Venetia Lanyon, beautiful, intelligent and independent, lives in comfortable seclusion in rural Yorkshire with her precocious brother Aubrey. Her future seems safe and predictable: Either marriage to the respectable but dull Edward Yardley, or a life of peaceful spinsterhood. But when she meets the dashing, dangerous rake Lord Damerel, her well-ordered life is turned upside down, and she embarks upon a relationship with him that scandalizes and horrifies the whole community. Has she found her soul mate, or is she playing with fire?
©1958 Georgette Heyer (P)2014 Naxos AudioBooks
Genre fiction, trashy to literary--mystery, action, sci fi, fantasy, and, yes, even romance. Also history. Listener reviews help a lot!
Hard on the heels of Naxos releasing "The Grand Sophy" and "Sylvester," two of Georgette Heyer's greatest, comes the equally wonderful "Venetia." All three books were written at the peak of Heyer's career. "Venetia" has a bit more melodrama than "Sophy" or "Sylvester," partly because of the reformed rake with a painful past that is the the hero, Lord Damerel.
All her life Venetia has heard oblique references to her "delicate position," along with veiled warnings that she must be especially protective of her reputation, "so as not to be thought to be...." At which point her well wishers generally trail off and say something like "....but I must say no more on that head," leaving Venetia puzzled, to say the least. The arrival of the charming but brooding Damerel increases these warnings to a fever pitch, for reasons that the reader will probably guess before Venetia solves the mystery.
During her lifetime Georgette Heyer was said to resent the fact that her Regency romances were so much more popular than her mysteries or her historical fiction. I agree her mysteries are underrated (particularly "Envious Casca," which I think is a minor masterpiece that Masterpiece Mystery should dramatize immediately), but, whether she agreed with the assessment or not, her Regencies are in a class by themselves. The best of them -- including Venetia -- stand head and shoulders above the pack. Enjoy!
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
I gave up calling Georgette Heyer a "guilty" pleasure a long time ago. A literature major, I was taught that certain genres of writing are just inherently inferior - and one of them, of course, is Romance. Now I know that good writing is good writing, whatever the genre, and writing doesn't get any better than in "Venetia"!
The story is a fairly common one in historical romance: "good" girl heroine attracted to "bad" boy hero. But Heyer does it so well here. The characters (major and minor) sparkle with humor, wit and personality. There are even valuable lessons in tolerance and reserving judgment.
Venetia is an exceptional leading lady, full of life and heart, and I predict that anyone (even those who aren't big Romance fans) will fall in love with her, with her flawed love, with her brother, and even with those minor characters who so perfectly reflect the oddities in our fellow humans.
And no small credit goes to the wonderful Phyllida Nash, who narrates this with great energy and skill. "Venetia" has long been a favorite read; now it's also a favorite listen! Along with Audible's versions of "Sylvester" and "Sprig Muslin", this will certainly appeal to Heyer fans and would be an excellent introduction to her really superior books.
Georgette Heyer is considered the inventor of the Regency Romance, and although she wrote a wide variety of different types of novels, her comedies of manners set during the Regency period in England are among her best and the best in the field. This book has long been at or near the top of my list, the hero and heroine are both well read and intelligent and share a sense of humor, and I find their dialog to be a delight to read. And this book has more "face time" between the hero and heroine than many Heyer novels. Be prepared, Heyer wrote between 1921 and the early 1970's, and some of her assumptions seem strange to modern readers. But no modern author has been able to match her wit and insight. This book was first published in 1958 and written when she was in her prime.
Phyllida Nash does a good job of giving the listener the proper feel for the story. Well worth my credit to get at once. I am very glad that Naxos is releasing more unabridged Heyer stories. Their earlier abridged versions were not bad, but to get the most from Heyer one needs all the words, and I personally will never purchase an abridged title.
If you haven't tried Georgette Heyer, Venetia is a great place to start. Charming, humorous, fun heroine and hero, witty dialogue. Heyer simply writes a good story. And it's squeeky clean, safe for grandmother's ears.
I was somewhat hesitant to try this narration in that I simply adored the version by Richard Armitage and feared I would be disappointed with another narrator, but I was most delightfully pleased by Ms. Nash's performance. I will certainly seek more books performed by her.
I enjoy Venetia Lanyon as one of Heyer's more unusual heroines. I can overlook the dated implication that she somehow inherited her relatively "loose morals" from her mother (and if you can't overlook dated ideas, you probably shouldn't bother with Georgette Heyer's novels), and just enjoy the character. She's more implicitly sexual than many of Heyer's leading ladies, and it really is fun to follow the progress of a young woman who doesn't care about the social restraints of the Regency era AND who isn't schooled into submission for it.
