Arabella by Georgette Heyer
Product ISBN: 9781402219467
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Sourcebooks Publication Date: August 2009
The Burton Review Rating:
Georgette Heyer is a prolific writer of Regency fiction, writing both romances and mysteries with some historical novels also thrown in. Out of the few Regency style novels of Heyer's that I have read so far, Arabella is my absolute favorite. I was completely wrapped up in the story from the very beginning as I was sucked in by Heyer's seemingly unending witty and charming writing style. I feel like I read this book at the most opportune time for me where I needed a light-hearted but not silly and redundant romance. The story of Arabella was a charm in itself that I would be happy to re-read it in the future.
The main protagonist is Arabella who is the eldest daughter among a merchant family and is sent off to London to her godmother to be put out on the town for all the socialites to see. The goal is for Arabella to make a suitably wealthy marriage match which would in turn open doors for the rest of her siblings. Quite to the contrary, Arabella disturbs these chances when she meets the most eligible bachelor in town, Mr. Robert Beaumaris, the epitome of the male fashion in England. Not having a clue as to who he is or what his status is as the veritable nonpareil, the rookie Arabella is provoked into telling a silly white lie that she herself is a wealthy heiress.. and the Heyer madness begins!
Robert of course is intrigued by Arabella's innocent nature and is not fooled for a moment by her little charade, but indeed helps to spin it into web that is quickly out of control of Arabella's naive hands. Her aunt has no idea why so many bachelors have thus come to court Arabella, and it is quickly apparent that everyone in town believes Arabella to be the wealthy heiress that she is definitely not.
One of the endearing scenes features Arabella taking pity on a young chimney sweep who was being misused by old Grimsby. The moment Arabella meets the boy she cleans him up and foists him on Robert to give him a proper life, much to the chagrin of Robert's friend, Fleetwood:
'It ain't that I'm a coward!' protested his lordship. 'But we shall have all the fools in London staring after us! I can't think what's come over you, Robert! You're never going to keep this brat in Mount Street! If it leaks out, and it's bound to, I suppose you know everyone will think it's a by-blow of yours?'
'The possibility had crossed my mind,' agreed Mr Beaumaris. 'I am sure I ought not to let it weigh with me: Miss Tallant certainly would not.'
'Well, damn it, I think that prosy fool, Bridlington, was right for once in his life! You've gone stark, staring mad!'
'Very true, I have known it this half-hour and more.'
Lord Fleetwood looked at him in some concern. 'you know, Robert, if you're not careful you'll find yourself walking to the altar before you're much older!' he said.
'No, she has the poorest opinion of me,' replied Mr Beaumaris. 'I perceive that my next step must be to pursue the individual known to us as "ole Grimsby".'
The most charming part about this story is Arabella's kind nature. She is sweet, kind to animals (and chimney sweepers), and absolutely hilarious when dealing with Robert Beaumaris. Her brother Bertram is a fine chap as well who also goes to London and gets himself into major gambling scrapes. Poor Bertram and Arabella each have their own potentially disastrous secrets and as expected, Beaumaris comes to the rescue in the end, but he lets them each suffer long enough to wreak havoc on their personal lives.
Heyer's writing is superb in this one, I breezed through this read with ease, and was so sad to be done with the story. The characterizations of Arabella's family, friends and the London scenes made me want to transport myself back in time, although I certainly would want to distance myself from some of the fortune hunters that we meet in Arabella's story. I would not hesitate to recommend this novel to Regency enthusiasts, Austen fans, romance readers and, of course, Heyer fans. I have many more Heyer reads to go, but I wonder if they could hold a candle to this one, I was laughing out loud during some of the adventures of Arabella. Her sympathy for others was a delight to behold, for both the reader and for Robert Beaumaris, although Robert was caught up in her sympathies more often than he intended. He was quite the knight in shining armor but not so much that we despised the characterization. This is easily one of my absolute favorite reads of 2009.
See my other Georgette Heyer related posts here. (At Burton Book Review)
This is how much I ADORED ARABELLA: