Saturday, June 15, 2019

Frederica - Chapters 5 and 6

In which Alverstoke tells his sister he will give a ball after all - but with conditions - and Frederica has an unexpected adventure in Green Park.
Chapter 5

Charles Trevor is astonished to learn that Alverstoke wants to visit a foundry.  He gets excited at the thought that Alverstoke wants to speak on the topic to the House of Lords (his ambition is politics) but it is a false hope – Alverstoke reveals that he wants the information on foundries (or pneumatic lifts!) for his young cousin Felix, and mentions that Charles was right about Charis’ beauty.  Charles is torn between bemusement at the sudden interest in mechanics and slight worry for Charis’ possible susceptibility:
It did not occur to him that his lordship had yielded to the blandishments of a persistent urchin; and if such a notion had crossed his mind he would have dismissed it as an absurdity.
Next, Alverstoke visits his sister Louisa, and delights her by saying he will give a ball, albeit “with conditions” and that it will take place in three weeks.
“April!  But you cannot have considered!  May is the month for the really tonnish parties!” 
“No, is it really?” he mocked.  “And does it occur to you that May is already overcrowded with balls, routs, and assemblies of every description?” 
“There is that, of course,” she agreed, frowning over it. “But in only three weeks the season will barely have begun!” 
“It will begin, then, at Alverstoke House,” he replied coolly. “And if you imagine, Louisa, that we shall find ourselves thin of company, let me reassure you!”
Lady Buxted is infuriated by his complacency but knows he is right.  However, she is not expecting his Big Reveal, which is that the ball will not be for Jane alone.  Alverstoke explains that Chloe Dauntry will also make her come out at the ball, and tells Louisa that their deceased and distant cousin Fred Merriville left his five children to Alverstoke’s protection.  Stunned, Lady Buxted asks why, and he uses the excuse Frederica provided:
“Well,” said his lordship, succumbing to the promptings of his particular devil, “he thought I was the best of my family.”
Alverstoke makes it clear he will help subsidize the expense of Jane’s entry to the ton if Lady Buxted cooperates by introducing the Merriville young ladies at the ball and securing them vouchers for Almack’s, and when she starts to refuse he implies he will ask Cousin Lucretia to act as hostess for the ball instead, causing Lady Buxted to give in reluctantly.   Two days later, Frederica has an unexpected adventure in Green Park when she takes the family dog, Lufra, for a walk.   Charis is home with a cold and Frederica, having ignored the need for a chaperone, finds herself in difficulty when Lufra charges a group of cows.
Chapter 6

Heyer observes that a lesser woman would have left the dog to his fate but Frederica is afraid the park attendants will impound Lufra or worse.   As the dog’s critics gain momentum, she says in desperation, “Take care!  This dog belongs to the Marquis of Alverstoke.  He is extremely valuable, and if anything were to happen to him his lordship would be very angry indeed!”  One of the park-keepers finds this unconvincing because he says Lufra is obviously a mongrel. In for a penny, out for a pound – Frederica follows her fib about the Marquess by stating that Lufra is pure-bred Barcelona Collie.   No one believes her but when she suggests they go to Alverstoke’s home to ask him, some of her tormentors are willing to bow out.  But the man in charge of the cows at Green Park (don’t ask why) and a hatchet-faced lady refuse to back down so the whole shebang of them head to Berkeley Square where there are no nightingales singing but a nervous footman admits them to Alverstoke House.   He doesn’t know what to make of Frederica or those accompanying her but is luckily rescued by his lordship’s butler Wicken, who knows about the Merrivilles by special servant osmosis (you know Charles hasn’t been gossiping).

