THE GRAND SOPHY
Harlequin Historical, 1950
Reviewed by Susan Conatser
Lord and Lady Omberley's house on Berkley Square is teeming with family drama. Sir Horace Stanton-Lacy, a diplomat for the British Government, has asked his sister Lady Omberley to sponsor his twenty year old daughter, Sophy, while he is away on government business in Brazil. It's been many years since Elizabeth has seen her niece, and Sophy was always a sweet child, but things are in an unsettled state with the family. Lady Omberley hopes she can help Sophy find a suitable gentleman, while dealing with the turmoil among her own brood.
The family has only recently recovered from near financial ruin due to Lord Omberley's foolish mismanagement. Their oldest son, Charles Rivenhall, has saved the family with an inheritance from the estate of his late uncle. The windfall makes Charles the head of the household, taking control from his wastrel father. Charles is also recently engaged to a dull bluestocking, Miss Eugenia Wraxton. Between Charles's tendency towards tightfisted management and his humorless fiancee, they threaten to reign with a disapproving frown over the entire household.
Charles has given Lord Charlbury, a middle aged nobleman, permission to court his eighteen year old sister, Cecilia. But Cecilia has fallen in love with another: Augustus Fawnhope, a penniless second son who writes romantic poetry in Lord Byron's style. The family also includes Hubert, enrolled at Oxford, Theodore, a student at Eton, sixteen-year-old Selina, and the little ones, Gertrude and Amabel. Onto this busy household descends Sophy Stanton-Lacy. She has followed her father through Spain and Portugal on diplomatic business and moved in fascinating circles on the Continent. The statuesque, curly haired young woman arrives with a menagerie of pets: a monkey, Jacko, an Italian greyhound, a talking parrot with salty dialogue, and a Spanish thoroughbred, Salamanca. Her arrival leaves the family breathless with awe. Within a short time, Sophy sees the family is desperately in need of her skills. Sophy is masterful at handling people. Her travels with her father have given her a few diplomatic skills of her own.
Georgette Heyer is often hailed the mistress of Regency Romance, and it's easy to see why. Heyer has created a spirited and entertaining cast of characters in THE GRAND SOPHY. Written in 1950, I found the story structure different from the current popular novel. For instance, the main characters weren't introduced until the third chapter. The irrepressible Sophy has a razor sharp wit and a dry sense of humor. She tries to manage Charles and her cousins, but mostly she manages to turn the household upside down. This lighthearted, laugh out loud romance is suitable for young and old readers. This is my first novel by Ms. Heyer but it won't be my last. Georgette Heyer's novels are currently being reissued by Harlequin and she has a long backlist of titles for readers to enjoy.
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