August 16 is Georgette Heyer's birthday, so August is the perfect time to review one of her most popular books, The Grand Sophy.
When Sir Horace Stanton-Lacy shows up at his sister's house, she doesn't realize the impending changes about to take place in the Ombersley household. Sir Horace, on his way to Brazil on a diplomatic mission, is sending his twenty-year-old daughter, Sophy, to stay with his sister. The family expects a "little Sophy" who has been living with her widowed father. The self-confident tall woman who arrives with her parrot, greyhound, monkey, and horse, isn't what anyone expected.
And, if the Honourable Charles Rivenhall, Sophy's cousin, thought he was going to control Sophy, and quietly introduce her to society, he needed to think again. For Sophy, known as "The Grand Sophy" to the gentleman soldiers who had been stationed in Europe when she was there, is determined to straighten out the sad lives of her cousins, including Charles, engaged to a woman that Sophy sees as a deadly bore. The lives of the Ombersley family will never be the same, once Sophy takes over.
Georgette Heyer was known as the "Queen of the Regency romances", and deservedly so. The details of life and clothing in Victorian England is well-researched, and described, without being boring. The characters are unique, and the conversations are enjoyable and witty. And, Sophy is one of the best characters Heyer created. She's self-confident, humorous, and a born matchmaker. Heyer masterfully created quite a contrast to Sophy in the form of Charles' fiancée, Miss Wraxton, a stuffy, over-critical, staid woman. Sophy is just so much fun. Charles may find her exasperating, but he also has to find her admirable.
Sourcebooks Casablanca has reissued many of Georgette Heyer's books this year. It's been a pleasure to read some of the ones I missed reading the first time around. But, if you only have time to read one of Georgette Heyer's romances, make it The Grand Sophy.
The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer. Sourcebooks Casablanca. Reissued 2009. ISBN 9781402218941 (paperback), 372p.