Alverstoke, who dresses with elegance but is not a dandy, is tying his neckcloth by dropping his chin into the foot-wide muslin cloth, shows mild surprise when told of Frederica’s visit.  Wicken warns him about the dubious individuals who accompanied her, as well as a very large dog.
“Is there, by God!  I wonder what the deuce –” he broke off.  “Something tells me, Wicken, that danger awaits me in the book-room.” 
“Oh, no, my lord!” said Wicken reassuringly. “It is not, I fancy, a fierce animal.”
Lufra redeems his prior bad behavior by recognizing Alverstoke and bounding affectionately towards him (after a nervous second when the uninvited guests wonder if he’s about to attack).  Frederica quickly tells the Marquis that she will never offer to take his dog out again.  He catches the passed baton and asks for an explanation of what went down.  There is general chaos as everyone tries to explain but the hatchet-faced lady is the loudest and most determined not to be ahem-cowed.  The three men continue to whine about the dog not really being a Barcelona Collie but Alverstoke agrees, and explains that Frederica got it wrong – the dog is actually a Baluchistan Hound.  This saves the men’s pride so they are willing to be paid off by Mr. Trevor but the hatchet-faced lady is of sterner stuff.  Alverstoke won’t put up with her officiousness:
“. . . It appears to me that you have been indulging in a high piece of meddling. If I should be asked to give an account of this interview, I should feel myself bound to state that these men came, very properly, to inform me of my dog’s misdemeanor, and to request that he should be kept under restraint; but as they were accompanied, for whatever reason I know not, by an officious person, wanting in both manner and sense, who took it upon herself to usurp their authority, it was all too long before they were able to lay their complaint before me.”  He glanced towards the open door, where Wicken stood, his countenance graven, and his brain seething with conjecture. “Be so good as to show this lady out!” he said.  “And desire Mr. Trevor to come to me!”
Wicken is even more intimidating than the Marquis so the hatchet-faced lady leaves, raging and humiliated.  The park rangers and cowman slink out to receive largesse.  Frederica hides her laughter in her handkerchief.
This is one of my all-time favorite Heyer chapters, and in addition to providing light relief it serves several purposes: most importantly, it reveals Alverstoke’s sense of humor and ability to handle the unexpected with aplomb.  This impresses Frederica, who, you will recall, found him somewhat arrogant in their first meeting.  In addition, we learn that Alverstoke’s servants have been speculating about the Merrivilles so her unexpected arrival adds grist to the mill.  And, as we will see in the next chapter, this provides the perfect opportunity for Frederica to make the acquaintance of Lady Buxted solo!

  • So, do you like Alverstoke better now?
  • Do those who think Frederica too managing like seeing her at a loss?
  • Is this one of Heyer’s best ensemble chapters?
  • Should Frederica have dragged a housemaid along to chaperone?  It wouldn't have helped her deal with Lufra's behavior but would have sent a message as to her quality.
  • Is Lady Buxted cruising for a bruising?   Does she deserve it for her spiteful and grasping behavior (and, wait, it gets worse)?
  • Should a girl who looks terrible in pastels be allowed to wear pink at her come out? (and keep in mind (a) that it used to be easier to tell a young girl what to wear, and (b) her whole future might depend on the success of this event and, superficial though it may be, she will be judged on her looks and expectations)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Frederica by Georgette Heyer - and the Gunning Sisters

