THE ANONYMOUS AMANUENSIS
Judith B. Glad

 


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Awe-Struck E-Books, Feb 2005
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood
 
Regency
 
Eve Dixon, destitute spinster, isn’t suited to any of the jobs in which spinsters are usually employed. Teacher, governess, or companion are the acceptable jobs for gently bred young women whose family resources have melted away. Certainly not secretary, and especially not secretary to a gentleman. But Eve’s experience working with her grandfather Sir Wilfred and her Uncle Alfred have proven that she is well suited to secretarial work. She is determined to find a better employer than her uncle, and do the only work she finds rewarding.
 
Sadly, she learns her skeptical Uncle Chas and her friend Tom are right. No one will trust his business affairs to a woman. Determined not to crawl back to her family and live the life of a poor relation, Eve learns to dress and behave as a man. With her sex no longer overshadowing her skills, Eve is immediately hired. James Quinton is a son of an Earl who has gone into trade. This unconventional behavior made Eve’s new boss an outcast from society for several years in the past, but his ability to do the unusual does not mean he would accept Eve if he knew who she was. James Quinton hates women. Naturally, Eve and James fall in love. James, of course, doesn’t know what the feeling is. The necessary unmasking is well handled, with a series of surprises.
 
THE ANONYMOUS AMANUENSIS is for those who like their Regencies with a twist of the fantastic. Given the impossibility of the situation, author Judith Glad has imagined a heroine who does exactly as she should do, if a woman really had gotten a job under male disguise. Glad writes about Eve so smoothly that, for most of the book, the reader is not distracted from the all-important suspension of disbelief. Given the general niceness of Eve’s friends and surroundings throughout most of THE ANONYMOUS AMANUENSIS (James’s mother excepted), her sudden decent into hell is a shock. I thought as I read that there were two people Eve should have been able to depend on, so she wouldn’t fall into desperate circumstances. This kept me from believing the last part of the book.
 
Little did Georgette Heyer know, when she picked Regency England as the setting of her enchanting romances, that she was founding a genre. Still less did she guess what uses her setting might be put to. Heyer’s Regency settings and lifestyles were so meticulously researched that her lively, rule-bending heroines seem to fit right in. Ever since then authors have been borrowing the setting, the rule-bending grows ever more extreme, and readers keep buying the books. The Regency tone is still too charming to resist.
 
January 2004 Review

 

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