"Lady of Quality"

Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer

It's never a good sign when you can't decide if you liked a book. That is the position I find myself in with "Lady of Quality". I enjoyed some aspects of it but on the whole found it a little disappointing.

 It opens with Miss Annis Wychwood and her paid companion, Miss Maria Farlow, traveling back to her home in Bath after visiting her brother, Geoffery. Miss Wychwood is 29 years old, rich and beautiful. Miss Farlow is of indeterminate age, poor, and annoying, but she is a necessity if Annis wishes to live independently in her own home without causing a scandal.

On the way they come upon an accident scene involving a young girl, Lucilla Carleton, whom Annis decides to take under her wing until the girl's family situation can be worked out. With the seventeen year old heiress is a young man, Ninian Elmore, (seriously...Ninian? Wonder was his nickname was.) whose protective feelings toward her led him to set out after her as she rashly attempted to run away from home.

Once back home with her new charge, Annis is quickly made aware that everyone disapproves of her decision to take Lucilla in. Her brother Geoffery and his wife Amabel, Maria Farlow, and Lucilla's uncle, Oliver Carleton are all angry and frustrated. Mr. Carleton comes to Bath to make his position clear, which he does forcefully and repeatedly, and Annis for some inexplicable reason is attracted to him. He's very tiresome really, but I think we're supposed to see beyond his arrogance and insufferable rudeness and find something likeable underneath. I never did.

I've read reviews that compare Georgette Heyer to Jane Austen so I had high - too high - expectations. Jane Austen makes me feel like I'm living in the story. Georgette Heyer makes me feel like I'm watching a tv show. The language feels contrived, the characters stereotypical and the plot stale. This story, written in 1972, about life in Regency England doesn't hold up to Austen's writing done in that actual time and place. If I had to give it a rating out of 10 I'd probably say 5. It's not awful, just not very good. I do enjoy novels set in that time period but I found this one weak, insipid.

Will I read any more of her novels? Maybe, sometime when filling my mind with anything but my own reality is what I need. I have a list of authours I turn to when I want only harmless distraction and Georgette Heyer will be on it.


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