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The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer
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The Reluctant Widow (original 1946; edition 2008)

by Georgette Heyer, Cornelius Garrett (Narrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,179466,832 (3.85)1 / 115
Member:CDVicarage
Title:The Reluctant Widow
Authors:Georgette Heyer
Other authors:Cornelius Garrett (Narrator)
Info:Chivers Audio Books (2008), Mp3
Collections:Your library, Kerry's, Audiobooks, 2016 Reading, 2015 Reading, 2012 Reading
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction, Audio, Regency, R2012, R2015, R2016

Work details

The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer (1946)

  1. 20
    The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer (konallis)
    konallis: Both novels combine romance and social comedy with most nefarious goings-on; _The Talisman Ring_ is the more comedy-oriented and farcical of the two.
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Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
Enjoyed this book. The heroine is someone I can relate to, and I loved Nicky! ( )
  AlisonClifford | Apr 25, 2016 |
I quite liked the mix of mystery and humour in this historical tale but didn’t find it especially gripping. Perhaps, like most mysteries, the plot involves too much telling as opposed to showing.

The characters were good, though none stood out as being particularly memorable. Miss Beccles and Barrow the groom were the two that amused me the most.

In short, I liked this in parts, rather than on the whole. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Mar 15, 2016 |
Impoverished governess Elinor accidentally boards not the carriage sent by her employer, but one that takes her to an isolated mansion. There, a high-handed but handsome man named Lord Carlyon requests her help: to assure that scandal does not attach to his family, he needs a woman to marry his dying cousin and receive his estate. Elinor agrees, and by the next morning finds that she is a widow and the sole owner of a dilapidated house and her late husband's debts. Lord Carlyon assures her that the debts will be taken care of, but he needs her to remain in possession of the house, because somewhere within its walls lies a document that could destroy all of England's hopes against Napoleon. Shaken, Elinor agrees to do so and faces a steady stream of male visitors, each of whom could be a French spy.

This is a strange book from Heyer; she tries to incorporate a thrilling spy plot into her romance, but it is utterly unconvincing. Her usual character types are all here, but are off-kilter and passive. The sensible heroine with no hopes or expectation of marriage is here, and her retorts to the hero are as delightfully sarcastic as ever, but she does nothing to influence the plot. Time and time again Elinor wants something down (to lock up a secret door, or summon help, or kick out a suspected spy) and every time a man refuses to help and she just...gives up. No further attempts, no argument, just gives up every time. At the very end of the novel she finally refuses to take no for an answer and rides for help herself, only to find that the problem has already been taken care of and her heroic ride was for nothing. The hero who strikes all characters with awe (so handsome! such perfect horsemanship! so well dressed! so perceptive! etc) is here, but he strides on page for just a moment every few chapters, then vanishes again. Carylon hardly interacts with Elinor at all, and his marriage proposal at the end of the novel (no spoilers needed; this is a Heyer Regency Romance after all) comes out of nowhere. The scatter-brained young relatives are here, but Lady Flint only gets a few pages and Nick comes across as deeply disturbed rather than amusing. He bursts onto a tete-a-tete between Carlyon and Elinor in the first chapter with a "blinding" smile of relief and "'I'm excessively sorry, but I have killed Eustace Cheviot!" Upon being asked for explanation for how he came to kill his cousin, he commences on a FOUR PAGE babbling session concerning dancing bears, eating ham with friends, his stage-coach journey, and finally how annoying he finds another brother's "sermons" about good behavior. Finally he mentions that while drinking, Eustace fell upon the knife he was holding and says "And it is not that I am sorry he's dead, because I'm not, but I never thought it would have been so horrid!...I can tell you, Ned, it almost makes me wish I had not been rusticated at all!" After this appalling statement, it still takes him several more pages to finally mention that Eustace is not actually dead yet. Holy crap! Nick is either so stupid that I'm surprised he can breathe on his own, or basically a sociopath. The only character I could bear to read about was Bouncer, Nick's energetic bulldog. Heyer describes him with verve and fun, and so the insipidity is broken by passages like this:He pranced ahead of her down the long stone-paved corridor that led to the kitchens. Nothing could have exceeded his affability there, but only Elinor's persuasion induced Mrs. Barrow to bestow a plate of scraps on him. She said that he had already had a shoulder of mutton designed for Elinor's own dinner. But the sagacious hound listened to Elinor's reproaches with an expression compounded by innocence and such gnawing hunger that she found it hard to believe such a thing of him, and insisted that he should be bed. There was nothing in the manner in which he disposed of his portion to lend the least colour to the allegation made against his character.

