The Quiet Gentleman – Georgette Heyer

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Gervase Frant, sixth Earl of St Erth, returns to Stanyon, his family home in Lincolnshire, a year after the death of his father & after several years as a soldier on the Continent. The unregarded son of his father’s first, unhappy, marriage, his return is disconcerting for his stepmother, the Dowager Countess, & especially for her son, Martin. Martin has been the spoiled darling of both his parents, treated almost as the heir, & the reappearance of his half-brother is a source of jealousy. The estate has been stewarded by a cousin, Theo Frant, a steady hand who has kept in touch with Gervase. Miss Drusilla Morville, the daughter of a local gentry family, is visiting Stanyon as the guest of the Dowager while her parents are on their travels.

Gervase’s quiet good manners soon recommend him to the Dowager & the rest of the household. All except Martin, whose resentment is plain. When Gervase rescues the beautiful young heiress, Marianne Bolderwood, after she is thrown from her horse, Martin’s jealousy is aroused. Marianne’s easy, flirtatious manners have led Martin to believe that she returns his love although she is too innocent to realise it. When Gervase’s friend Lord Ulverston arrives, the attraction between him & Marianne is obvious to everyone but Martin. He tries to force his attentions on Marianne at a ball at Stanyon by proposing to her & then tries to force Ulverston to fight a duel.

More seriously, Gervase is the victim of several “accidents” which could be something more sinister. Martin forgets to warn his brother of a rickety bridge & a rope pulled deliberately across the road trips his horse. When Gervase is shot while out driving, & Martin disappears, everything seems to be pointing in the direction of a jealous young man with murderous intent. But is this really the answer? Gervase is determined to avoid scandal but can he believe that Martin was not involved?

I love Georgette Heyer. Of course, there’s also romance as well as intrigue in this sparkling story. Drusilla Morville is a quiet, elegant young woman from an intellectual family who has an easy, companionable friendship with the whole family. She’s on the spot when Gervase is thrown from his horse & takes on the burden of nursing him after he’s shot. Her impeccable manners & competence impress Gervase but Drusilla will not allow herself to think of anything but friendship with a rich nobleman, her parents’ landlord to boot, who will surely marry an heiress. Gervase’s initial impression of Drusilla on his first evening at home,

” And who, pray, is that little squab of a female? Was she invited for my entertainment?Don’t tell me she is an heiress! I could not – no, I really could not be expected to pay my addresses to anyone with so little countenance or conversation!”

‘Drusilla! No, no, nothing of that sort!” smiled Theo. “I fancy my aunt thinks she would make a very suitable wife for me!”

“My poor Theo!”

soon changes as they become acquainted & he realises that she has plenty of humour & conversation as well as quiet good sense. She even discusses Mary Wollstonecraft’s life & work with Gervase quite matter of factly which I loved. Drusilla is one of Heyer’s older heroines & much more interesting to me than flighty Marianne Bolderwood with her beauty & her train of suitors. I also adored the Dowager Countess with her Lady Catherine-like pronouncements & her complete self-absorption. The mystery of the attacks on Gervase is absorbing, I loved the descriptions of the estate, the house & the countryside & altogether, this is now one of my favourite Heyer novels. My enjoyment was enhanced by listening to the audio book read by Cornelius Garrett, one of my favourite narrators. I like to listen to an audio book for 15 mins or so before I go to sleep but some nights I was desperately trying to stay awake for just a few minutes more to find out what would happen. I’ve listened to several Heyers on audio & enjoyed them all. I still have Frederica, read by Clifford Norgate in my Audible library but the next one I want to read is Venetia as I want to listen to the Backlisted podcast which you can listen to here or wherever you get your podcasts.

It was a real treat to read The Quiet Gentleman for the 1951 Club. Thanks Simon & Karen for the opportunity to read a book that had been in the tbl (to be listened) list for too long.

 

21 thoughts on “The Quiet Gentleman – Georgette Heyer

  1. im fond of GH also. her mysteries are excellent.. i’ve read some of the others, too: not all of them are equal in quality but most of them are a lot better than anyone else, although there’s really no one to compare her to, as she is incomparable in her knowledge and use of 19th c. english societal mores…

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  2. I liked this one too. It reminds me of Sprig Muslin a bit in which there is a slightly older, less flighty female who is the obvious better choice for the love interest. I remember The Quiet Gentleman also had a pretty good plot twist at the end.

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  3. This is one of my favourite Heyer novels too. I loved the element of mystery, the descriptions of the setting and the slow, subtle romance. I decided to read Heyer’s other 1951 novel, Duplicate Death, for the club this week!

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    • I also enjoyed the mystery in this one. I read & enjoyed Heyer’s mysteries when I was a teenager & would like to reread them. I read Envious Casca last year & enjoyed it, must get back to the others.

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    • There are lots of the older recordings available on Audible with narrators like Cornelius Garrett, Clare Higgins, Sian Phillips. The mysteries have been done more recently but I don’t like the narrator. My library has them all in our eLibrary so I wish I did like her voice but I don’t!

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  4. A great review – and I agree, there’s nothing to beat a Georgette Heyer for sheer comfort and perfect enjoyment. Cornelius Garrett also brings out the humour brilliantly when he reads The Reluctant Widow – Elinor Rochdale is another of my favourite Georgette Heyer heroines. I have most of the audiobooks and I prefer it when they are read by men. Perhaps because this seems to lift the novels above ‘women’s romantic fiction’ when they are so much more than this?

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  5. Pingback: A #1951Club wrap-up (and where next?) – Stuck in a Book

    • I have no idea, Simon! Do you have any tbr? I know the doves have discussed GH, that’s how I got started. Don’t be put off by thinking she’s sub-Austen, she’s really quite different. I think that’s why I was snobbish about Heyer when I was younger.

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  6. Great review! I first read this from my junior high school library and at the time it was not one of my favorite Heyers because Gervase was not as dashing as some of her other heroes and Drusilla seemed quite ordinary. As I got older, it became a favorite although not in my top five.

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