Miles from anywhere, Darracott Place is presided over by irascible Lord Darracott. The recent drowning of his eldest son has done nothing to improve his temper. For now he must send for the unknown offspring of the uncle whom the family are never permitted to mention. Yet none of that beleaguered family are prepared for the arrival of the weaver’s brat and heir apparent.
©1959 Georgette Heyer (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
This is the story of Lord Darracott bringing his heir to his estate so he can whip him into shape for his interitance. The Lord, nor any of his family, have ever met the heir because the Lord never thought the estate would go to him (there were two others ahead of him). In fact the Lord never told his family that the person even existed. The new heir was born to a son that the Lord had thrown out of the house and his life because of what the Lord thought was a very imprudent marriage.
The new heir comes to the estate to meet the family. As the family sizes him up, he is also taking their measure. I love the heir (his name is Hugh). I think Hugh is one of Heyer's best characters in all her novels. There are also some other truly great characters in Unknown Ajax. Hugh's cousins are all vivid characters with totally different personalities. Of course there is a romance involved (a very entertaining one) and I find this to be one of the most humourous of Heyer's novels. The scene at the end of the book (all the activity relating to "the shooting") is so funny I lauched until I cried. In fact, I found the book even funnier in the audible version (and this reader's performance) than it was when I read it. What a wonderful book. It is one of my favorite Audible purchases.
A lot of this book hinges on the voices and accents of key characters, and they're so well done here they enhance the story. This is my favorite Heyer narrator so far; wish he'd done more of them.
This is a good book that was well read by a reader who was easily able to distinguish between the different characters. The book was more amusing than I had remembered. Very enjoyable listening.
Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
I read mysteries and thrillers almost exclusively. However, every now and then, I need a change of pace -- something different to "clear the palate". A Georgette Heyer Regency romance is the perfect thing to direct my mind away from all the crime and violence I've been reading about. Heyer's books are light, lively and full of wit.
"The Unknown Ajax" is one of the best of Heyer's stories, with all the usual elements : aristocratic characters, a fortune or lost fortune, an unmarried daughter, a handsome young man, another plot bedsides the romantic one, Heyer's excellent writing, lively, witty dialog and always a happy ending.. But in addition to those things, in this case, cantankerous Lord Darracott is obliged to recognize as his heir a grandson by the Lord's second son, who becomes the heir upon the deaths of the oldest Darracott son, along with his son. I'm not sure how this results -- I suspect it has to do with the indecipherable rules of primogeniture or other laws of succession in England.
In any case, the new heir has never been met by any of the Darracotts, and only Lord D even knows of his existence. When Lord D's second son married the daughter of a "weaver," they became estranged and ceased all communication. When the new heir, Hugo, arrives at Darracott Place, he sees that the family are expecting him to be a bumpkin with little or no education or manners, and no intelligence to speak of. So he acts like the man they are expecting. From there on there follows much lively discussion, and a run-in with the customs men regarding a bit of smuggling. And of course all is well at the end.
I enjoyed this book enormously.
I have read and re-read Georgette Heyers for more years than I care to count. The Unknown Ajax has always been a favorite yet I derived new pleasure and more enjoyment from the fabulous voicing of the main character Hugo. Reading it myself, I was never able to do justice to the language or the subtle humour that comes out when someone reads it well and with the right sort of accent. What a pleasure!
This is one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to. The characters are believable and appealing, and the plot is highly entertaining. I haven't read many books by Georgette Heyer (only one other, years ago), but if this is indicative of her usual writing style, I'm impressed and anxious to try more. The dialogue and plot are so amusing, I laughed out loud more than once. I'm a little picky about books, but listened to this one completely cringe-free. As for the romance.....this is my idea of perfection. Subtle and irresistible! There was nothing contrived or predictable at all!
The performance by Daniel Philpott was astounding. I'll be searching out his other performances without delay. I am still a little awed by his talent. In fact, I can't be entirely sure that wasn't one of the reasons I'm so enthused about the book in general!
I don't usually take time to write reviews (I'm not proud of that), but I didn't want anyone to miss the opportunity to try this one out. It was just a thoroughly delightful experience from start to finish!
...but it finishes well! The hero is like those people you like, but are a little irritated with because of what appears to be simple-mindedness. But I should have known Georgette Heyer better than that! It has all the Usual Suspects, the highborn but slightly impoverished aristocrats, the beautiful daughter, the irrascible old patriarch, disappointed Second Son, and assorted dandies, caustic-tongued young men, and pink-cheeked innocents. Stir in some mysterious ghostly doings, and a nice bit of history, and this story is most palatable.
Upon re-reading this book, I had to revise my rating from 3 to 5 stars. This is a fabulous story of bluffs, hoaxes, schemes, and other hilarious acts of deception. Hugo, the "unknown Ajax", is a truly charming character, and the supporting cast is outstanding! This would make a wonderful play, and listening to it as an audiobook, with Hugo's broad Yorkshire accent, really heightened my enjoyment of the book.
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