Guest Review: Sylvester by Georgette Heyer (1957)

     After falling head over heels in love with Sir Waldo Hawkridge in The Nonesuch, I thought that no other male protagonist would come close to being as wonderful as he. But now I’ve decided that the Duke of Salford, also known as the titular Sylvester, comes a close second. He’s charming (though a bit conceited) and strong-willed and is entirely devoted to his mother. At the age of twenty-eight, he’s finally decided to take a wife and his mother and godmother think Phoebe Marlow might be just the girl for him. Unfortunately, he unknowingly snubbed young Phoebe at Almack’s last season and she subsequently cast him as the evil Count Ugolino in the novel she secretly wrote. And what’s worse, the character has more in common with the Duke than Phoebe ever knew and, once the novel is published, it will be impossible to hide the fact that she once thought him insufferable. What follows is part romance and part comedy as these two attempt to put aside all fictions and discover who the other one really is.

Though borrowing quite heavily from Pride and Prejudice (of which there are heaps of both), this was still a fun story. Phoebe is a bit manic for my tastes but she’s also very entertaining and I have to give her credit for standing her ground and contemplating having a career instead of just becoming a wife and mother. The plot of this story becomes a bit far-fetched by the end but it was easily forgivable.

My favorite character in the story (besides Sylvester, of course) has to be the outrageous Sir Nugent Fotherby, who is described in thefollowing tongue-in-cheek way —
“Other men might envy Sir Nugent; they could not despise him, for his pedigree was impeccable, his fortune exceeded sixty thousand pounds a year, and he had it on the authority of those boon-companions whom Lord Marlow rudely stigmatized as barnacles that, just as in all manners of fashion he was the finest Pink of the Ton, in the world of sport he figured as a Nonpareil, a regular Top-of-the-Trees, a Sure Card, up to all kinds of slums, never to be beaten on any suit.”
Sir Nugent is so ridiculous and is the perfect caricature of the Regency dandy. There are a few other stellar supporting characters in the story and I enjoyed almost every moment with them. This is one of the best Heyer romances I’ve read so far and would be a great choice for a reader new to her work as it’s not overly heavy on the period slang.
~Kristen M. at We Be Reading
*Don’t forget to enter to win one of two fabulous Georgette Heyer Prize Packs from Sourcebooks. Also each “meaningful” comment on any Georgette Heyer post (including this one) in the month of August at Stiletto Storytime will also get you additional entries.*


Filed under Adult Books, Contests, Events, Georgette Heyer, historical fiction

10 responses to “Guest Review: Sylvester by Georgette Heyer (1957)

  1. Mary Preston

    Part romance & part comedy make for great reading. I don’t mind period slang at all. It’s fun to decipher it.


  2. I love the idea of her venting her frustration with Sylvester out in her novel and then not being able to take it back when she realizes that he isn’t as bad as she thought. I can just see the dilemma: either she gets the man and her novel isn’t published or having her dream of being an authoress comes true but she loses the guy! I don’t know if this is actually the plot in the story but I can imagine it comes into play :). Thanks for the review!

  3. Georgette Heyer really does have a comical streak, doesn’t she? Thanks for this review, I can’t wait to read this one!

  4. I read and really enjoyed this one recently. I recommend it highly.

  5. stilettostorytime

    Thanks so much for the wonderful review Kristen! An authoress at that time…kind of makes you wonder who might have inspired that idea for Heyer?

  6. Na

    Georgette Heyer is a new author to me although I have heard many things about her books. I do appreciate a man like Sylvester who is devoted to his mother, which would forgive any minor arrogance for me. I might consider reading “Sylvester” as the first book by this author.

  7. I remember reading this! Poor Phoebe! Fancy writing a novel that borrows its caricature from the man who wants to marry you! It was a very amusing storyline!

  8. Laura W

    This book is so much fun! Sir Nugent is one of Heyer’s best caricatures and when Master Henry calls him a Bad Man it makes me laugh out loud every time! I love the road trip parts of this book: nothing like being stuck with a few people at an inn out in the middle of nowhere for really getting to know each other!

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