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Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer

Cousin Kate (original 1968; edition 2005)

by Georgette Heyer

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1,2524210,632 (3.44)1 / 110
In Regency England, penniless Kate Malvern is swept to her aunt's Elizabethan manor and showered with comforts. But despite the luxury of her new life, the atmosphere in the household is less than homely, and gradually it dawns on Kate that there are sinister reasons for her aunt's benevolence.
Title:Cousin Kate
Authors:Georgette Heyer
Info:Arrow (2005), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:historical fiction, read 2011

Work details

Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer (1968)

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English (40)  German (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Kate, an orphan of four-and-twenty, is looking for work as a governess when she’s invited by an aunt she’s never met to come and stay at Staplewood Park.

This is an unexpected and uncomfortable foray into Gothic suspense, in which characters agonise over whether one of their relatives is mentally unstable and who else knows (or suspects) it. Ugh.

Kate, at least, never loses sight that this person is still a person who deserves compassion. But the early 1800s was an era where there wasn’t much of understanding of, nor effective means of supporting people with, mental health issues. As the story progresses, it becomes obvious that this is is not a situation which can be resolved happily.

I liked Kate and I enjoyed her very Heyer-ish romance. I would have liked the suspense if Staplewood had been home to different secrets. ( )
  Herenya | Nov 4, 2018 |
I thought I knew what to expect with Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer, but the author really surprised me with this one. I wasn’t expecting her to deliver a Regency Romance with a touch of creepy Gothic suspense. Although I wasn’t totally able to embrace this combination, I applaud Ms. Heyer for trying.

Kate Malvern is an impoverished young woman who is between posts. Her old nurse goes behind her back and writes to her aunt of her circumstances and when her Aunt Minerva invites her to spend some time at Staplewood, Kate thinks this is the answer to her prayers. Unfortunately, before too long, Kate starts to question what is actually going on at this estate, her Aunt is a domineering, possessive woman who seems to be encouraging a relationship to develop between Kate and her son, Torquil. Torquil, in turn, is an excitable, uncontrollable young man given to extreme mood swings. After a number of odd and slightly dangerous incidents Kate realizes that she must leave. To complicate matters further Kate has fallen in love with Torquil’s other cousin, Philip. Can these two young people find happiness in such dark surroundings?

Cousin Kate was published in 1968 when Gothic romances were quite the thing. I believe the author wanted to show that she could hold her own against the likes of Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney and Mary Stewart. While I thought the romance between Kate and Philip was developed too quickly, and the ending was rather depressing, it is still always a treat to read a Georgette Heyer book. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Aug 1, 2018 |
“Cousin Kate” is a more serious – and at times sinister – offering than what Georgette Heyer usually serves up. It’s good in its way, however, I missed the consistent comedy that this author was so brilliant at.

That said, humour does still creep in here and there. I smiled at the way Kate’s nurse Sarah talks to her as if she’s (Kate) still a small child (Kate’s 24), with comments like, “Now you sit down there like a good girl.”

Kate is a likeable character, and is my favourite in the book, but unlike many other Heyer novels, none the characters are larger than life like, for example, they are in “Frederica” and “Black Sheep”.

I tend to find Heyer novels hit or miss, while this one lies somewhere in between. Good, but not great. ( )
  PhilSyphe | May 24, 2018 |
I enjoyed this one just about as much as I have the previous bunch of Heyer novels I've been reading, though the added gothic and mysterious elements even ticked it above a couple of them. ( )
  JBD1 | Mar 4, 2018 |
I disliked the coercion that Kate was trapped into during my first reading and that overwhelmed my liking of the story. However, in re-reading the book, I admired the way Heyer related a tale that was probably all too true for many girls in these periods. Overall, I think it was an insightful narrative, although a bit dark, perhaps even gothic. ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | Sep 24, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Georgette Heyerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bond, JillyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Medeiros, TeresaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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rororo (1212)
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At no time during the twenty-four hours was the Bull and Mouth Inn a place of quiet or repose, and by ten o'clock in the morning, when the stage-coach from Wisbech, turning top-heavily out of Aldersgate, lumbered into its yard, it seemed, to one weary and downcast passenger at least, to be crowded with vehicles of every descripton, from a yellow-bodied post-chaise to a wagon, with its shafts cocked up and the various packages and bundles it carried strewn over the yard.
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When young and beautiful governess Kate Malvern finds herself unemployed in Regency England, is surprised to receive an invitation to live with a distant aunt, Minerva Broome, who she has never met. Rescued from penury by her aunt Minerva, hardly knows what to expect at majestic country home of Staplewood, a Elizabethan manor. Her aunt, uncle, and cousin welcome her to their estate, buy her new clothes, and provide all the amenities a Young lady of quality should have. The life in the grand household is so very different from a life spent following the drum in the Peninsular! But surely, other households are more homelike? Kate's uncle lives in one wing, handsome, moody cousin Torquil in another; cousin Philip appears to have taken her in instant dislike; thought the guests are few, even family dinners are formal.

However, things are not as they seem: strange things start to happen in the manor and Staplewood soon turns from an inviting stately house to a cold and gloomy mansion with a dreadful secret! Slowly, however, as strange events unfold, Kate begins to realize that her aunt's apparent benevolence hides an ulterior motive. To assure succession of the title, her aunt intends Kate to marry her cousin Torquil, until his increasingly bizarre behavior culminates in violence and tragedy. And, when Kate begins to suspect the shocking reason for Minerva's generousity, she has no-one to confide.
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Average: (3.44)
1 5
1.5 1
2 26
2.5 13
3 90
3.5 36
4 83
4.5 3
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