When Sylvester, the Duke of Salford, first meets Phoebe Marlow, he finds her dull and insipid. She finds him insufferably arrogant. But when a series of unforeseen events leads them to be stranded together in a lonely country inn, they are both forced to reassess their hastily formed opinions, and begin a new-found liking and respect for each other.
Sylvester calls to mind the satirical genius of a Jane Austen novel and is adored for its wit and a fast-paced plot, which ranges across a myriad of settings.
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"Although this is an abridged version of Heyer's work, British actor Richard Armitage makes this exceptionally fun to listen to....Armitage's reading is warm, lively, simply brilliant. He easily voices all characters and regional and class differences with ease and captures the underlying tension and growing romantic interest between Phoebe and Sylvester. The period classical music between chapters adds wonderful, appropriate atmosphere." (Soundcommentary.com)
I don't normally go for Romance, but I do have a soft spot for Georgette Heyer. I have quite admired Richard Armitage ever since the BBC Robin Hood version. The Armitage-Heyer combination was just too compelling to resist. The narration is fabulously done and it's a terribly cute story.
My only complaint is that the novel is abridged. I'll make no grand claims about the literary merits of the Romance novel genre, but Heyer is one of the few authors in the genre who seem to possess a literary subtlety. That subtlety is entirely lost through the abridgement and all that remains is a cutesy story read by a lovely narrator. I can't help thinking that Heyer deserves better.
When you take out any of Georgette Heyer's words you turn an incredible historical adventure full of nuance, British dry wit, and solid research, into just another love story. She is a past master at her craft. Don't mess with it.
All the parts that were left out.
NONE!!! Put everything back the way it was.
Please don't abridge anything by Georgette Heyer or Laura Hillenbrand.
Probably - it was a fun story and Richard Armitage did a great job narrating it.
A very fun listen--Richard Armitage is amazing and I love the story. I always feel guilty about reading/listening to abridged books, but it was kind of nice in this instance. Someday I will read the whole thing, but this was great.
Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.
Richard Armitage is very good, well according to my girlfriend who I got this one to listen to. Her only criticism is the abridgement. Characters where deleted, story line reduced, the usual. Personally I recommend never to get an abridged version of any of the books, you'll only be disappointed. As for Richard Armitage please stop narrating, I am going to lose my girlfriend to your voice, or could you develop a talking book on 'Speaking Like Richard Armitage', no that won't do, just stop talking, you have a silver tongue that beguiles my girlfriend, I can't compete.
Abridgements are never my first choice because so much of what makes Hayer such fun are the details, the side plots, the back stories, and the secondary characters -- all of which are trimmed or omitted entirely when chopped down. However, the story still has some charm to it, even if, with all the cuts, certain things don't quite make sense. The narration is competent, too.
Still, if an unabridged audio version is made available, I'll go for it.
I try to avoid abridged books. But I was in the mood for a good narrator, and chose this book solely because it was done by Richard Armitage. I loved how seductive he was in the book Venetia. Unfortunately Sylvester did not have any sensual or seductive scenes, but I still enjoyed the narration.
As to the story, I was surprised, delighted, and smiled many times. It reminded me sadly of how not enough of todays’ authors can do what Heyer does. She draws and shows her characters so full and interesting.
To create conflict authors sometimes have characters do things that go against a character’s normal motivation. That’s tricky. If not well done it’s annoying. Heyer does it well. Here are examples of Heyer doing unexpected things and justifying it.
When Sylvester first met Phoebe he was rude. He found Phoebe plain looking and dull. The dullness was because she was accompanied by her difficult stepmother. Phoebe’s unbecoming clothes were also due to the stepmother. Months later Phoebe’s stepmother told her that Sylvester was coming to their home to offer marriage for her. Phoebe’s reaction was to run off and stay elsewhere to avoid this. Sylvester had no intention of offering marriage. The stepmother was wrong. But when Sylvester heard that Phoebe ran off rather than be with him, he decided he wanted vengeance because his self esteem was injured. So he decides to make Phoebe desire him, and then he will reject her.
Later when Sylvester sees Phoebe so forlorn about something yet trying to put on a brave smile, Sylvester did something nice for her. He did it “on impulse” which didn’t fit his vengeance motivation of the moment. But I bought it because he was reacting to the emotion on her face - like seeing a hurt puppy.
Sylvester knew that Phoebe’s grandmother would not welcome Phoebe. When Phoebe asked Sylvester if the grandmother would welcome her, he said yes. Sylvester was being ornery to both Phoebe and the grandmother. He enjoyed the idea of annoying the grandmother. Actually it was a surprise later when the grandmother welcomed Phoebe, because the grandmother had been bored recently.
So you have orneriness and surprising interactions. It was fun rather than slapstickish.
Why not 5 stars?
I wanted more romance at the end - more showing how their feelings developed. But I never get enough of that from Heyer. Also, this was abridged. It’s maybe a third the length of a regular novel.
Genre: historical romance
Absolutely! Georgette Heyer tells a fantastic story with thoroughly entertaining characters and an engaging plot. Richard Armitage's narration brings the characters to life, providing easily discernible voices and infusing the dialogue with the humor characteristic of vintage Regency romances. This is an altogether delightful listening experience.
I think Sylvester can be loosely compared to Pride and Prejudice in a few respects. The hero and heroine each form unflattering initial opinions of one another and the misunderstanding continues until the last few pages of the book. Sylvester is similar to Mr. Darcy in that he takes it upon himself to help Phoebe out of the a number of difficult circumstances. Both books also have a few very memorable supporting characters (Mr. Collins, Miss Bingley, Tom Ord, Ianthe) who provide comic relief as well as foils for their respective counterparts.
I think my favorite scene is when Phoebe meets Sylvester's mother and discovers more about his character and true feelings for her.
I loved who the narrator was. It was a little funny to hear him speak out the female character voices, but a definite pleasure to hear his warm voice giving life to one of Ms. Heyer's favorite heroes.
The fact that it gives your heart a tug when I listen to the story instead of reading it.
Sylvester and his mother. Simply cheeky and adorable.
Have to admit that I bought this because Richard Armitage is the narrator. He does a masterful performance of the rolls in this novel. He does women's voices so well that one forgets all of the voices are being performed by one person. The novel is fine also and I have purchased other Heyer books as I like the genre. This one and the other that RA did will always be my favorites. I wish he would do more audio.
OK, I admit it. I bought this audiobook solely because it is narrated by Richard Armitage. I just had to find out if he was a good narrator. And he was very good. Not as great as Colin Firth who hit everything spot on (and who is my favorite actor narrator) but Armitage was pretty darn close. My only complaint with Armitage was that all the older ladies sounded like they were on their deathbeds and I could never tell if they were about to die or not.
As for the story itself, it was pretty good too. For years people have been telling me that I need to read Georgette Heyer but she's one of those writers that I just hadn't got around to yet. This story in particular is a regency romance but it is a lot like Pride & Prejudice. It had the same feel to it. The main girl disliked the guy because he was arrogant and the guy disliked the girl for the same reasons Mr. Darcy disliked Elizabeth Bennett. It was quick witted and hilarious. I will definitely be picking up more of her stories.
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