I am continuing to work, very slowly, through Georgette Heyer’s novels, though not in any particular order – just reading them as I come across them. As I discovered in the comments section of my Historical Musings post on Heyer last month, I seem to have read very few of the books most people name as favourites – books like Cotillion, The Grand Sophy and These Old Shades. I will get to them eventually, but for now I’m posting my thoughts on my latest Heyer read, Faro’s Daughter.
Published in 1941, Faro’s Daughter is one of Heyer’s Georgian novels, set slightly earlier than the Regency period for which she is best known. Our heroine is Deborah Grantham, a young woman who has lived with her aunt, Lady Bellingham, since being orphaned several years earlier. Finding herself struggling financially, Lady Bellingham, who has always enjoyed hosting card parties, has decided to open a gaming house in order to make ends meet. The intelligent and quick-witted Deb presides over the gaming tables and naturally attracts a lot of attention from the men who come to gamble. One of these is Adrian, Lord Mablethorpe, who is five years younger than Deb and convinced that he is in love with her.
Adrian is heir to a fortune and Lady Mablethorpe is horrified at the thought of her son marrying a woman from a gaming house. Luckily, there are still a few months until he comes of age and receives his inheritance, so she enlists the help of her nephew, Max Ravenscar, to ensure that the marriage is prevented. Visiting Lady Bellingham’s establishment to see Deb for himself, Max is surprised to find that she is not at all the common, vulgar woman he had been led to believe. He keeps his promise to his aunt, however, and offers Deb a bribe to stay away from Adrian, but Deb is so offended by this insult that she decides not to inform Max that she never had any intention of marrying Adrian in the first place – it will be much more satisfying to make him suffer for a while!
Like most of Heyer’s novels, this is an entertaining read with a lively plot involving card games, a curricle race, visits to Vauxhall Gardens, and even several kidnappings. It hasn’t become a favourite, though, and that’s because I just never quite managed to like either Max or Deb. Max annoyed me with his constant name-calling and failure to see through any of Deb’s schemes, and while I could appreciate Deb as a clever and resourceful heroine, I couldn’t warm to her either.
Heyer’s romances seem to be divided into a few general types and the ones like this or Regency Buck, to give another example, where the hero and heroine are engaged in a war of words and battle of wits, appear to be the ones I like least. I usually prefer the books where the romance develops from friendship and mutual liking or with a newly married couple learning to love each other. This isn’t necessarily the case when I read books by other authors, but it seems to be true of my experience with Heyer!
This book was a slight disappointment for me, then, although I did still find things to enjoy. Maybe it was just the wrong choice of Heyer at the wrong time, as I couldn’t help comparing it to my last one, The Corinthian, which I found a complete delight to read. I can’t love them all, though, and at least I still have many more unread Heyer novels to look forward to.