The Gunning sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, are mentioned prominently in Frederica, and their brilliant marriages were an inspiration to various heroines and their mothers – and certainly to many Regency authors.   Frederica tells Lord Alverstoke:
“You see, at Graynard she had as well be buried alive! There isn’t even a watering-place within our reach, so how can she form an eligible connection?  She – she is quite wasted, Lord Alverstoke!  You will understand when you see her, why I felt it to be my duty to bring her out in London!  She is the loveliest girl! She has the sweetest disposition imaginable, too, never cross or crochety, and she deserves to make a splendid marriage!” “I have it on the authority of my secretary that she is a diamond of the first water,” said his lordship dryly. “But splendid marriages, Miss Merriville, in general depend on splendid dowries.” “Not always,” she countered swiftly.   “Only think of the Gunning sisters!  Why, one of them married two Dukes, and I know she wasn’t a great heiress because Papa told me about them, saying Charis beat them both to flinders!” 
Frederica has to be candid with Alverstoke to secure his help but it is not usually very good form to scheme obviously.  You may recall that in Devil’s Cub Mrs. Challoner, who we know was not out of the top drawer, greatly embarrassed Mary by her comments and attitude:
Mrs. Challoner had only the two daughters, and since Mary’s sixteenth birthday her main object in life had been to marry them both suitably as soon as possible.  The signal success once achieved by a certain Irish widow put ideas into her head which her brother thought absurd, but though she admitted that Mary, in spite of her grand education, could scarcely hope to achieve more than a respectable alliance, she could not find that either Maria or Elizabeth Gunning in their prime had outshone her own Sophia.  It was more than twenty years since the Gunning sisters had taken the town by storm, and Mrs. Challoner could not remember ever to have set eyes on either, but she knew several reliable persons who had, and they all assured her that Sophia far transcended the famous beauties.  If Mrs. Gunning, who hadn’t a penny, and was dreadfully Irish as well, could catch an earl and a duke in her matrimonial net, there seemed to be very little reason why Mrs. Challoner, with a respectable jointure, and no common Irish accent, should not do quite as well.  Or if not quite, at least half – for she was not besotted about her daughters, and had made up her mind a long time ago that nothing great could be hoped for Mary. 
The Gunning sisters were born about 1733 and 1734 in England but moved to Ireland with their parents, John Gunning and his wife, the Honorable Bridget Bourke (daughter of the 6th Viscount Mayo).   Some sources state that as young girls they worked in the Dublin theatres to generate much needed income, somehow without losing their reputations.   In 1748, Maria and Elizabeth were invited to a ball at Dublin Castle, an event that changed their fortunes.   Although very young, they were attractive and vivacious, and made such a good impression on the Earl of Harrington, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, that he granted their mother a pension.  Ambitious for her daughters, she used the funds to return to Huntingdonshire (I see lost its county status in 1974 which may be why I am unfamiliar with it), introduced them at local assemblies, and then moved them all to London where the sisters were a huge success, written about in newspapers (in a positive way), presented at court, and widely admired.   In 1752, Elizabeth, the younger sister, had captivated the Duke of Hamilton and they were married (apparently in an irregular but binding ceremony).  
Elizabeth Gunning
Her sister Maria soon married the 6th Earl of Coventry.  This marriage was not happy as her husband was both critical and flagrantly unfaithful.   She remained popular but died tragically at just 27 of lead poisoning, caused by the excessive makeup she used.   Elizabeth was somewhat luckier: her marriage prospered and she had three children but after six years the Duke of Hamilton died.   She remarried quite soon; her second husband inherited his father’s title to become the Duke of Argyll in 1770, and she bore him five children.   She died in 1790, and four of her sons became dukes.
Maria Gunning
I recommend Elizabeth Mahon’s Scandalous Women blog for those who are curious:


The Gunnings died before Frederica was born so she learned of them from her father.  However, Devil’s Cub is set in 1780 so Mrs. Challoner would have been slightly younger than the sisters and doubtless heard stories about them her whole life, which gave her ideas:
“You choose to be hoodwinked, ma’am, but if you will believe he means honestly by my sister, will you not at least consider how far apart are their fortunes?” [posits Mary] “As to that,” replied Mrs. Challoner, preening herself, “I am sure the Challoners are good enough for anyone.  Not that it signifies in the least, for we all know how the Gunnings, who were nobody, married into the nobility.” “They did us a great disservice thereby,” sighed Mary.
 Does Heyer mention the Gunnings in other books besides these two?

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Frederica by Georgette Heyer, Chapters 3 and 4

(continuing the book discussion for the Heyer listserv) 

I agree that the situations of the four women in Alverstoke’s life are different:  Lady Buxted, a widow, definitely wants Alverstoke to pay for Jane’s ball but she probably does want a nicer event than she can afford (even if her son would prefer they pay for it themselves; Lady Jevington would not ask Alverstoke to pay for her daughter’s debut but it is clear she and her husband are very comfortably off; Mrs. Dauntry, another widow (his heir's mother and distant cousin by marriage), is not well off and does need Alverstoke’s help for even a moderate come out (but it is clear Chloe is young to make her curtsey to society and her mother is nearly as spiteful as Lady Buxted (just prettier and more subtle)) – and Frederica wants nothing for herself, just for her sister to make a comfortable match.  Can I just say that we eldest sisters are misunderstood?  All we want is what is best for everyone: is it our fault if we sometimes seem managing?
My back-up copy
Chapter 3 

Although Charles Trevor (who, it is agreed, we all like very much, even if we disagree on other characters) does not dare remind Alverstoke of his pending invitation, Alverstoke decides to visit Upper Wimpole Street.  He notices the house is shabby (can you imagine what it would cost to rent an entire house in London these days?) and is curling his lip when he meets Frederica.   She is about 24, with light brown hair and gray eyes (heroine alert!), and is attractively dressed but not “dashing or expensive.”  She has friendly manners, which Alverstoke, used to toadeaters, finds surprising.   She explains that she had been looking forward introducing her sister to society but discovered her aunt’s family is not sufficiently well connected (in fact, they are in trade).  Instead, she applied to Alverstoke for assistance.

