"The Nonesuch"

The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer

I don't think I'll ever be a great fan of this author. I can't say I dislike her books, only that after reading two of them I didn't find much to make me want more. The things I don't like about them outweigh the those I do.

This one is a romance, which I'm guessing all her books are. If I'm wrong about that let me know. The Nonesuch is Sir Waldo Hawkridge, a wealthy, handsome, all around stand up guy. This is a man with no faults, that same guy who's been showing up in countless other romances since romance was invented. Every other man in the book has shortcomings, but not our hero - he is perfect! He falls in love, of course, with the one woman who is level-headed, patient, kind, noble, wise and elegant. She is surrounded by girls who are spoiled air-heads, but she - like our hero - is faultless. 

By the opening pages of the second chapter the direction of the story and the ending can be easily predicted. There is never any question how it will turn out so it was hard to stay interested. I kept going because I wanted to write about it and it wouldn't be fair to write about a book I hadn't finished.

I was disappointed with the way the author worked out certain situations toward the end. Instead of  moving the story forward with interaction between characters, she gives them a page to think and take giant leaps to conclusions, then ta-da!, suddenly they understand all and know just what to do. I guess she got tired of writing. I felt cheated.

Another irritating thing was the excess use of Regency-era slang. Using it with restraint can create authenticity but she's trying too hard in passages like these, and the book was full of them:

"Stop trying to make a pigeon of me! You'll only be gapped, you know! What's the matter? Are you in the suds?"

"She wouldn't have raised such a breeze if I'd had the sense to have taken off my bars. The thing was she'd put me in such a tweak by that time that I was hanged if I'd cry craven! Told her that if she tried to shab off I'd squeak beef..."

Stereotypical characters, weak writing and a predictable ending add up to just another formula romance. I liked the setting of 1800's England because I like the manor houses, vicarages, horses, carriages and such, and I liked it for what it didn't have - violence, steamy bedroom scenes, vampires  - but that wasn't enough to overcome the book's flaws. I don't think I'll read any more of them, but then you never know. Sometimes I want something light and easy to read and if there's nothing else at hand one of these might do.   


Stephanie said...

I won't argue with your opinion, but you do realize that Heyer created the genre of historical romance right? She did all the research on how people actually spoke in the era, most of which was later plagerized by other writers. Your issues sound like a teenager complaining about Shakespeare using cliches. If you don't like her writing style, that's fine. Im less of a fan of romances and prefer her detective novels. But at least she is historically accurate, unlike most of the modern writers of this genre.

Ordinary Reader said...

Hmmm. Should the fact that the author created the genre affect my opinion of the writing? I agree with her opinion of her own book when she said (referring to a comment made about her): "My plots are abysmal, and I think of them with blood and tears; I did not say that I was especially fond of False Colours! What I may well have said was that I don’t think it stinks as much as The Nonesuch." I probably wouldn't have been as harsh as she was on herself but I understand she was a formidable woman who didn't mince words, even about her own writing. And I don't question at all her knowledge of the slang of the day, only the excessive use of it.

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