Guest Review: The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

Posted July 30, 2009 by Ames in Reviews | 10 Comments

Ames‘ review of The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

The Grand Sophy has arrived…

And when Sir Horace Stanton-Lacy is ordered to South America on Diplomatic Business he parks his only daughter, Sophy, with his sister in Berkley Square. Sophy can immediately see that her cousins are in a sad tangle: Charles is engaged to a bluestocking, and Cecilia’s in love with a poet of all things. It seems Sophy has gotten there just in time…

And the Hon. Charles Rivenhall’s life will never be the same…

While Sophy is going to outrageous lengths to solve everyone else’s problems, she finds that she herself might have some big surprises in store.

Summary: The Grand Sophy is about a young lady who turns everyone’s life upside down, but all in a good way. She’s a charmer is what she is. It all starts when her father gets posted to Brazil. Sir Horace, Sophy’s father, is a diplomat and has lived all over Europe. Vienna, Spain, Belgium…you name it. And Sophy has followed him everywhere. But she can’t go to Brazil so Sir Horace asks his sister if she’ll take Sophy in for a few months. Lady Ombersley would gladly take her in, but is unsure how her eldest, Charles Rivenhall would feel about it. You see, Lord Ombersley and everyone else in the household kind of bows down to Charles. Charles saved the family from their father’s ruinous gaming debts and now they listen to him. Charles isn’t a bad sort of guy, he just wishes things to be done properly and doesn’t suffer fools. But he has no quibble with “young, quiet Sophy” staying with them temporarily.

What a surprise everyone is in for!

Sophy shows up about a week later than expected (which is shocking enough, a woman travelling on her own) and she doesn’t come alone. She has Tina, an Italian greyhound and Jacko, a little monkey, as well as a parrot in her menagerie. She immediately creates a little tornado of energy around her and she can see that her relatives are a bit melancholy and that they need some livening up. Of course Charles is upset by this change in environment and always tries to thwart Sophy’s style.

Ok, dear reader, you must have figured something out here – Sophy and Charles are cousins, but they’re also the h/h. In my head, I just fibbed the facts a little bit in my head and said “Self, things were different back in the day.” Boy were they ever.

So here’s the deal: Sophy’s young cousin Cecilia was almost engaged to a Lord Charlbury, but before that announcement was announced she fell for a young poet who although from a good family, would not be a good match for her. Also, Charles himself is engaged to a Miss Wrexton, a prim and proper fussy lady who cannot stand Sophy. So Sophy goes about getting Cecilia back with Lord Charlbury and breaking up Charles’ engagement. She doesn’t want Charles for herself, but all she knows is that Miss Wrexton is all wrong for him.

My Thoughts: Right from the very first page I was sucked into Sophy’s crazy little world. In any other writer’s hand, I’m sure Sophy would come off as insufferable and a little miss know it all. But Sophy is molded by Georgette Heyer’s genius and she’s a great character. She is a miss know it all, but she also recognizes her faults. She admits when she might have gotten herself into a somewhat dangerous situation…once or twice and she knows she has a terrible temper that makes her act rashly. But these are all endearing things. She’s smart, independent, and kind-hearted. She also bows down to propriety when it suits her needs.

Which is something that drives Charles crazy! He’s barely dragged his family out of debt and he shoulders quite a lot of burden. So the last thing he needs is someone else he has to watch out for. That’s why Miss Wrexton is the perfect lady for him. She knows the rules of society and abides by them. Her reputation is without fault. She’s also dull as doorknob and Charles, when seeing Miss Wrexton next to Sophy, can see how alive his cousin is. Miss Wrexton also thinks she superior to everyone, and believes as Charles’ fiancee she can lecture them on their proper place.
The sparks that Sophy and Charles strike off each other are quite fiery indeed. And it’s all in the dialog, which is excellent. I do love witty banter.
As much as I love The Grand Sophy, the ending did lag a little bit. The ending is one big farce of a situation that had me cracking up by the time it was resolved, but the build-up to the resolution was a bit meh. For that, I’m giving the Grand Sophy an A-, rather than an A.

4.5 out of 5

This book is available from Sourcebooks Casablanca. You can buy it here or here.

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10 responses to “Guest Review: The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

  1. I love the resurgence of Georgette Heyer! This is the third review in as many months I have seen. She is the author who showed me humor and smart dialogue makes a good story a WOW story. She is the reason I fell in love with romance! Thanks for this review.

  2. Sounds like a great book, exactly my type – the energetic heroine thawing out the stuffy hero. Too bad it’s by Ms Heyer (have difficulty with her writing style). Hmmm, I’ll definitively have to give her another try.

  3. Mame-I’m so glad her books are being re-released. She’s definitely a favorite author of mine now. And I love the Grand Sophy!

    Nath-I think you should give this book a try. What other books have you tried by this author?

  4. Li

    This was my first Heyer!

    I had been seeing shelves taken up by Heyers in Borders, and decided to flip through one to see what the fuss was about. Five minutes later, I was still standing there – I decided it was time to buy… pretty much glommed her entire backlist from then onwards.

    Yes, I ignore the cousins thing too 🙂

    Nath – another suggestion is Frederica. That’s a light funny one – and there is one scene which always makes me laugh no matter how many times I re-read it!

  5. This sounds cute. I’m going to have to pick some of these up. I think I’ve only read one or two Heyer’s. Not that I can remember which ones.

  6. Li-have you read Faro’s Daughter? That’s another excellent one where the h/h rub each other the wrong way. So good!

    Holly-I think you’d really enjoy this one. Definitely check out more of GH. 😛

  7. This is my absolute favorite Heyer book–Sophy is SO great! I love the scene where she goads him into shooting the playing card.

    The only sour note for me is the anti-Semitism in the portrayal of the moneylender–I plan to do a twist on that scene when I finally get around to writing my story with a Jewish hero.

  8. Rose-That’s a good scene!

    I noticed the anti-semitism. But you run into that with older books. I cringe when I come across racist portrayals of Native Americans.

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