September 2, 2009

Arabella by Georgette Heyer

Daughter of a modest country clergyman, Arabella Tallant is on her way to London when her carriage breaks down outside the hunting lodge of the wealthy Mr. Robert Beaumaris. Her pride stung when she overhears a remark of her host's, Arabella pretends to be an heiress, a pretense that deeply amuses the jaded Beau. To counter her white lie, Beaumaris launches her into high society and thereby subjects her to all kinds of fortune hunters and other embarrassments.

When compassionate Arabella rescues such unfortunate creatures as a mistreated chimney sweep and a mixed-breed mongrel, she foists them upon Beaumaris, who finds he rather enjoys the role of rescuer and is soon given the opportunity to prove his worth in the person of Arabella's impetuous young brother...  

Arabella Tallant is the eldest daughter of eight children and considered a Beauty. The Tallant family lives in a cozy parsonage, the father being Reverend Henry Tallant, in genteel poverty. With little aspiration for Arabella contriving a great match in Yorkshire (a must to help marry off the rest of the girls and provide a living for the son's) Mrs. Tallant's long-held dream has been to have Arabella's godmother, Lady Bridlington, sponsor a London season for Arabella. When the invitation comes Arabella is very aware of how fortunate she is and resolves to make a good match to help support her family. Although she is a soft-hearted, conscientious girl, Arabella's temper gets the better of her when she overhears a careless remark made by the Nonpareil Beaumaris (one of the richest and most sought after bachelor's in England), leading her to prevaricate on her birth and circumstance...that she is The Rich Tallant!
The novel is a delightful bit of silliness. Its hard to believe such an eligible, rich bachelor as Beaumaris would have a heart of mush inside his facade of "cool civility" but Heyer always has a way of making her heros and heroines endear themselves to you. Beaumaris talks about his noble consequence but always in the end his actions are kinder than his words belie. Arabella is sweet and naive, although tenaciously single-minded in what she believes is right and wrong...causing much confusion and muddling of events in the Bridlington household and for the beleaguered Beaumaris...but he would not have it any other way!!!
Although at 312 pages shorter in length than most of her novels, and with the classic wit, strong characterization, and humorous happenings we have come to expect, Arabella is another winner from Heyer.
My Rating: 4.0

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