Sunday, August 28, 2011

Book Review: SYLVESTER or THE WICKED UNCLE by Georgette Heyer

A duke who needs to be taken down a notch or fifteen and a battered down young miss who fights back the only way she can. Did I say Sylvester, or The Wicked Uncle by Georgette Heyer?

Sylvester, the Duke of Salford has decided to marry. And he has his list of requirements, and five prospective candidates. Why shouldn't he? He deserves nothing less.

And then he meets Phoebe, a young girl without money, connections or looks. A more unsuitable lady cannot be found. Her straightforward manner attracts a nobleman who has always been catered to.

But only up to a point. That point is reached when Sylvester discovers Phoebe is the authoress of a novel which skewers the rich the famous of the ton, but most especially him. Never expecting the novel to be published, Phoebe cast him as the villain, based on her then-limited knowledge. But when the ton fools blow up the novel's meaning to absurd proportions, everyone assumes she knew all the intimate details of her characters' lives, which she didn't. They punish her for it. Especially Sylvester, whom she has come to like.

Sylvester is a load of fun as the action ricochets from one improbably funny scenario to another. Ms. Heyer pokes fun at fatuous fribbles, feather-brained ladies, too-rich-for-their-own-good noblemen, spoiled brats, and horse-mad country squires who care more for their horses than their children. And she's wrapped it all up in her delightful Regency language.

Sylvester is also a tale about hiding--and what happens when you can't hide any more. Sylvester is an unusual type of hero, the closet tyrant--affable on the outside, but ruthless underneath. Phoebe also fits the closet motif. Powerless under the sway of a cruel stepmother and a weak father, she fights back against the brutal ton that disdains her by writing a novel ridiculing them.

I didn't care for either character. Sylvester is brutish in his attempts to punish Phoebe, and Phoebe accepts the blame for something that is not her fault. But they are appropriate to the time and partially redeem themselves by the end of the book.

I did like Phoebe's life-long friend, Tom, a decent, level-headed young man who calls a spade a spade and sticks up for Phoebe against Sylvester's wrong-headed treatment.

If you like Regency, Sylvester is another sensational ride into Georgette Heyer's historical world.

Thank you all,
ARC provided by Sourcebooks

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