Guest Review: Pistols for Two by Georgette Heyer (1960)

Pistols for TwoThe first thought I had when I started reading was, “This is that it is a lot like Jane Austen”. Honestly, because I don’t read romances it is the only thing I have to compare it to. There is the same sharp wit, the humor, the preoccupation with good matches, a question of propriety versus love, the grumpy gentleman, the vivacious young ward, picaresque scenes of the English county side and, of course, romance. In the case of Pistols for Twoa series of romances.

Now I hadn’t read the synopsis so I didn’t realize that what I was really reading was a series of romance short stories. I remember thinking that this was one heavily populated novel with so much going on, and I was trying to figure how on earth Heyer was going to tie all the stories together. I had been told that she was a master storyteller, but it was getting ridiculous. Then I finally decided to look at the back of the book… I felt like a total idiot… like a deflating balloon. And admittedly, it was difficult for me to get back into the book. It was already difficult, because as I mentioned earlier, I don’t read romances. So if you don’t read romances, why did you try to read Heyer? Simply because I was curious. I think narrow mindedness is a terrible thing and you don’t know if like/dislike a book/genre/author until you have actually tried to read them. So this is good time as any to say that I only made it half way. I did enjoy two of the stories though; the title story ‘Pistols for Two’ and ‘Bath Miss’.

So let’s start with what I did enjoy, the language;

This unthinkable situation had arisen out of something far more serious. Not that one could call Marianne Treen serious: she was the gayest and most light hearted of all possible causes of dissension.

If nothing else Heyer is very good at that dry British humor which I have learned to love. That counts as a second thing, yay! The above quote proves my point. It comes from the title story, where two friends are willing tear their own friendship asunder for a woman who has made neither of them any promises. This situation brings to mind something that my friends use to say back in our more immature years…on second thought the saying is somewhat offensive, but the general idea is that we weren’t going to allow girl to come between our friendship. Another thing that I liked is a bit of spoiler, that neither of the characters that featured so prominently in the story get the girl. I think it is quite an interesting way to start a book of romantic episodes.

The other story I enjoyed is one that dealt with the issue of propriety, and features that English countryside I spoke about in the introductory paragraph. ‘Bath Miss’, which is very strange title but makes a lot more sense once you have read it, is the story of a gentleman to be married, who has been charged to escort a rather vivacious young woman home from school. So you’ve got a young lady excitable to the point of impropriety, a man locked in a loveless engagement, a troublesome dog, long journey through the country and an awkward moment that brings about what seems to me to be a very predictable ending.

Now I don’t want anyone to think that because I have been unable to finish Pistols for Two that I won’t ever try to read Georgette Heyer again. I guess this just isn’t the right time for me to try, maybe I will grow to appreciate her stories. Any one have any favorite suggestions for me to try next?

~K (The Gentleman) at Baffled Books
*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, Georgette Heyer, historical fiction

8 responses to “Guest Review: Pistols for Two by Georgette Heyer (1960)

  1. That witty dialogue and humor is one of the things I like best about Heyer. I haven’t read this book and I tend not to like short stories as well as novels. I might give this a try – after all her other novels. 😉

    Maybe you should Cotillion. Based upon what you liked and disliked in your post, this might be a book of hers that would please you.

  2. I am not a huge fan of short story collections either so I might not pick this book up, but I am excited to give some of her other books a try. maybe I will take Margaret’s recommendation of Cotillion :). Thanks for the review and recommendation!

  3. I want to try Heyer, but think I’d be better off with one of her mysteries. The title of this book just cracks me up.

  4. stilettostorytime

    Thank you K for your guest post…it was so nice to be able to get that male perspective of Heyer! I personally am enjoying reading “Cotillion” right now so I would recommend it as well.

  5. Excellent, so Cotillion it is. Thanks for the suggestion guys and thanks to Courtney for hosting this. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Classics Corner: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien | BaffledBooks

  7. I really enjoyed Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle. I need to read Pistols for Two.

  8. Mary Preston

    I’m not a fan of short stories. I find them frustrating, so I doubt I will read PISTOLS FOR TWO. There are so many other Georgette Heyer’s to choose from.


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