Horatia Winwood is the youngest and the least attractive of the three Winwood sisters. She also has a stammer. But when the enigmatic and eminently eligible Earl of Rule offers for her oldest sister’s hand – a match that makes financial and social sense, but would break her heart – it is Horatia who takes matters into her own impetuous hands. Can she save her family’s fortune? Or is she courting disaster? Witty, charming, elegant, and always delightful, Georgette Heyer – the undisputed queen of Regency Romance – brings the whole period to life with deft precision and glorious characters.
(P)2010 Naxos AudioBooks
This was my first Georgette Heyer, to which I was irresistibly drawn by the fact that it's an audiobook read by Richard (Thornton Guisborne Thorin) Armitage. Also: Georgette Heyer. All I've ever heard about her is how wonderful her books are, the epitome of their genre, not to be missed.
I feel let down.
It's a cute idea. Horatia ("Horry") (note to parents everywhere: don't name your child Horatia, or that's what will happen) Winwood sees her older sister Elizabeth being drawn inexorably into a terrible situation: she loves someone else, but the Earl of Rule has asked for her hand. Given the family's financial situation – including a brother who enjoys the drink and the gambling – there is no choice: Elizabeth must marry the rich lord and not her penniless soldier boy. So Horatia – though very young by current standards – takes matters into her own hands. She tromps off to present herself to Rule and – calmly, coolly, and collectedly – offer herself as a substitute. Purely a business arrangement, you understand, and neither of them expected to interfere with the other; he can even keep seeing his mistress. (!) When her mother and sisters find out they all nearly conniption from the horror and embarrassment, but when it turns out that Rule rather liked the audacity of it all things look much brighter.
The problem is that the concentration of the story drifts from there into other waters. If it had held its focus on Horry being unconventionally audacious and ahead of her time, convinced that whatever she was starting to feel for him the marriage was one of convenience purely, and so on, I might have had fun. But her unconventionality transmutes into a penchant for gambling and the high life just like her brother's, and it was a little nauseating. She was presented as being a smart girl, and yet she immediately forgets what it was like not to have very much and begins spending money like one to the manner born. Then the whole thing deteriorates into a rather unpleasant farce involving an extremely unwise flirtation with another man leading to results so nearly tragic I was a little stunned; I had expected something light and clever, not this adventure, involving at least two episodes of faux-highway-robbery, near-ravishment, a missing brooch, disuises, and Horry's brother and his Wodehouse-esque goofy sidekick.
Armitage did a fine job of reading it – as well, that is, as any man could be expected to do with a book featuring a passel of women in the primary roles, one of whom has – wait for it – a stutter.
I have to ask – whoever chose this among all of Heyer's novels – what were they smoking? An audiobook of a novel whose main character stutters? It was painful to listen to – I can only imagine it was painful to narrate. I hope they paid Armitage well.
I understand that this is one of Georgette Heyer's early books, and not among the best; also, I just belatedly noticed that the audiobook was (horrors!) abridged. So this won't put me off the author's body of work.
Almost. But not quite.
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I read this book a long time ago and love it. It was even better listening to Richard Armitage read it to me. He would make anything sound fantastic. This book is very old fashioned and sweet.
He does a fantastic job with all of them. Each character has a unique voice. Love it.
Across the boards it seems that everyone is in agreement that these Georgette Heyer novels should be unabridged. I certainly add my vote to that.
While this isn't necessarily my favorite Georgette Heyer offering, it is entertaining nonetheless. This particular story contains more wacky hijinks than her other works.
Once again, Richard Armitage provides stellar narration. He provides three dimensional characters using only his voice. I'm pretty sure he could make my grocery list come to life, were he to read it aloud.
All in all I found this to be a very pleasant listen.
I love the mistakes the heroine makes along the way, and the lengths her resourceful yet annoyed brother will go to to keep her out of trouble. Meanwhile the hero, unbeknownst to all, has everything under control.
It is very, very hard to pick a favorite character. The three I mentioned above are probably all tied for first place. They are all too human. I love Horry's honesty, Pel's devotion, and Lord Rule's fall from power--a confirmed (sort of) bachelor falling for the innocence and charm of a stammering seventeen-year old.
I wish Richard Armitage would read ALL Georgette Heyer's books. He infuses each character with emotion, believability, and personality. It amazes me that he is able to keep each character separate--each having their own voice and mannerisms--yet read the story so smoothly with no apparent break. He just flows from one character into another. In my opinion no one could do the reading better.
My husband thought something was wrong with me because I would walk around our house laughing out loud. Then he would spot my headphones.
The only comment I have to offer is that I wish the book had not been abridged. Some of my favorite parts were not included and I dearly missed them. But I appease myself with the knowledge that movie scripts are always somewhat different from the books they're based on. However even in its shortened form the story was 'complete,' and if I hadn't read the book first, I really wouldn't have been able to tell that something was missing.
Just as in reading any of the Georgette Heyer books I found it impossible to stop listening to this recording once started so I sat into the early hours of the morning drinking it all in. I was far more delighted with The Convenient Marriage than Sylvester or Venetia (also narrated by Richard Armitage). It helped that it had been much longer since I read The Convenient Marriage and so I could not actually remember the bits that were left out in this abridged version (I found the parts omitted in Sylvester and Venetia - especially in the meeting between Venetia and Damarel - almost painful). Chiefly though Richard Armitage does such an excellent job of portraying the various characters (each with his or her unique voice) and of expressing their emotions that he really brought them to life for me. He`s a good narrator too with clear pronounciation and has a very pleasant voice to listen to.
Yes- Richard Armitage is wonderful.
