The Convenient Marriage
By Georgette Heyer
I am pretty sure the term “screwball comedy” had not been coined when this book was published, but that is a more than adequate description. I can not remember the last time I laughed out loud at a book. And I don’t mean a lady like chuckle. I mean full-on belly laughs. This book is just SO FUNNY. Like Jane Austen on laughing gas.
Our Heroine is a Miss Horatia Winwood. Miss Winwood is described as a plain girl. A plain girl with what is apparently a rather enchanting stutter. She is the youngest of three girls, all of marriageable age, but Horatia just barely. She is seventeen. When her eldest sister is offered for by the much older Earl of Rule and thoroughly heartbroken because of it (she loves another, lesser man), Horatia proposes to marry the Earl of Rule instead. Finding himself quite taken with her spirit and vivacity, he consents and the two are in due time wed and are pretty happy with their arrangement. All is going well, until the Earl of Rule’s arch enemy Sir Robert decides to woo and scandalized poor Horatia. In true Georgette Heyer fashion, all kinds of mishaps ensue, including holdups, sword fights, and a rather froufrou-ish hat may have been completely destroyed at the hands of, erm, well, a boot.
I’ve only read one other book by Georgette Heyer, Charity Girl, which I also really, really liked. But I just loved this one. It may have been a timing thing, but it was a read I really needed; lighthearted and fun. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much at a period novel. Horatia was wonderful, so lighthearted, but also stubborn, willful and petulant, but not in an overt way; just enough to be charming. Rule was sly and witty and had a great sense of humor. And rather, you know, sexy as well. The character of Crosby Drelincourt, who is the Earl of Rule’s heir, is just fall-down and roll-around-in-the-floor hilarious. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a character quite like him.
All in all this is a fantastic little historical fiction romp through England and I’m glad I got the chance to read another book by Heyer. I plan to read many, many more of her books. This would be a great book to take on vacation.