I still have not yet exhausted my desire to read the most popular of Georgette Heyer’s novels…this time reading Sylvester which has become my new favourite. Sylvester is the Duke of Salford and at the age of 28 has decided it is time to marry, but of course only to a suitable girl who meets all his particular requirements. His mother concerned for his happiness secretly prefers him to marry for love to keep in check his sense of consequence and deep reserve, and suggests he consider the granddaughter of a very good friend, Phoebe Marlow. Phoebe being neither beautiful nor elegant and quite lacking in confidence had perceived a cut from the Duke on a much earlier occasion and formed an instant dislike of the Duke’s arrogance. So much so that she used him as the model for the villain in her first published novel…the dastardly Count Ugolino. Both Sylvester’s and Phoebe’s relatives muddle in the affair and further complicating things Phoebe’s novel becomes a success…from here follows a rollicking tale of misunderstandings and missteps.
Sylvester reminded me at times of Pride and Prejudice. Although the setting and exact nature of the grievances are not the same, what is similar are the bumbling of the hero and the lack of tact from the heroine. Miscommunication leads the characters to make assumptions about one another and because of the violence of their emotions efforts at reconciliation often have even more disastrous results. The Duke’s arrogance and self-consequence create misunderstandings with Phoebe and Phoebe has made assumptions about the Duke’s unfeeling character because of his treatment of those beneath his consequence. Sylvester has much in common with Heyer’s other Regency stories; humor, witty dialogue, fast-paced plot and great characters…but what makes this story distinctive from the others are the incredibly interesting complex characters. The toplofty Duke who must be taken down a peg or two, the talented guileless ingénue who is always getting into scrapes, the mischief-making nephew, the meddlesome cranky grandmamma and the foppish dandy obsessed with his boot tassels! I loved every bit of the story and hated to finish it. My Rating: 5.0