“I am seven-and-thirty, ma’am, said Alverstoke, somewhat acidly, “and I should perhaps inform you that I am never of use to anyone!”

Rallying from this negativity, Frederica asks if he could introduce her to Lady Alverstoke, and eventually learns he is unmarried.  Not to worry, she says, we can contrive.  “We?” he asks ironically, but he is amused by her and his mouth twitches.   Frederica explains to him that her father died a year before and she knows they are distantly related, so would like him to introduce her sister Charis (and Frederica herself) to the ton.  She realizes that it is more customary for a suitable matron to provide such entrĂ©e but most creatively suggests they pretend Alverstoke is their guardian.   While Alverstoke recovers his breath, she tells him her family was happy although not affluent, and consists of her, Harry, Charis, Jessamy, and Felix, as well as their maternal aunt Seraphina, who is their chaperone.  She explains that she and Charis will have a dowry of £5000 and she wants Charis to make a good match like the Gunning sisters. She rented the family estate in Herefordshire and moved everyone but her brother Harry (at Oxford) to London.  Alverstoke politely tells her she is being too ambitious and might have better luck at in Bath or Tunbridge Wells where she and Charis could aspire to a lesser tier of society.

Chapter 4

Fortunately for the Merrivilles, Frederica and Alverstoke are interrupted by her younger siblings, the rambunctious Felix, serious Jessamy, and their irrepressible dog Lufra.   Felix immediately describes their unsuccessful outing to see a locomotive and, emboldened by Alverstoke’s response, goes into great detail about his mechanical interests and then Jessamy, who prefers horses, asks many questions about the Marquis’ stable.   Alverstoke participates in the conversation, to his own amazement, but is about to make his escape when Charis and her aunt arrive.  She is even more beautiful than he had expected and he is impressed.
  
[Her] words were spoken in a soft, placid voice; and the Marquis, under whose critical eyes the beauties of many season had passed, noted with approval that this one, the most stunning he had yet beheld, used no arts to attract, but, on the contrary seemed to be unconscious of her chares.  As one who had figured for years as the most brilliant catch on the Matrimonial Market, he was accustomed to meet with every artifice designed to ensnare him; and it was with approbation that he recognized the younger Miss Merriville’s unconcern.
March 1818 Ball Dresses, Ladies' Monthly Museum
When Alverstoke and Frederica are left alone, he contemplates an idea before making up his mind.   Then he tells her he plans to host a ball for one of his nieces and will include her and Charis, and that they will be presented by his sister.  Frederica, delighted, laughingly says how fortunate that Charis came home just in time to change his mind, and he agrees.   Astutely, Frederica points out that his sister may not like it if Charis’ beauty casts the niece into the shade (it is obvious no one would) but he just smiles.  He does not tell her the real reason for his change of heart but makes it clear he has not fallen in love with Charis.  Then they try to come up with a an ostensible reason why he would assist barely-known relations, and Frederica suggests he imply he was under an obligation to her father.

Curious about the household, Alverstoke asks her why her brothers aren’t at boarding school and she explains they have had tutors but the tutors eventually fall in love with Charis and have to be dismissed.  She says jokingly he could find a tutor if he is taking on family responsibility but he declines.   Still, Alverstoke is waylaid by Felix on his way out and finds himself agreeing to take Felix to visit a foundry in Soho.

Thus, by the end of Chapter 4, Alverstoke has agreed to sponsor the Merrivilles basically to punish Lady Buxted for her demands on him (be careful what you wish for, Louisa!).  Can you blame him?

Although Frederica and Alverstoke have easy and very candid conversation, she finds him too haughty, and “his eyes were cold, and unpleasantly cynical.”  Yet he is about to do her an enormous favor.   Is she too critical? 

As I said before, the Merrivilles are one of Heyer’s happy families.  Yes, Frederica is masterful but she lost her mother at a young age and had to assume control of the family finances to prevent her father from reducing the family to penury.  Even the trip to London was financed by cleverly renting out Graynard.   Can’t you give her credit for managing the family so advantageously?   She gets little help from her brother or aunt.

So, who wants to attend the ball at Alverstoke House?

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven - and Giveaway

Title: The Exact Opposite of Okay (Izzy O’Neill #1) 
Author:  Laura Steven
Publication: Harper Collins, hardcover, June 2019
Genre: Young Adult
Plot: Eighteen year old Izzy O’Neill knows exactly who she is — a loyal friend, an
aspiring comedian, and a person who believes that milk shakes and Reese’s peanut butter cups are major food groups. But after she’s caught in a compromising position with the son of a politician, it seems like everyone around her is eager to give her a new label: slut.

