Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer
Paperback, 368 pages
Sourcebooks Casablanca reissue June 2011, originally published 1955
Review posted by Burton Book Review
A Delightful Tangle of Affairs…
The Earl of Spenborough had always been noted for his eccentricity. Leaving a widow younger than his own daughter Serena was one thing, but leaving his fortune to the trusteeship of the Marquis of Rotherham – the one man the same daughter had jilted – was quite another.When Serena and her lovely young stepmother Fanny decide to move to Bath, Serena makes an odd new friend and discovers an old love. Before long, they’re all entangled in a clutter of marriage and manners the likes of which even Regency Bath has rarely seen.
Bath Tangle is another one of Georgette Heyer's witty romances, and this one really had me laughing towards the end. Lady Serena is a willful young woman, destined to be a spinster, who now lives with her younger mother-in-law who has no idea how to reign in Serena's wild ways. Lord Rotherham has been named as a guardian of her inheritance, which really should not be of a huge concern except that he must also approve of whom Serena chooses to marry. This could become tangled due to the fact that there is some prior history between Lady Serena and Lord Rotherham where Serena backed out of their marriage negotiations at the last moment.
Serena is a wonderful character to read of, and she was the exact opposite of the ladylike of her sweet-natured mother-in-law, Fanny. After Serena's father's death, we wondered what exactly would happen to Serena, and how the arrangement between her and Rotherham would wreak havoc. Lo and behold, Serena becomes reacquainted with a previous suitor and they contrive to hide their relationship until the proper mourning period has passed. All this seems simple and straightforward, yet as only Georgette Heyer can divulge, Regency hijinks galore follows Serena everywhere she goes. Rotherham is left to wonder at her, as he obligingly lets her live her wild life, but poor Fanny is all in a flutter and Serena' betrothed doesn't know whether to be besotted or scornful.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the reader knows that Lady Serena is making another mistake by betrothing herself to Major Hector Kirkby. And there are more love tangles in Bath as Rotherham is engaged to a young lass who has no idea what she is getting herself into besides the idea of a coronet. As always, Bath Tangle contains a lot of witty remarks and colorful Regency dialogue with a bit of action at the end, making for a typical Georgette Heyer romance that demonstrates her clever prose with ease. For readers who are new to Heyer, they may not appreciate the prose at first, especially as this one started off hard to follow with many characters. It turns out that the story ended up following along with just a few of these initial characters and thus became easier to follow after a few more chapters. Moreover, it was a bit slow to reach any feverish pitch, so Bath Tangle would be best suited for those already with an admiration for Georgette Heyer. This was my eighth Heyer novel, and I am still ready for more of Heyer's classy writing and charming Regency situations. I have enjoyed both her romances and her mysteries, and if you have enjoyed Jane Austen, you really need to discover Georgette Heyer as well.
Read an excerpt of Bath Tangle here and one from later in the book can be found here towards the 'product description'.