Monday, July 13, 2009

Cotillion


Cotillion is defined as "a type of patterned social dance that originated in France in the 1700s and was originally made up of four couples in a square formation, the forerunner of the quadrille ..."

Cotillion, Heyer-style, is three couples and one devious romantic 'hero' type making trouble and oh man, what a mad wonderful dizzying whirl of plot complications and highly contrasting characters. Well, technically a fourth couple is created very late in the piece and is so hysterical that okay yes, I'm now totally counting them as the official fourth. Hee!

Gosh, the characterisation was wonderful. Especially our hero! Cos from the blurb on the back, I had no idea what his name would be and had a vague memory from scanning some Heyer article that perhaps it would be Freddy but perhaps I remembered wrong. I did sort of hope it would be Hugh, the grave prickly Rector, but wasn't sure if that was entirely kosher.

But oh I certainly didn't expected our hero to be, as a friend rightly pointed out when I forced her to read the first two pages when he appears, a Bertie Wooster! Hysterically inarticulate but, unlike Wooster, marvellously practical and unaffected. So sensible that when everything came to a head, I was chafing and chafing for him to appear, so much so that when he did I had to burst out with "Oh thank god!"

And our heroine was gratifyingly spirited and indignant, compassionate and fair-minded. What I loved best was that she grew up and came out over the course of the novel, evolved her understanding of the world and of people in such a great steady smart way. Lovely character arc.

Which made the romance kind of refreshing in that it was a far more subtle deepening of a friendship and understanding with the passion emerging at exactly the right moment with exactly the right ferocity. I did like that for itself, knowing that this particular couple will be intimate friends as well as lovers, that they understand each other perfectly. So I was all wreathed with grins at the utterly sweet final scene. Hee.

I especially loved that the 'romantic hero' type was showed up in all his unpleasantness, that he didn't win the day, and that in effect the nice guys got the girls. So clever of Heyer and so sweet of her! *claps happily* 1953 this was written, evidence of a definite evolution, whee!

Oh Heyer. Thank you for existing.

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