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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2009 Naxos Audiobooks (P)2009 Naxos Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"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." (

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Abigail
  • bellevue, WA, United States
  • 02-19-11

Abridged... but its Richard Armitage!

Having never read/listened to this story prior to this version, I enjoyed it very much and just assumed it was one of the shorter Heyer novels. I just wished it was longer... only to find out that it could have been. This abridged version is good, and works as a story, so maybe its for the best. I love Richard's voice, and i could listen to him read for days on end. So I've listen to him read this story at least 3 times. It is very very sad that it's abridged. Buy it anyway, its a good listen.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Cute Old fashioned story

What did you like best about this story?

All of Georgette Heyer books are great feel good books. If you like other Georgette Heyer books this one will not disappoint. They are always my go to books on a rainy day. Richard Armitage narrates perfectly. I could listen to him over and over again!

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

romantic period drama

I'm usually a crime buff so Sylvester came as a welcome change. I haven't read a Georgette Heyer since I was a teen. It was wonderfully romantic. The accents and tones of the characters were perfect and I lost myself in the drama almost forgetting that it was Richard Armitage whispering in my ear........sigh.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Hazel
  • perth, Western AustraliaAustralia
  • 03-30-10

Absolutely fabulous

I normally avoid abridged books - particularly if it is a book I love. however on this occasion go ahead and purchase, I guarantee you won't be disappointed. This is one of Heyer's most charming novels, with a thoroughly Darcy-esque hero. The cleverness of the dialogue and the signature humour is all present, but what impressed me was the narrators ability to capture the characters so vividly. The man is a genius. If you love Georgette Heyer, buy this one. If you don't know Georgette Heyer, do yourself a favour and get to know her, and this is a very good place to start.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • connie
  • Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 01-21-10

fabulously fun fluff

Heyer re-mixes the plot and character elements of "Pride and Prejudice" and "Northanger Abbey" with her own "Lady of Quality" and "Sprig Muslim" for a delightfully entertaining version of the Regency romantic comedy --with pretty snappy dialogue, too. It took me a while to warm up to the narrator, but by mid-listen, he seemed right for the novel. I know Heyer's novels only in audio, but this seems like one of the best, if shortest, available on Audible.

For anyone out there who, like I did, hestitates to download a first Heyer, the price on this listen makes it certainly worth the gamble.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Judith
  • Pennington, NJ, United States
  • 11-25-09

great but why was it abridged

I liked this very much, the narrator is great, but so much of the book is left out when it is abridged. I hope they come out with the unabridged version.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Marcheta
  • Suffolk, VA, United States
  • 11-20-09

Georgette Heyer and Richard Armitage - love it!

I hadn't read Sylvester, but when I saw that Richard Armitage was the reader, I had to have it. Armitage, who plays Guy of Gisborne in the BBC Robin Hood series and was John Thornton in Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, is a wonderful actor and reader. He does a great job on all the different characters and I can't wait to share this one with my sister, who is also a big fan of Richard Armitage.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fun and absorbing

Thoroughly enjoyed it, but wish it was not abridged. Really fun Georgette Heyer - with the added irony of the heroine being a writer.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Avoid the abridged versions

Georgette Heyer is a master of making her reader interested in her story, without multiple chase scenes, threats of war and spies, even without overt sex. She had a lightness of wit and delicate hand in creating her books. There are few authors who can catch a reader's interest in the everyday life of the Regency - she was one of the finest.

It was my fault I did not doublecheck when I bought this whether the story was unabridged - and it is not. I had read it many years ago, and I was immediately aware of gaps and omissions. While still a fair story, all of the author's charming phrases and delectable witicisms have been butchered out of it. I made it through (gritting my teeth) once - it will not be listened to again.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Leah
  • Rock Falls, IL, United States
  • 01-13-11

Abridged version works

I haven't read the original, but I didn't notice any plot holes due to adbridgement. Richard Armitage does a really wonderful job with the different voices and contrary to a previous reviewer, I can detect no lisp.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Amanda
  • 12-22-10

Nectar for the ears

Sylvester was my first introduction to Georgette Heyer. I read the book because I knew the audio book read by Richard Armitage was coming out.

Both story and performance are an absolute joy. My only gripe ? It's not unabridged.

Heyer's characters and their adventures are exquisitely written.

Here they are brought to life in glorious technicolour by Richard Armitage's endlessly versatile and gifted voice.

He has me giggling out loud in the comic passages and sighing happily at the romance.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Katie
  • 01-10-11

An excellent story!

All in all, it is an excellent story ~ Georgette Heyer's story is about an independent spirit called Phoebe and the wonderful Sylvester too. It's so very entertaining. And it's no exaggeration to say Richard Armitage reads this novel like a dream, he brings out all the humour and yet, brings something of his own in there too.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-11-10

A Dream Come True

I have been a lover of Georgette Heyer's books for very many years. I am also a fan of Richard Armitage and have listened with enjoyment to his previous audio work of the Robin Hood stories and his absolutely amazing rendition of The Lords of the North.

So to have my favourite actor reading my favourite author is a dream come true. The pairing of Georgette Heyer's prose and Mr. Armitage's dark velvet voice is a marriage made in heaven.

