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Friday, 24 May 2013

The Talisman Ring

Having reflected on my impetuous announcement, I have decided that perhaps a target of a book a day (plus review) is a little over-ambitious. I have joined a photography class, and I have also started the process of cleaning my room and arranging my books by author (both of which are no small tasks, I assure you. I am making an inventory of my books so as to be able to keep a miserly track of them. I have only reached number 117, and I was nowhere near done before I gave up in despair.) So should I be unable to finish a book in a day, I will still post - it will just be an ongoing process - a continuous reflection while reading. Sort of like a book journal.

I was going to (finally) read The Great Gatsby first, my curiousity pricked by Baz Luhrmann (although I haven't seen the movie yet). But I felt an even more insistent pricking by a review of The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer in the Captive Reader blog I mentioned in my earlier post. I have never read Georgette Heyer before. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was absolutely delighted. I am still only about halfway through (didn't get much time today, sadly). But I have already laughed out loud several times. 

After the death of Lord Sylvester (bear with me, I am not good with the nobility, so I shall be conveniently vague on details), Eustacie (half-french) is engaged to Lord Tristram (a nephew, I think) by Lord Sylvester's last wishes. The actual heir, Ludovic, fled the country after being involved in gambling and (allegedly) a murder involving the possession of a priced heirloom - the talisman ring. Nearly everybody is convinced of his guilt, and Tristram helps him flee. Eustacie, however, considers him the only 'romantic' figure in her family. Very soon, Eustacie and Tristram realize that they do not suit each other at all, and Eustacie decides to run away and become a governess. She unexpectedly stumbles upon Ludovic, who is now a smuggler, and becomes almost instantly convinced of his innocence. She is unable to go through with her plans, and goes with Ludovic to an inn (after a thrilling chase in which Ludovic is shot in the shoulder). There, the ruckus attracts the attention of one miss Sarah Thane, who has stopped, with her brother Hugh, at the inn for the night. Sarah becomes instantly and inextricably involved in the 'adventure.' Tristram arrives at the inn the next day, demanding to know if Eustacie is there. He finds her and Ludovic (after they manage to fob off a policeman who comes looking for Ludovic), and not finding the ring in his possession, also becomes convinced of his innocence. That is as far as I have got.

I love Tristram and I adore Eustacie. As for Sarah Thane, I think it is marvelous how she is 'romantic' enough to suit Eustacie and 'sensible' enough to talk to Tristram. This sentence, said to Eustacie, I found absolutely priceless:
"At all events there seems to be some doubt about Sir Tristram's guilt. I think, if I were you, I would not marry him until we can be positive he is the murderer."
Taken out of context, how that sounds! But that is only one of many gems. The minute Eustacie opens her mouth, you can be sure you'll laugh. Tristram's reactions are almost more priceless (if something can be 'more priceless').

'Eustacie drew a deep breath. "I see that I have misjudged you, Cousin Tristram," she said handsomely. "One must make reparation, enfin. I will marry you."
"Thank you," said Sir Tristram, "but the matter does not call for such a sacrifice as that, I assure you." 
He saw a certain raptness steal into her eyes, and added: "Don't waste time picturing yourself in the role of a martyred bride, I beg of you! I haven't the smallest desire to marry you." '

So far, I have enjoyed every sentence. And finding a romance novel that is not utterly predictable and capable of humour apart from the usual, cliched, 'romantic banter,' is very refreshing. I look forward to reading the rest of the book, and more books by Heyer as well.