All that said, it's not my favorite Heyer novel. The characters, with a couple of exceptions, don't leap to life the way her best ones do, and there are long stretches between plot points. It's an enjoyable listen, and of course Phyllida Nash does a wonderful job here as in all her Heyer readings, but unlike greater favorites (Cotillion, Frederica, Lady of Quality, The Grand Sophy...), this one isn't bearing up to multiple listenings.
Before stumbling upon my first Georgette Heyer novel a few years ago, I was not into romance stories. But I found "Frederica" to be be a great story with well-defined intelligent characters. I then listened to every book available in audio format - at that time about 25 titles. The beauty of Heyer's books is that it matters not who narrates them as long as he or she is reasonably competent. Because each novel stands on its own, the listener doesn't become overly comfortable with one narrator, causing a disruption if there is a change. It had been a while since a new audiobook had been released so I was pleased to be able to enjoy this one. Lead character Venetia is the usual strong female who can live unmarried but doesn't mind when "Lord Right" comes along. Queen Elizabeth I could have learned a thing or two here - the whole "Virgin Queen" thing was a bit much! Heyer's books are very relevant for our time even though written long before feminism, birth control, and couples being sexually nasty for no reason. I'm no prude but it is nice to read a book where love is supreme, respect is obvious, and sex is hinted at without being graphic.
Reviewer for Delighted Reader Blog
I wouldn't say that it is superior per se, but that it is another fantastic way to enjoy the story. It worked very well as a story told aloud.
I was riveted during the scene in the library when it looked like Dameril would speak to her of his love, but Aubrey interrupted.
Just one??? Alright, one of my favorites was when Edward Yardley visited Venetia and Aubrey while at Dameril's home.
If I could, then yes, I probably would have just kept listening. But it is also one that is versatile in that it works well for shorter periods of time without losing the train of thought.
The narrator wowed me with her ability to tell a story, her grasp of pacing, emotions, and switches for the characters.
It is beautifully narrated by Phyllida Nash and it was great to be able to listen to it while driving.
It is one of my favorite Georgette Heyer books; very witty!
"Another great read!"
I was so happy to see another Georgette Heyer book narrated by Phyllida Nash, thank you so much! The story is one of my favorites, too, and Phyllida Nash gives it full scope with her wonderful reading. I am eagerly waiting for the next one as I am re-listening this one again and again :).
"A delight - a dear delight in fact"
Anyone who's read the book will know that, far than the slightly Barbara Cartland sounding publisher's 'summary' suggests, it's a wonderful comedy of manners with some strong characters and a great deal of humour.
There is the usual strong cast of supporting characters, all distinct. I think I love the cameo of Sir Lambert Steeple as much as Sir Bonamy Ripple in False Colours, and they such have a lot in common. Edward Yardley, Venetia's 'worthy' suitor, is someone we'd never want to be stuck in a lift with. Aubrey, Venetia's younger brother, is genius in more ways than one, and as for Mrs Scorrier... she makes every mother in law in history look like sweetness and light.
I left this till late in my journey through Heyer on Audible as a treat, and wasn't disappointed. Phyllida Nash nails them all, she doesn't just read it, she brings them all to life. Brilliantly - even the men's voices are spot on. Her best since The Talisman Ring as far as I'm concerned. If you've not listened to this one yet, put your feet up and prepare to enjoy yourself.
The narrator, Phyllida Nash, does a tremendous job here, pretty much a perfect piece of narration. The heroine often has a laugh in her voice, which is enchanting, and the pompous Edward is wonderfully irritating.
"Finally available in unabridged format"
Yes, I would. Phyllida Nash is a joy to listen to, and Venetia is an old favourite of mine. I am near to completing my Heyer library
Phyllida Nash can make her voice so very different when describing each character that I have no particular favourite, They are all beautifully described.
The supreme female readers of Georgette Heyer's novels are Sian Phillips and Phyllida Nash, I have never been disappointed in their interpretation. Sarah Woodward also made a splendid job of The Grandy Sophy. What about publishing some of Heyer's detective stories too?
It's one of my favourite books
This book is funny and full of energy and surprises
No, but I liked the way she reads her voice is very clear and pleasure to lessen too
"One of her best books!"
One of my favourite GH books, as there is so much sparkling dialogue between hero & heroine. It is also one of her less improbable story lines - the plot is on the whole believable! These things could have happened in that era, but I liked the fact that hero & heroine were resisting the established norms! The reading is excellent - I particularly liked her portrayal of Damerel.
Lovely listenable nonsense. Great narration, well drawn characters, most diverting. Very worth a download if you are looking for escapism.
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