Izzy is certain that the whole thing will blow over and she can get back to worrying about how she doesn’t reciprocate her best friend Danny’s feelings for her and wondering how she is ever going to find a way out of their small town. Only it doesn’t.

And while she’s used to laughing her way out of any situation, as she finds herself first the center of high school gossip and then in the middle of a national scandal, it's hard even for her to find humor in the situation.

Izzy may be determined not to let anyone else define who she is, but that proves easier said than done when it seems like everyone has something to say about her.

Favorite Quotes: I’ve always liked Mrs. Crannon, but in a Stockholm syndrome sort of way.  I mean, do any of us really like our teachers?

But still.  We’re all doomed to a limited number of sun orbits before we finally kick the bucket and end up in the same infinite hell as Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler.  Perhaps I’m overthinking it, but what we do between now and then barely seems worth getting out of bed for.
Maybe I’m being melodramatic.  I just really hate getting out of bed.

Every time I catch myself moping about my general lack of parents, or our dire financial situation, I just remind myself how lucky I am to be raised by such an incredible human being who’s always taught me how to laugh, no matter what’s going wrong in my life.

I smile.  I know what’s about to happen.  When one of us is scared to do something for fear of rejection, this is how we talk each other around it.  By asking “so what?” and forcing ourselves to justify the fear, we soon realize there’s rarely anything to actually be afraid of.

Maybe the fact that we’re so comfortable around each other, to the extent I often FaceTime him from the toilet, is actually a sign we’re soulmates.  It’s not exactly how I imagined my first great romance would unfold, but is it really realistic to expect an epic Notebook-style love story in this day and age?
How doth one know that one doth be in love? [I’m unconvinced by the accuracy of my “doth” usage in this sentence, but am leaving it in for authenticity.]

What am I supposed to do now? [I am asking this purely rhetorically.  I almost never follow the advice of others due to my insane stubbornness.]

Slut-shaming: in which a woman is labeled a “slut” or “whore” for enjoying sex (or even just looking like they might) and is subsequently punished socially.
Interestingly, only girls and women are called to task for their sexuality; boys and me are congratulated for the exact same behavior.  This is the essence of the sexual double standard: boys will be boys, and girls will be sluts.

My Thoughts: This is a funny and poignant book about a girl who is the victim of a double standard.  Admittedly, Izzy makes very poor choices and it is hard to watch her sabotaging herself.  As a smart but poor orphan, she would be a good candidate for scholarships but she pays no attention in class.   She has sex to feel good but doesn’t take basic precautions to ensure privacy.  Her grandmother, also a rebel, is not savvy enough to protect Izzy from her own mistakes, unlike the parents of her peers.   Izzy has two good friends but miscalculates those relationships too.   All her quips (and she is extremely funny) are insufficient to save her from disaster.  The real lesson of the book is that the world is unforgiving to women and the steps necessary to safeguard oneself are not required of men.

Giveaway: Enter here for the chance to win one of two copies of The Exact Opposite of Okay between June 5 and 19, 2019 (US only).

About the Author: Laura Steven, author, journalist and screenwriter, lives in England. The Exact Opposite of Okay, her YA debut, was first published by Egmont in March 2018. The sequel, A Girl Called Shameless, will be published later in 2019.
Off the Blog: My nephew graduated from sixth grade today – he looked very sweet as valedictorian!

Source: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for review purposes. Please visit other stops on the tour and read the reviews by clicking here.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Frederica by Georgette Heyer, Chapters 1 and 2

Welcome to the June discussion of Frederica for the Almacks listserv (which anyone can join via Yahoo Groups), which I will also share on this blog.  Published in 1965, Frederica has been one of my favorite Heyers since I first read it at age 14 or so.   Somehow I even own one of the library copies that visited my mother and me frequently – it is a Dutton hardcover with the classic Barbosa cover that shows Felix’s famous balloon expedition.   But I get ahead of myself!


