloon seemed unfriendly, with no fire burning in the hearth, and the furniture primly arranged. They had never sat in it when Aubrey was at the Priory, but always in the library, and it still bore the appearance of a room that was never used. Venetia supposed that Imber must have led her to it either to emphasize his disapproval, or because Damerel had not yet finished his business with his agent.

Dun. Dun. Dun.

Everyone pretend that I saw through that his business with his agent right away.

Uh, no. I did not.

He came back to her, and grasped her wrists. “I told you also we would talk of it when we were cooler: well, my love, the night brings counsel! And the day has brought your uncle– and there let us leave it, and say nothing more than since there’s no help, come let us kiss, and part!

She lifted her face in mute invitation; he kissed her, swiftly and roughly, and almost flung her away. “There! Now go, before I take still worse advantage of your innocence!” He strode over to the door, and wrenched it open, shouting to Imber to send a message to Nidd to bring Miss Lanyon’s mare up to the house.

Now there is a man under the grip of strong emotion.

All the clues I had about what Venetia would do to resolve her situation with Damerel were wrong. Wrong!  My best guess was that somehow Damerel would come to his senses after she moved to her own home. My next best guess was she would get herself compromised somehow.

I confess that I kept thinking of the usual things that happen in Historical Romances penned in the 21st century and that did hamper my ability to work my way though to the possible solutions. I had confidence that Venetia would figure something out, but I did think moving to country by herself would some how be it.

What else didn’t I see coming?

How about Mom being alive? I thought she must be for a while and then around the middle of the book, I figured that couldn’t be, so  I discarded that notion. No, I didn’t see that coming either, and I should have. The clues were there.  Way to go, bro’s, lying to your sister like that.

What about her step-father? Was he a nice guy or a creep who would have taken advantage of Venetia if she weren’t too smart for him? After all, he’s already run off with a married woman once, why wouldn’t he stoop to running off with Venetia? There was a moment there when I was quite worried about the man’s intentions.

I thought the ending was amusing and I loved that way it was so wonderfully anticipated by all the previous times they were interrupted. Poor Damerel, trying so many times to propose to her!

Oh, and wasn’t Edward Yardley THE WORST ever? I wanted to bop that man over the head.

In the end, Venetia wins her man by staying true to herself AND to her understanding of Damerel. If she didn’t truly know his character and love him, she could never have won him. Damerel would have refused to be caught. But, as we know, he was a goner by page 30 (of my edition.)

So often in historical romance, it’s the hero who needs to change. That’s not the case with Venetia. We see, instead, the heroine’s journey into the kind of love that changed her as a person. Though the book opens with the suggestion that Damerel = the fox and Venetia = the best layer, one could argue that by the end, it’s Venetia who plays the role of the fox. Damerel is the ravished best layer. All he can do is capitulate to his superior opponent.

So. What do you guys think? First time readers, or those who recall their first reading, did you anticipate what I did not?

What did you like and not like? Any issues, quibbles or what not? Opine in the comments. Go!]

Well. How’s everyone doing? I still want to be Venetia when I grow up.

Venetia and Damerel have met and he is, of course, doomed. My goodness, but those two are really suited to each other. Sigh.

Chapter 8 pits Damerel and another of Venetia’s admirers, young Mr. Denny. The VERY young Mr. Oswald Denny. I couldn’t help admiring Oswald’s passion even while I was laughing at his complete mistake of everything with respect to Venetia’s feelings for him. Such a teenage boy.  Venetia, I do think, could have handled Oswald better. In this, I think, she was quite naive (see question posed at the end).

How much of himself does Damerel see in Oswald? Do you think the comparison is apt? And yet, as Heyer notes, Oswald sees more clearly than Edward Yardley.  Is Heyer saying something about youth or making a sideways stab at Yardley being more or less a pompous @ss. After all, if Oswald can see that Venetia and Damerel are head over heels, why doesn’t Edward Yardley? (Because he is  P.A., that’s why.)

 In this week’s chapters, Damerel and Venetia seem pretty solidly in love, though they don’t quite fess up to each other or themselves, and there’s way too much of the book left for them to just go on like this. I thought the brother would show up, but in these chapters, that doesn’t happen.

Instead, disaster strikes in the form of the unexpected arrival of the absent brother’s wife (!!) and her horrible mother. There is no better foil for Venetia’s goodness and nobility than this awful woman.

And what is the result of placing Venetia in the clutches of this woman? Well, it becomes absolutely positively plain that Venetia must do something. Anything would be better than staying. Heck, marrying Edward Yardley would be better than staying at Undershaw.

One of the results is some of my favorite bits of this book. Damerel, in the grip of very strong emotion;

You remained, and always will, a beautiful, desirable creature. Only my intentions were changed. I resolved to do you no hurt, but leave you I could not!

And then just a little later:

 When you smile at me like this, 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.

Holy Mackerel!! Or, as I like to say, ::swoon::

At the conclusion of Chapter 8, Venetia is about to do the unthinkable: go to Damerel’s house alone. She is aware of the impropriety, but she trusts him and needs his advice. And you, know, there really isn’t anyone else for her to turn to. No one in her circle of acquaintances is suitable to hear her tell the truth about her situation and the choices she sees open to her. Only Damerel will do. And she’s right.

What did you-all think? Favorite scenes? Observations? Spill.

On Twitter, some of us were debating whether Venetia is naive. I would agree that naive is perhaps not quite the right word. So what is?

Opine in the comments.

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.

Favorite lines

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?


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The people have spoken. Our read along choice is Heyer’s Venetia.

How about a start-reading date of March 10?

I think that should give everyone time to get to their favorite library, bookstore or online retailer to obtain a copy.

It occurs to me that some of us may be the Thrive Under Pressure types and may feel the need to delay reading until the very last minute and then engaging in a Venetia fest of page turning. Others of us may be the Steady As She Goes type who will adore a schedule.

I don’t wish to force anyone into an unsuitable reading style and yet we must accommodate the group. The goal, of course, is to reach a point when we have all read the book and can then yak away about what we think whilst having our minds blown from the insights and opinions of other esteemed Read Alongers.

Therefore, I propose a reading schedule with ongoing discussion of the book over the course of, say, 2 to 3 weeks. Anyone who wants to read the book in a big gulp toward the end can certainly do that, but no complaining about spoilers. We Risky types can deal with a little chaos, I’m sure.

I also propose that we be amenable to change — if it turns out we’re all a bunch of over achievers and everyone reads the book by the first weekend, then we adjust accordingly.

Do please weigh in with your suggestions, thoughts, time frames etc., in the comments.

Also, I feel compelled to mention that I elected to obtain the HQN edition of Venetia and while it has a lovely cover and must say I’m disappointed with the quality of the paper. It’s newsprint. For the money, I expected something a bit more durable. I suppose I won’t feel about about writing notes on the pages. I haven’t started reading yet . . .

Comment away.

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