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5.24.2009

Review: Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer

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Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer
Historical Romance, Regency, Gothic
Trade Paperback (SOURCEBOOKS CASABLANCA, 384 pages, $13.99)
ISBN# 1402217684
Kate, in dire circumstances, is surprised to receive an invitation to live with a distant aunt. Her aunt, uncle, and cousin welcome her to their estate, buy her new clothes, and provide all the amenities a Young lady of quality should have. Slowly, however, as strange events unfold, Kate begins to realize that her aunt's apparent benevolence hides an ulterior motive. To assure succession of the title, her aunt intends Kate to marry her cousin Torquil, until his increasingly bizarre behavior culminates in violence and tragedy. A compelling tale exploring mental illness in the Regency period.
Author Site:
www.georgette-heyer.com (unofficial)


Gothic Romance for the Regency fan. (5 stars)

Fate and circumstance have seen fit to place Kate Malvern in such unforseen dire financial straights that she hardly has a place in the world. Having been dismissed from her position as a governess Kate finds herself on the doorstep of Sarah Nidd, the nurse who cared for her during her youth. Fortunate to have the kindness of Mrs. Nidd and her husband, but bound and determined not to impose upon them, she hopes to find a new situation even if it be something as lowly as becoming lady's personal servant. But dear Sarah won't hear of it and upon finding out that Kate does have a well-to-do aunt, however distant their relation, she takes it upon herself to send word to the woman of young Kate's troubles.

When Lady Broome, Kate's aunt Minerva, comes to meet her neice she is most insistent that she come to Staplewood at least for the summer. Unable to successfully turn down her aunt's kind offer Kate finds herself wisked off to the country estate. Here she meets her sickly cousin Torquil and Sir Timothy his ailing father. But the longer she stays at Staplewood the more she finds her aunt's kindness and generosity to be stifling, while Torquil's health and behavior become more disturbing. His paranoia over the presence of Sir Timothy's nephew, Philip, and his obsessive infatuation with Kate seem to be encouraged by his mother. Meanwhile, Kate's letters to Sarah have gone unanswered and she worries she may be trapped at Staplewood but could her aunt Minerva be behind the lack of reply?

Before I say a word on the book's content I must admit that I am not a fan of Regency period fiction. That aside I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It was dark and moody, hinting at dangers that never came and weaving a web of suspense that made it hard to put down. If you're familiar with the characteristics of true Gothic literature this novel is a fine example of the genre. Combined with the well plotted Regency romance Heyer is known for the constrasting terror-inducing circumstances that surround Kate, coupled with the heroic presence of Philip are sure to please most Gothic romance lovers.

Kate is truly likable, playing the role of persecuted maiden with a sweetness and naivety that make her an endearing heroine rather than the annoying 'too-stupid-to-live' types we sometimes see in tales of terror. While she certainly does not wish to marry Torquil she sees him as a beautiful, tortured young man whom she must mollify, protect and speak-up-for. The caring relationship she develops with her uncle, Sir Timothy, is especially interesting in contrast to the wary one she has with her aunt. It is the subtle romantic feelings she develops for Philip, however, that bring the story to a climactic head.

Exciting and interesting from harrowing start to dramatic finish, Georgette Heyer's Cousin Kate was a delightfully dark and sinfully satisfying read.

2 comments:

Catonya said...

Found my way here through your Amazon profile - wanted to say a big big THANK YOU for your lists and guides!

Rhi said...

Thank you Catonya, I do try to be as helpful over there as I can be. Your appreciation is appreciated. :)

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