Book Review: The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer

I'd forgotten how delightful a Georgette Heyer novel can be. Having read all her regency romances in my early teenage years, picking this one up again after so long had all the excitement of a first time read.

The Nonesuch is one of Heyer's later and less popular novels (my favourite will always be The Black Moth, her debut novel and my introduction to this author) but it is still full of the wit, charm and endearing characters one expects to find in her light-hearted romances.

Sir Waldo Hawkridge (The Nonesuch) travels to Yorkshire with his younger cousin, Lord Lindeth, to inspect the estate he has recently inherited. The arrival of these two eligible bachelors in the village of Oversett causes a stir among the local gentry: mothers of marriageable daughters vie with one another to entertain them and the young men wish to emulate Sir Waldo due to his
reputation as a sportsman.

Sir Waldo, being over thirty, believes he is past the age of falling in love. That is, until he meets Ancilla Trent, governess and companion to the spoilt, self-centred, seventeen year old heiress, Tiffany Wield.

Tiffany, feted for her beauty, believes no man can resist her charms, and while Sir Waldo is quite immune, it is Lord Lindeth who falls under her spell and joins the ranks of her admirers.

Initially, the young men are eager to gain Tiffany's favour, despite her  abominable treatment of them, but one by one her admirers fall away when she throws one tantrum too many and the lies she has told are revealed.

Apart from her appealing characters and entertaining plots, one of Georgette Heyer's trademarks is her witty dialogue and The Nonesuch has it in abundance, enhanced by lots of delightful Regency slang.

Unusually for a Heyer novel, the romance unfolds quietly in the background, while the behaviour of Miss Trent's charge, Tiffany, dominates the story from start to finish. Perhaps this is the reason The Nonesuch is not as popular with Heyer's fans as her other books, but I enjoyed it. Tiffany's tantrums were amusing and the romance between Ancilla and Sir Waldo does have its obligatory misunderstanding, but this too was amusing if not a little unbelievable given how sensible Ancilla was supposed to be.

I read this novel as part of the Reading Yorkshire 2016 Challenge and loved that it was set in a part of the county I am familiar with.

The fictional village of Oversett is " ... situated in the West Riding, rather closer to Leeds than to Harrogate, and not above twenty miles from York ...".

A shopping expedition to Leeds, a town in 1816, is the scene of one of Tiffany's tantrums.  The mention of the red brick buildings of Leeds brought back memories of childhood visits there. For me those red brick buildings will always be associated with Leeds.

The cause of another of Tiffany's tantrums, is a proposed visit to the Dripping Well or the Petrifying Well at Knaresborough, a popular tourist destination even today. Tiffany is thwarted in her plans to get there by the illness of one of the party. No matter what she proposes, her travelling companions are all in agreement that the outing should be abandoned. Poor Tiffany!

Have you read The Nonesuch? What did you think? Did you find Tiffany's tantrums amusing like I did, or tedious?

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