This audio book is sheer listening enjoyment from beginning to end. There is a wide range of characters all lifted from the page and given their own distinctive voice. Mr. Armitage doesn't just read the book, he acts it. Listening to him read, has enriched and added to my enjoyment of the book.

I have rated this 5 star because as an audio book, I feel it is merited. However, the abridgement itself disappoints. So much warmth and humour is missing and also several important scenes which help us to understand the on/off relationship between Sylvester and Phoebe.

I encourage anyone who hasn't read the book to do so and fill in the gaps. It will add to your enjoyment of the audio book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kate Hope
  • 04-23-10

Garunteed to give you the vapours.

I cut my reading teeth on Georgette Heyer when I was a teenager. So, this rendition of Sylvester was a real find.

Nineteen year old Phoebe is a bit of (what Regency marms would call) a hoyden. She is unladylike, prefers riding to embroidery and she writes novels in secret. Phoebe's first encounter with arrogant Sylvester does not go well. When Sylvester turns up at Phoebe's home to offer for her hand, Phoebe makes her getaway. Adventures ensue.

Sylvester is read gamely by Richard Armitage which is a double bonus. He takes on the voices of various dowagers, maids, squires and squires sons with admirable competence. As for the sultry voice of Sylvester, I dare any lady not to wilt. I have not been able to find any other audiobook read by this versatile actor which is what makes Sylvester such a gem.

I recommend you give it a go and remember your smelling salts!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Alison
  • 03-12-10

Why abridged?

Far too much of this book was omitted,including many very funny passages, and others which further explained the developing relationship. Why was it so padded out with music? If a little was necessary to cover gaps in the story, it should have been kept to a minimum, and more of the book included!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-29-11


This was very well read but it is disappointing that so much has been omitted from one of Heyer's best books. In particular, many of the most comic scenes are missing. An unabridged version would be very welcome.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Bibliophile
  • 09-03-10

Old favourites

I must have read this forty years ago, and had decided to listen to some tapes from the public library. Unfortunately they have lasted even worse than I have, and as I was half way through the book, I checked Audible. It is a bit disappointing that it is an abridged version - Heyer fans can actually quite enjoy an 11 hour wallow - but actually very well abridged and very well read.
Typical of Heyer's romantic escapism and very accurate detail.
Sylvester is this obnoxious aristo who needs taking down a peg, and the heroine and her young friend manage that quite nicely

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Stephanie Jane
  • 02-27-10

Simply wonderful!

I normally avoid abridged books, but was encouraged to try this by the great reviews already here and because I had already enjoyed Armitage's reading of some of the Robin Hood stories.
I am so glad I did.
The story is engaging and does not seem to suffer from having been abridged - I did not notice any gaping holes! While some of the characters' attitudes are now a tad dated, the story itself is fresh and sassy and nowhere near as soppy as a lot of contemporary chick lit.
The reading however it what makes this audiobook - it is superb. Each character is distinctly and believably voiced and Richard Armitage is completely in tune with the pace and drama of the tale. Simply wonderful!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Catherine
  • 01-10-10

Thoroughly enjoyable!

This will delight Heyer and Armitage fans alike. Fantastic story and wonderful adaptation. I look forward to Armitage's next narration with great excitement.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jeanette
  • 01-09-10

A warm, dramatic interpretation of gentle comedy.

This is a charming interpretation of a delightful book; I doubt that I would have read it myself, but having had the book read to me is quite a different experience. Prior to this purchase, I have only bought from the factual collection, but the quality of the reading makes "Sylvester" as good as a radio play (praise indeed from a regular BBC Radio Four listener) and has converted me to the luxury of being read unabridged fiction, as an adult. Mr Armitage clearly enjoys his role as reader and interpreter, with a series a voices showing fidelity to the text, and a light humour. If you want to enjoy a romantic comedy, and to be read to by a talented actor, then this Audible Book is for you. (And you will feel it is being read for you, personally).

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jill
  • 07-21-17

Richard Armitage is the only good thing about this

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Pretty well a no to this question. While Richard Armitage does a marvellous job with the narration, the storyline was fairly insipid and shallow.

What was most disappointing about Georgette Heyer’s story?

It was fairly insipid and even a little amateurish.

What does Richard Armitage bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Richard Armitage is why I chose to listen to this story in the first place. He is my favourite narrator so far - I wish he would narrate more books. He is marvellous in giving each character their own voice and accent. Richard performed Sylvester (the character) and Tom so well that at times I found myself having a chuckle out loud.

Was Sylvester worth the listening time?

Only because of Richard Armitage as the narrator.

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  • Tara Bland
  • 01-10-17

Richard Armitage is the quintessential reader.

Heyer's story is enjoyable Georgian fiction, but it is Armitage's superb characterisation that truly captivates.

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  • Eleanor Turner
  • 05-10-16


Richard Armitage is perfect and so is Georgette Heyer. Unbeatable story and well read. Georgette's characters are so perfectly portrayed by the reader.

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  • S. Peckham
  • 01-12-15

heroine author

Typical Regency Heyer humour, full of her delicious improbabilities and manners - read wonderfully well... narrator adds character dimensions beyond the texr.