4.75* for Sylvester or The Wicked Uncle
Other than the first few units, I loved the book! I am so great a Georgette Heyer fan that it really bugs me to write anything that may be even tending towards what may be deprecating. So it is with a heavy heart and a pang of guilt that I say I found the first few units a trifle boring. I was actually waiting for something interesting to happen. There were some parts in these units which were not bad, but overall I felt a little disappointed. If this may be due to the fact that I am binging on GH, then I think the book is not to be blamed as I may cease to find something novel if I tend to read the same kind of stuff in continuity. Having said all this, I am happy to add that this was only a very small teeny weeny part of the whole picture! The chunkier and the most interesting part follows now…
The story is about His Grace Sylvester Rayne, Duke of Salford who has laid down a set of stringent requirements he expects in his future wife, but is unaware that fate is leading him towards a diagonally opposite future with him falling for Miss Phoebe Marlow, who not only detests him and frames him as a villain in her anonymously published book, but also makes him understand the faults to his character, which no one has ever dared to and that too in a very frank and uncivil way! Phew! A bit heavy, but the story is not so. Very interesting and kind of like Pride and Prejudice revisited.
In general the characters are very different and there is not a crowd of them which leads the reader to concentrate majorly on the story and not to be led on to the way of being constantly in a mind to retain the numerous characters. And as always many common tertiary characters make fleeting appearances or mentions throughout the book. (Read Lady Sefton and Lord Brummel)
Now why is the book different? A couple of reasons to it:
1) The protagonists’ appearance are unconventional.
2) The heroine goes against convention and is an author (Bravo! I was elated!)
Now while the appearances were very much against the regular, there had to be immense strengths to personalities to make the story fetching, and boy, didn’t one find it! Flying eyebrows and brown complexion are features which brought about the major turns and twists in the story!
I loved their personalities for being just so, because then there is no doubt in the sincerity of their affections, which makes it more realistic.
The heroine’s being an author was the most catching point of the book for me, because it was that which caused a great deal of trouble to her relationship with the hero and at the same time improved it so much. When I see from my own writing experiences, I very well know that drawing up such stories where there is a great deal of the battle of the intellects, it is not at all an easy task, and reading and criticizing a book is one thing, appreciating such intricate pieces of writing, a totally different. Being a Georgette Heyer book, I need not say she deserves full marks on that score! Because the heroine is a very clever female there is so much to the story which cannot be found in those with too naive and compliant ones and this really keeps one hooked onto it.
His Grace Sylvester Rayne, Duke of Salford is such a proud character and is annoyingly indifferent. He is immersed in self consequence. He is a rake and very assured of himself and thinks himself the centre of the universe. And he doesn’t see a fault with it, because he has imbibed a thought process, thanks to all the people surrounding him, that constantly tells him that all this is his due! Even with all these faults, when it comes to the people he truly loves, he is beyond doubt a most caring person. Be it his mother, his late brother Harry, his nephew Edmund (in his own way!) or Phoebe (even when he’s mad at!) (Read the return journey from France) Sylvester’s character is quite unusual and though many readers have not found him likeable, he was very interesting. He is very clear in what he wants (though ends up choosing the totally opposite!) and is very responsible and I did get annoyed when he was thinking of getting a wife as if he were buying some piece of furniture, no emotions attached at all! But he never thought of nor expected love. For him beauty was never a prerequisite, brains sure were! So when he does tumble into the scrapes of Phoebe’s creation it leads us into some good dialogue and interesting turns and twists; and according to me the charm of the book lies in his relationship with Phoebe. He does bend himself in many ways just to please her, and also becomes more thoughtful about a few things. He is very harsh to her, particularly at the Castlereaghs’ ball, but understanding his character, it is so because he passionately loves her and is unable to overcome the fact that she has so easily shown him the mirror.
Miss Phoebe Marlow is a most unusual heroine and I loved her for the fact that she was dark. So unconventional and so unfiction like. She is clever and kind and so unmindful of the things she utters. Very uncivil towards Sylvester, frank to a fault and does not have any conduct within herself. Despite all these things, I just loved her. The thing I found remarkable in her character was that though she was never tenderly addressed by anyone, she never expressed or expected it as her due and never complained about it. When she is sure she won’t marry, she is ready to set up her own house without pining and sulking about it. I was touched at her scene with The Duchess (Salford’s mother), when she breaks down at experiencing tenderness for the first time. Though she does love Sylvester, she does not believe that he could really love her back. She has not pride but a great deal of self respect and she admirably fights for it. She is indeed a perfect match for Sylvester, and Fate’s answer in full to him!
The secondary characters of Tom and the Duchess I liked a lot. Both are very likeable and bring a softness to the story, contrasting the blaring attitudes of the protagonists. Edmund seems a sweetheart and a child you always want to cuddle.
Lady Henry is such a pain and Sir Nugent a Ridicklus gudgeon!
Overall I found the book very interesting, its seldom that I find a GH otherwise, but then too I think I am not partial here.
But on second thoughts, even if I am, what the heck! Its GH after all!
So go ahead, grab a copy and enjoy the read!