The narrator seemed to make this story and its characters move through each scene- very well done!
His mastery of the charcters voices and his own velvety baritone were captivating. I felt I could listen to him read ANYTHING.
yes... and then I listened to it again the next day.
This was wonderful- I will be looking at more audio books after this.
Big fan of English period romances. Listened to it twice but I could listen to Richard Armitage read the phone book.
Love the ending
His accent is most enjoyable and I don't even mind when he changes his voice to match the character. Listened to another person read a book & I wanted to kill the narrator for the voices she affected.
The pace of the story ... it kept moving and maintained my interest! (Granted, this was an abridged version - I shall have to check out the actual book sometime to get a sense of what I might have missed.)
The narration. ;)
The Earl of Rule - I loved the timbre of his voice for this character.
It made me sigh at times - especially at the end! It made my (brief) daily commute quite enjoyable.
It is just amazing how Mr. Armitage can bring multiple characters to life. I was unfairly worried that Horry's stutter would annoy me - but it never did! More of Ms. Heyer's works read by Mr. Armitage, please!
Adventurous, Humorous, Engrossing
Do the unabridged version.
When Lord Rule revelas he has Horatia's curl in his pocketses!
Richard Armitage is now one of my favorite readers along with Tim Curry, Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry narrating
"A Radio Play of a Narration"
An interesting, and slightly subdued version of Georgette Heyer's novel, superbly interpreted by an excellent British actor. This version is easier to believe than the full text, and a charming listen. Mr Armitage's capacity to give voice to young ladies is a joy, whilst continuing to use his natural timbre for clearly tall, robust, male characters, and managing camp males too. The other two of Miss Heyer's novels read Mr Armitage have fewer characters, and less Regency Romp: this really is read as if my a series of players. Enjoy.
"Well Worth 4 Stars"
Highwaymen, duels and excitement all come together in this novel. And Richard Armitage adds gripping narration to the plot. Well worth a listen...and 4 stars!
"enjoyable intriguing read"
I really enjoyed this book. The lead characters are unpredictable and hold your interest. Beautifully read by Richard armitage.
"lovely story, wonderful performance"
This is a lovely, romantic, period story. I don't know the full version, so I can't say how this abridged version compares, but it didn't feel like something was missing.
The performance by Richard Armitage is absolutely delightful. So far I have listened to a number of audiobooks, and my favourite reader up til now was Stephen Fry. Armitage may now be my favourite. He reads calmly and clearly with his deep voice. He voices the female characters really lovely, especially Horatia and her little stutter. It was difficult not to listen to all 5 hours in one go.
All other audiobooks read by Richard Armitage are now on my wish list...
"A lovely Georgette Heyer, beautifully written"
I'd read other Georgette Heyer books before, but not this one, so I came to this book not knowing what was going to happen!
It was easy to follow (where I sometimes find that I lose track a little with audio books), with Heyer's usual delightful selection of characters, heroes, cads and heroines (and we're not necessarily talking traditional heroines).
Richard Armitage does a terrific voice of reading this, I admit that I am a fan of his, but I was also unsure of him reading a book with so many female characters, but he did an excellent job, each character had their own voice and tone, so you always knew who you were listening to.
A delight to listen to, and I've now bought the other Heyer's books read by Armitage, a real achievement, as I rarely buy unabridged editions.
Richard Armitage is the perfect narrator for Georgette Heyer's novels. His characterisation is brilliant.
More please !
"Lovely, entertaining story beautifully read"
Really enjoyed this story about the arranged marriage between the feisty 17 yr old Horatia and the languid and much older Lord Rule. Read brilliantly by Richard Armitage with every character having their own distinctive voice. I particularly loved his stammering Horatia and the odious whiner Mr Drelincourt. Definitely recommended.
"A Georgette Gem"
Has only suddenly dawned on me that this is an abridged version - looking back on some of my other Heyer audible favourites they've been abridged too. So I wonder if some clever cutting does actually make the experience better. (I have to say an unabridged I am currently listening to is going on a bit...).
This is a lovely story with good strong (and somewhat unlikely) characters - wonderfully read by Richard Armitage who is definitely my favourite Heyer reader.
"Charming leads, beautifully narrated"
Richard Armitage is an excellent narrator, even for a cast of this size (where many less skilled narrators fall down), and on the strength of that I bought this and the other Heyers he's narrated in spite of the fact they're abridged (and I avoid buying abridged books whenever possible).
This might be my second favourite Heyer, but since it was one of the first I read and I've now read very many more in the past few months, this might be the first that I go back to and listen through again, just to make sure. ;)
I also find that, while I'm now sorely tempted to buy the unabridged version so I can hear the original in it's entirety, I'll be very sorry to have to adjust to a different narrator's interpretation of the characters as I'm not sure that that isn't part of what made this one a favourite.
"Quite diverting if a bit silly."
This book really picked my spirits up. Not the most complex story, and certainly not among the the great Romances but it was humorously entertaining and a good light tale to slip between darker, heavier books. I found the dynamic between the two main characters, Horatia and Rule, to be too one sided, H always putting her foot in it and portrayed sometimes as empty headed or un-clever, versus her husband R, the dashing rake, always quick witted, gentlemanly and two steps ahead of everyone. I'd have preferred a more intelligent heroine to match the appealing Rule, but I suppose H's ignorance in youth, earnest character, and pronounced stutter are part of what make her endearing.
The performance too was very endearing. The range of voices and accents gave lots of texture to the world, especially when the author seemed to assume readers are somewhat familiar with Regency Romances and does little to embellish the world with detail.
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