I adore many Heyer novels, but this one just fell flat. The character of Amanda was "outside of enough" as the Regency folks were fond of saying. I found her very annoying and too much of the story was built on her. Sir Gareth was a bland hero. Hester was more interesting to me, but unfortunately played quite minor role. I think she had a potential depth that was worth more attention. The narrator did an excellent job.
I have never wanted to turn a character over my knee and spank her more in my life. Amanda takes the spoiled, annoying, frustrating cake, but as Shakespeare says, all's well that ends well. I love Georgette Heyer and this story was fun if not a bit maddening. I'm still wishing for an unabridged version of The Grand Sophy.
My first audio book was a Heyer novel read by the fabulous Richard Armitage, but it was an abridged version. Sprig Muslin is unabridged and gives Heyer's beautiful writing chance to shine through the lovely performance of Sian Phillips. I highly recommend this audio book if you are a devout Heyer fan, but if you are new to Heyer and her style then any of the abridged versions would make for an easier introduction.
I kept waiting for the more mature characters to take center stage but the story revolved around this spoiled, stubborn, selfish, whining girl. It's not unusual for Georgette Heyer to have such a character in some form or another but usually they have some redeeming characteristic, like wit, or they are a minor character and a foil to the more likable characters. This story revolved around her and (obviously) I never liked the character and it spoiled the whole story for me. I will never listen to this one again.
Sian has a lovely voice and it was the only thing that got me to the end of the story.
Georgette Heyer had a very successful career writing historical romance set in the Regency period. Her work is characterized by dry humor and a restrained attitude toward the physical aspects of romance. These books emphasize the social and emotional relationships of the characters rather than purely physical. They also require some historical knowledge and the ability to understand Regency slang from context. The books are funny and intricately plotted with a happy close.
Sir Gareth Ludlow is about to propose to his friend, Lady Hester, because he needs to marry to continue his family line. On his way to propose he meets a young woman in trouble. Attempting to resolve her problems takes the efforts of Sir Gareth and Lady Hester, who come to a closer understanding as a result. The story is light-hearted and has a number of different plot lines, all of which are resolved satisfactorily in the end.
Sian Phillips is a competent narrator with a dry delivery that is an excellent match for Heyer's work. While her voice is a little hoarse to be completely convincing as the very young Amanda, on the whole her characterizations are excellent. Ms Phillips also read Bath Tangle, by Heyer, but her work on that recording is slightly below the high standards she met for Sprig Muslin. On the whole I can recommend this recording as the book is amusing and the narrator adds to the experience.
The fact that the Hero and Heroine are a different sort....and that the story takes you on a journey....
I really enjoyed this book. The narration by Sian Phillips has alot to do with that. Every character is individual and there isn't a false note in the entire story. She makes the characters likeable and adds warmth and depth to them. The book is quite a bit of fun and the understated love story, although it takes a bit of a back seat to other going ons, is nonetheless deeply satisfying.
This was the second Georgette Heyer novel that I've listened to (VENETIA being the first), and I'm very glad that I did so. As with VENETIA, it took me a little while to get into the book and sort out who each of the characters were and their roles in the story (such as who was just a transitory, very minor character and who was not), but as it went along, I really enjoyed the wit and charm exhibited by the main characters. I must admit that I found Amanda's spoiled, headstrong qualities to be quite annoying at times, but the manner in which Sir Gareth seemed to see through all of her "make-believe" and sometimes use it to his advantage when she'd verbally painted herself in to a corner was humorous.
My only quibble is that I wish that Lady Hester was in more of the book, though I guess that it could have been worse (regarding the amount of time in which she's not present in the narrative). I liked her as a character, even though she wasn't the typical feisty heroine that one often sees in romance novels. Her kindness was a wonderful counterpoint to Amanda's scheming, and as long as the former was there, the latter didn't irritate me so much. Once Lady Hester was back in the thick of things (where the main plot-line was concerned), I really enjoyed this book the most. My impatience with Amanda notwithstanding, I do acknowledge that she is a very memorable and engaging character, overall. I also really liked Sir Gareth as a character, particularly his dry humor and also his steadfast determination to doing the right thing, despite all obstacles put in his way.
Sian Phillips did a fantastic job at capturing each of the characters and giving them distinctive voices. The story flew by so much faster than it might have otherwise because of her spirited performance. I will definitely seek out more audiobooks read by her, especially any Georgette Heyer novels.
poor plot, dialogue, character development, etc...
Don't waste your credit on this one if you are an Austen fan.