Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What I'm Reading: A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer

When life gets serious, my reading gets light. As frequenters of these pages already know, for me that often means Georgette Heyer, the queen of the Regency romance novels. I've written about Heyer's novels in general so if you are rolling your eyes over romance novels, please do read it for a bit more explanation.

I've been struggling much more than usual this week over my Lenten penance. So many times I've stepped to the brink and then “So, could you not watch with me one hour?" comes to mind. And I turn away.

Between that and the Triduum beginning tomorrow, I think you could say I'm in a serious mood. Time for Heyer! Though, to be fair, this is a bit more serious Heyer than many.

A Civil Contract 
by Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer wrote two types of romance novels. One type was lighter, often verging on farce or containing large doses of adventure, such as Faro's Daughter or The Talisman Ring. The other type was more serious such as These Old Shades or this book, A Civil Contract.

We hear a lot in romances about couples who married for money but they tend to be couples on the periphery of the main action. In this book, Heyer took the bold action of making a distinctly unromantic match the main story. Adam Deveril must marry money or lose the family estate. Jenny Chawleigh's father is vulgar but rich and wants to boost his daughter into society. Complicating matters is the fact that Adam has been in love for some time with their one mutual acquaintance, Jenny's friend Julia who is everything that Jenny is not — cultured, sensitive, and beautiful. Jenny is painfully shy, direct, and plain.

Overall, this is a look at marriage and how one makes one's life work when our plans for the future are torn away from us. I remember when I was a college student, first discovering Heyer, this was one of my least favorite books. Now, with much time behind me and a 33-year marriage, it is one of my favorites.

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