Then Francis Cheviot arrives, and accidentally takes over the whole novel. He's introduced like this: Barking like a fiend, [Bouncer] launched himself upon the intruder.
The exquisite gentleman whirled about at the first bark, and as Bouncer came at full-tilt across the ill-kept lawn, his ungloved right hand grasped the ivory top of his cane, deftly twisted it, and drew a thin, wicked blade hissing from the ebony stick that formed its sheath. Upon checking the dog's attack, he then embarks upon a running commentary of such foppish flippancy that Sir Percy Blakeney himself would be impressed. He is beautifully, captivatingly in control of every situation thence. The entire second-to-last chapter is basically his monologue, in which he tells Carlyon how he single-handedly discovered and destroyed the French spy network. Francis feels like he slithered in from some other, more exciting novel. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
This is one of Georgette Heyer's earlier historical novels, first published in 1946 but - as with most of her books - still in print. It's the story of Elinor, an impoverished young lady who (at the opening of the book) is on her way to take up an appointment as governess. She is not looking forward to her job, but in previous centuries there were few other options open to an upper-class unmarried woman.

However, after being collected from the coach stop, she finds herself increasingly puzzled... and rather shocked when she is asked to do something entirely different from what she was expecting.

All in all this is a great read, with brilliant dialogue, as ever in Heyer's work. The plot is rather unlikely, yet somehow it seems all too believable while reading. There's some suspense, some humour, and a very low-key romance. Even reading for the fifth or sixth time, I had not remembered exactly who the villains of the piece were, and very much enjoyed the climax to the book .

This is not quite my favourite Heyer novel, but it would make a good introduction to this author. It would also probably appeal to those who like a fair amount of action rather than the character-driven society novels with more focus on the romance that Heyer tended to write in later years.

Recommended. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
An especially good Heyer, though absurd as always. Includes a fun mystery. ( )
  rvhatha | Nov 3, 2015 |
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Georgette Heyerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garrett, CorneliusNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was dark when the London to Littlehampton stagecoach lurched into the village of Billingshurst, and a cold mist was beginning to creep knee-high over the dimly seen countryside.
Quotations
“…Only consider, cousin! A man who must needs come creeping into a house by a secret stair can be up to no good!”

“Very true. There is a want of openness about such behaviour that strikes one forcibly, and makes me at least disinclined to pursue the acquaintance.”
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Book description
"You are asking me to sell myself, to marry a dying man for the advantages it may bring me..."

Elinor Rochdale was married at midnight and a widow at dawn. Overnight she became heiress to a house of secrets and partner in a dangerous conspiracy to save a family name...

She took on the autocratic Lord Carlyon, his rash young brother Nicholas, and the sinister Francis Cheviot, to foil a dastardly plot by the agents of Bonaparte himself...
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061001554, Paperback)

Georgette Heyer is best known for her witty and charming Regency romances, but she is also responsible for a handful of mystery novels. On occasion, mystery would find its way into her romances, embroiling her well-born heroes and heroines in adventures that were alternately chilling and hilarious. In The Reluctant Widow, Eleanor Rochdale, a young woman of good birth but straitened circumstances, sets out to accept a position as a governess and ends up plunged into a tangle of foreign intrigue instead.

Eleanor's adventure begins when she inadvertently mistakes the carriage waiting at the coach stop for one sent by her prospective employer, Mrs. Macclesfield. She finds herself carried to the estate of one Ned Carlyon, whom Eleanor mistakes for Mr. Macclesfield. Carlyon, meanwhile, believes Eleanor to be the young woman he hired to marry his dying cousin, Eustace Cheviot, in order to avoid inheriting Cheviot's estate himself. Somehow, Eleanor is talked into marrying Eustace on his deathbed and thus becomes a wealthy widow almost as soon as the ring is on her finger. What starts out as a simple business arrangement soon becomes much more complicated as housebreakers, uninvited guests, a shocking murder, missing government papers, and a dog named Bouncer all contribute to this lively, frequently hilarious tale of mistaken identities, foreign espionage, and unexpected love set during the Napoleonic Wars.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:21 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"When Elinor Rochdale boards the wrong coach, she ends up not at her prospective employer's home but at the estate of Eustace Cheviot, a dissipated and ruined young man on the verge of death. His cousin, Mr Ned Carlyon, persuades Elinor to marry Eustace as a simple business arrangement. By morning, Elinor is a rich widow, but finds herself embroiled with an international spy ring, housebreakers, uninvited guests, and murder. And Mr Carlyon won't let her leave ..."--Publisher's website.… (more)

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