Friday, August 17, 2012

The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer

The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer

Historical/Regency Romance (clean)

Read August 2012

3.5 Stars

My Review:
I have so many things to say about this book that I don't know where to start.  I guess I should start with WHY I read this book.
WHY:  I have been reading regency romance and really enjoying them.  I am currently waiting for some books I requested/put on hold at the library and was looking for something to read in the meantime.  The library had 3 or 4 Georgette Heyer books on the shelf and this one stood out to me the most in the description as something I would enjoy.  Of course, the Title didn't make any sense to me, but I just let that go.  

THE COVER:  Ack!  Have you ever seen an uglier cover of a book as the orange and red with the unattractive people posing stiffly on it, in clothes that don't look regency at all?  This was not a promising start.  It has to go down in my history as one of the ugliest things I have ever seen.  Most of the Georgette Heyer books I have read have the art of the regency era on them like the beautiful drawing on the other cover which I have here.  

THE TITLE:  What does this mean?  It is the title given to the main character, Sir Waldo Hawkridge, who is a renowned sportsman.  People call him The Nonesuch.  The dictionary defines it as "model of excellence or perfection of a kind; one having no equal".  The book has this dialogue:

"They call him the Nonesuch!" said Courtenay reverently.

Do they, love?  That would be a nickname, I daresay.  Depend upon it, it was given him for some silly reason, like the way your grandfather was used to call your poor Aunt Jane Muffin, all because --"

"Oh!" cried her niece, impatiently interrupting these amiable meanderings, "as though anyone was ever called that for a stupid joke!  It means -- it means perfection!  Doesn't it, Ancilla?"

Miss Trent, selecting a length of silk from her skein, replied, in her cool, well-bred voice:  "A paragon, certainly."

"Fudge!  It means being the greatest Go among all the Goers!"  stated Courtenay.

I am ever so grateful for this bit of dialogue to help me understand who this man, Sir Waldo, is.  I did not check the dictionary before reading the book.

THE STORY:  Fantastic!  If my rating of stars was based on the story and some of the dialogue, this book would have 5 stars.  Alas, I have to take in the whole reading experience.  I loved the story, the witty banter, the hero, the heroine, the spoiled brats, the presumed rakes.  Really, I thought every character in this book was thought out and described beautifully.  There were enough twists and turns in the plot to keep it interesting and moving at a good pace.  The romantic tension was lovely, not too much and kept me wanting for just a bit more.  Really, it is the best STORY that I think I have read of Georgette Heyer's. 

THE CONFUSION and FRUSTRATION:  My biggest complaint about this book, is that there are too many words and phrases that make no sense to me.  It started with the title, that I didn't know what it meant and went from there.  I've read regency books before, and come across words from the era that I don't know what they mean, but I can usually figure out their meaning by the surrounding words and paragraphs.  This book didn't have an occasional word I didn't understand.  It had a lot of words I didn't understand.  And most of them were what I think were slang words of the day.  Please, let me give some examples of these words.

These were all within the first chapter and I could figure most of them out:

Jack-at warts 
young sauce-box 
buffleheaded clunch

Those were all within the first chapter and each chapter had words like this in it.  I think it was meant to be funny and part of the feel of the book.  However, for me it was confusing.  Sometimes I couldn't tell if the words were meant to be true insults or sarcastic put downs or only a little slight.  I just couldn't tell.

Then to end this great book, Georgette Heyer ends with dialogue that again, I don't get.  I get all the words, I don't understand the reference.  The character says, "A great gun, Waldo!  Damme, a Trojan!".  What does this mean?  (This is rhetorical, please don't email me with the answer.)  

There were also many secondary characters in the story that were hard for me to keep track of who was who.   I found myself saying, "does it really matter who this person is, I hope not, because I'm just gonna keep reading and see if I can figure it out later."  And why do authors put in secondary characters with names that all start with the same letter?  If you are going to have several secondary characters, don't have many of them start with the letter "C".  Help a reader out and give them very differing names.

I haven't felt this strongly pulled in opposite opinions in my memory.  It is a book I loved and hated.  I couldn't put it down because it was so good and yet I couldn't understand much of the dialogue.  It really doesn't make much sense that I would like it so much, but I guess that says a lot for Georgette Heyer's story telling.

If you have read Georgette Heyer's reading before, then I would recommend this book.  It was clever and the characters were terrific.  If you've never read Heyer's work before, then don't start with this one.  You may be more confused than you wish to be while reading something that is supposed to be fun.

Warnings: None

I would let my 14 year old read this book, but I know she would never get through it.

ps I was enjoying this book so much last night that I stayed up until 1 am to finish it, I couldn't put it down.  That doesn't happen a lot.


  1. Fun! I've just learned about Heyer and have read Grand Sophy and am reading Cotillion right now! I found it hard to get into the book and then once I got going, I was hooked. It's true that often I find myself hoping that I really get what they're talking about. :) Miss you!

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