Monday, April 15, 2013

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

It's not you, it's me.

This trite phrase has become the ultimate dating cliche, but it effectively summarizes my experience reading The Grand Sophy. Georgette Heyer's knack for comedy and memorable characterization makes her novels the ultimate escapism for Regency nuts like me, and I've sung her praises since I randomly picked up Arabella a few years ago. This time, unfortunately, she just didn't delight me the way she usually does.


It's not her fault, it's mine. Really it is. Having heard The Grand Sophy touted as an absolute favourite among Heyer fans, I sought solace in its pages when going through an especially difficult few weeks. If anybody could lift my spirits, I thought, it would be Georgette Heyer.

And she did...a bit. The heroine's tenacity and special knack for rearranging others' affairs to her own satisfaction certainly amused me. Particularly humorous passages had me laughing out loud. Still, my Depths of Despair spirit (a la Anne Shirley) undoubtedly clouded the entire reading experience, making me relatively blind to Sophy's titular grandeur. I simply wasn't in the right emotional state to properly enjoy the many literary fruits Heyer has to offer. 

Please forgive me, Georgette! It's not you, it's me!

Nevertheless, I want to share a bit of the novel that did get through to me. Mr. Fawnhope, a prospective poet so preoccupied with his supposed genius he is utterly oblivious to the world around him, cheered me up whenever he appeared on the page. In the following quote, his sorta-kinda betrothed Cecilia finds herself tiring of Mr. Fawnhope's unflagging narcissism:

Mr. Fawnhope's conversation [was], at present, almost wholly confined to the scope and nature of his great tragedy. To listen to a poet arguing with himself -- for [Cecilia] could scarcely have been said to have borne any part in the discussion -- on the merits of blank verse as a dramatic medium was naturally a privilege of which any young lady must be proud, but there could be no denying that to talk for half an hour to a man who listened with interest to anything she said was, if not precisely a relief, certainly a welcome variation in her life. 

Moments like these made the reading unequivocally worthwhile, but I look forward to revisitng The Grand Sophy at a time when I'm more receptive to its charms.


JoAnn said...

I really want to read Georgette Heyer, but will remember to start with a different title... just in case.

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

Sorry that you're having a rough time right now. Hopefully you'll be able to revisit this one day in a more cheerful frame of mind and enjoy it more!

Diana said...

Everybody seems to love this one, JoAnn, which is another reason I feel at fault for not loving it completely. If you're looking for a different Heyer to start with though, I'd recommend Arabella, Frederica or Sylvester. They're all excellent!

Diana said...

Thank you, Claire! I'm already feeling much better, and The Grand Sophy did help. I will definitely reread it in the future for a better experience.