What makes Frederica so appealing?   I think it is a combination of several things: first of all, while it has a fairly large cast of characters, they are extremely well developed and it is easy to become fond of them (the Merrivilles are one of Heyer’s happy families, despite having lost their parents); second, most regency readers by the time they get to Frederica are familiar with and entertained by the theme of young women coming to London to seek a husband; third, as we will soon see, when Alverstoke decides to sponsor these respectable but obscure cousins he thinks he is playing a joke on his sisters and the ton but surprises himself by becoming emotionally involved with this family, so the joke is on him; and fourth, it is very funny.
Chapter One

Vernon Dauntry, the Marquis of Alverstoke, is rich and so indulged that he is often bored.   His sisters think he is selfish because he is not interested in their offspring or in being obliging – to them.   In particular, his middle sister, the disagreeable Lady Buxted, tells him she is bringing out her eldest daughter this season and asks him to hold a ball at Alverstoke House in Jane’s honor.   She has a perfectly good home of her own but her brother’s house is more impressive and she is also hoping he will pay all the related expenses.   Alverstoke declines, not very gently, which upsets his sister (and his niece, once she finds out).   Lady Buxted says bitterly that she is sure he would have agreed had the ball been for his heir, their cousin Endymion Dauntry.  She and their sister Lady Jevington resent Endymion, a pleasant if not very bright military officer, and have spent a lot of time unsuccessfully trying to find their brother a suitable bride so Endymion will not inherit the title.

Chapter Two

Alverstoke is even bored by his mistress, who offends him not only by greedily demanding cream-colored horses to draw her barouche but also by drenching her written demand in ambergris (now that I am reminded it comes from whale sperm I am revolted too).  He tells Charles Trevor, his serious but delightful male secretary, to pay her off.  This is good timing because Alverstoke will soon meet his distant cousins, the Merrivilles, who have just arrived in London so he won’t have time for “a nice bit of game.”  While he was visiting his sister, Miss Frederica Merriville and her beautiful sister Charis stopped by with a note and asked Charles if the Marquis could call on them at Upper Wimpole Street.  Alverstoke is dubious of their relationship claim until he remembers a cousin by that name who was a bon vivant.  That does not motivate him to make the acquaintance of these ladies, although Charles is rhapsodic:
Mr. Trevor seemed to find it difficult to express himself; but after a pause, during which he obviously conjured up a heavenly vision, he said earnestly: “Sir, I have never before seen, or – or even dreamed of such a lovely girl!  Her eyes!  So big, and of such a blue!  Her hair!  Like shining gold! The prettiest little nose, too, and her complexion quite exquisite! And when she spoke -” 
“But what were her ankles like?” interrupted his lordship.
On second thought, Charles wonders if Charis might be better off not meeting Alverstoke, lest he break her heart.  He knows Alverstoke would not seduce a respectable girl but he guesses that Charis is inexperienced and might misunderstand the rules of flirtation. 

In the meantime, Lady Buxted calls on him with her daughter to beg again for a ball for Jane.  Then Endymion’s mother, another widow, Lucretia Dauntry, hears that Jane might be getting a ball and comes to Alverstoke House to ask if her daughter Chloe, just 17, could share Jane’s come out (she points out oh-so-innocently that her pretty daughter would cast poor Jane into the shade).  He says no to her too.   Finally, his older sister, Lady Jevington, stops by to order him not to give in to Lady Buxted or Mrs. Dauntry, or she will wash her hands of him!  Alverstoke says that almost persuades him to do it.   Once she has departed in ire, he says to Charles, “And now . . .it only remains for your protegee to demand a ball of me!!”

Coming in Chapter 3, we will meet the Merrivilles!

In the meantime, here are some thoughts to begin our discussion:

Boredom is not an attractive quality but Alverstoke also possesses a highly developed sense of humor.   Is this appealing or would you rather have a sexy hero like Damerel?   Can a sense of humor be sexy?

Should someone who is rich endlessly support his relatives?   Does Lady Buxted have a real grievance?   After all, her brother only inherited Alverstoke House (and who knows what else outside of London) because he’s male, and it was her childhood home too.  Down with primogeniture! (except in fiction)

Do you enjoy Heyer’s stage setting here or would you prefer that Frederica make an earlier appearance?   How does this compare to the beginning of Cotillion where Kitty also ends up making her bow to society?

Frederica and Charis were lucky that they happened to run into Charles Trevor because he is one of the few people Alverstoke trusts.  Would Alverstoke have ever bothered to visit them without Charles’ intervention?  

and

Wimpole Street has several literary/artistic connections – I remembered Elizabeth Barrett Browning (perhaps because my friend Nicky walked me by her house two years ago) but was surprised by Paul McCartney!