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Smart Women and Abominable Men

July 12, 2010

Thanks to the library’s timing, I wound up on a bit of a Georgette Heyer binge, reading The Black Sheep and Frederica almost back to back.

I liked both for the same reasons. Banter! I love banter. I love witty ripostes, huffs and frustrations, smothered laughter, twinkling eyes. Eye rolling? I am not sure eye rolling happened in the Regency England Heyer’s writing about.

Cut for spoilers… if there is such thing as a spoiler for a Regency Romance.

It takes two smart people to have that kind of flirtation, smart and mostly confident, self-assured people. So for Regency women, that means that maybe they’re a little older. Maybe they’re thinking, their late 20s, that they’re past their own marriage potential. (Reading about 28 as past one’s prime while being… older than that… is unnerving, can I just say?) So they’re concentrating on finding good matches for younger debutantes. Who are, by comparison, flighty and silly. (If beautiful.)

Enter the bachelor, also older. Maybe worldly, definitely a little caustic in his humor. Maybe a little reprehensible in a few love-em and leave-em assignations in the past, before he turns his quizzing glass to gaze upon the self-assured older woman.

And, as both are secure in themselves, and set in their opinions and assumptions- they get into some excellent arguments. “How dare you!” “Oh, you are abominable!” “Incorrigible.” Because, to prove her worth, a woman of the time, had to shut the rake down. Which, proved her virtue, and also gave the bad boy a chance to reform. Added bonus: more banter.

Subsequently, I tried to read Cotillion, and gave up a few chapters in. Flighty young debutante, and no banter I could see. It must be a demographic thing.

So I’m thinking– score one for the smart girls!

I was similarly delighted with the funny bits that happened around the bantering couple, especially in Frederica. Frederica travels with a brood of younger siblings. These are well-written children, funny, not weirdly precocious. There is also a gigantic dog. Hijinks! Shenanigans! And banter!

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