- Title: The Corinthian
- Author: Georgette Heyer
- Genre: Romance
- Format: Paperback
- Source: Own
- Reviewed by: Olga
- Rating: 5 out of 5
Description: Georgette Heyer, the grande dame of Regencies, is considered the creator of the modern Regency genre. From her first book in 1935, she established herself as the expert in the field.
In her 1940 novel “The Corinthian” the only question perplexing Sir Richard Wyndham is one of marriage. When he chances on a beautiful young fugitive climbing out of a window by means of knotted sheets, he realizes life is about to get very interesting!
Review: This book is a treasure trove of laughter. It should be used in laugh therapy.
Sir Richard Wyndham is a twenty-nine-year-old Corinthian – wealthy, sophisticated, handsome, and supremely bored with his untroubled, aristocratic existence. He boxes like a champion, drives his horses like an Apollo, and dresses to the nines.
He has only one gripe: his mother and sister keep accosting him to get married. He doesn’t wish to, so he drowns his gloom in brandy. Later, after getting ultimately drunk, he wanders the streets of London and wallows in self-pity, until he catches a girl, seventeen-year-old Pen Creed, dangling out of a window of her aunt’s house on a too short a sheet.
Pen, disguised as a boy, is set on avoiding a distasteful marriage to her cousin, who “has a face like a fish.” She wants to have an adventure.
From the moment she falls into Richard’s arms, boredom becomes the least of his worries. Pen, an enterprising young woman, enmeshes them both in a series of crazy imbroglios. As soon as they escape a thief, they get saddled with a stolen diamond necklace. Then Pen’s aunt comes in pursuit, and Richard has no choice but to lie to the shrewish woman. Then an irate father of a neighborhood beauty accuses Pen, who is still dressed as a boy, of trifling with his innocent daughter. Then a Bow Street runner almost claps Pen in jail. You get the drift.
Richard has his hands full with his mischievous charge. With poise and patience, he extricates her from one scrape after another, but the more time he spends with Pen, the deeper he tumbles in love with her. She is friendly and compassionate, naïve and resourceful. Always full of hair-raising ideas, she lets her imagination fly unfettered and charms the socks out of the world-weary playboy Richard. Without meaning to, she teaches him to enjoy life again.
These two protagonists dance a merry gavotte around each other. She pretends he is her uncle/tutor/cousin/trustee and treats him with easy affection. She doesn’t even realize she is in love with him until the very end. He knows his mind earlier in the story but can’t declare his heart because he wouldn’t take advantage of an inexperienced girl.
To this charismatic duo, the author added a dozen eccentric secondary characters and a plot that wounds itself like a demented corkscrew, full of absurd allegation and mistaken identities. The dialog is fast and witty, and the food, as always in Heyer’s novels, is delicious. Together, they form the best recipe for a light and sparkly literary masterpiece.
Definitely one of the best Heyer’s novels.