The Talisman Ring

“I thought it too good to be true,” said Miss Thane. “If there is one thing above all others I have wanted in my life to do it is to search for a secret panel! I suppose,” she added hopefully, “it would be too much to expect to find an underground passage leading from the secret panel?”

About two weeks ago I went to a talk at the library entitled “Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy, Georgette Heyer’s Lord Worth, and the Scrappy Heroine of the Modern Relationship Novel.” I missed the beginning, but basically the speaker suggested that in their works Austen and Heyer set a template for romance between a strong, silent hero and a strong spunky heroine, with plenty of snappy dialogue. The rest focused on modern books where this pattern occurs, as well as other Regency novels.

Of course this put me in the mood for some Georgette Heyer, and finding Regency Buck checked out (source of Lord Worth), I settled for The Talisman Ring.

Before Lord Lavenham dies he forces a betrothal between descendants Sir Tristram Shield and Eustacie. But Eustacie prefers adventure, so she runs away straight into a gang of smugglers–including disguised heir Ludovic Lavenham, wanted for a murder he didn’t commit. The only way for Ludovic to clear his name, claim his title, and win Eustacie is to find the ring that was taken from the body. Enter Miss Sarah Thane, whose quick intellect and love of adventure make her the perfect chaperone. Together the four must recover the ring, but they have no idea of the trouble in store for them.

I think The Talisman Ring is my favorite Georgette Heyer novel yet! It has romance, adventure, mystery, comedy, and smugglers. I’ve a weakness for the profession ever since Jane Aiken Hodge’s Watch the Wall, My Darling. As usual, Heyer’s witty dialogue just sparkles; I am amazed at her talent for expressing both character and humor. Take this scene where Eustacie fantasizes about what would have happened if she had remained in France during the revolution:

“I should be very sorry for anyone in a tumbril, whatever their age or sex or apparel,” interupted Sir Tristram.

“You would be more sorry for a young girl–all alone, perhaps bound,” said Eustacie positively.

“You wouldn’t be all alone. There would be a great many other people in the tumbril with you,’ said Sir Tristram.

Eustacie eyed him with considerable displeasure. “In my tumbril there would not have been a great many other people,” she said.

She establishes early on the contrast between Eustacie’s romantic temperament and and Tristram’s practicality. Many novels would have then made chemistry overcome these differences (as Heyer herself does elsewhere), but I like they fact that they recognize their unsuitability while still gradually becoming friends. The best dialogue has to belong to Sarah, however. I’m never sure whether she is naively blunt or intentionally ironic, though I suspect the latter. In any case I laughed aloud many times throughout the book.

Sarah and especially Eustacie have a great thirst for excitement and adventure, getting most of their ideas from novels (Radcliffe is mentioned). It almost reminded me of Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey, except here the adventure is delightfully real. It’s enough to make me wish for some excitement of my own to come along!

Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 1:25 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer: Smugglers, murder, and an endless supply of banter. Fun all around. […]

  2. […] I attended the talk on the Regency template last fall, one of the books mentioned was An Accomplished Woman, by Jude Morgan. I must say it fits […]

  3. […] I received several this past Christmas. I chose Regency Buck because it had been the topic of a talk I went to last […]

  4. […] had a love affair during this time period, possibly with a reverend. I also have an inexplicable weakness for smugglers, maybe because it reminds me of Robin […]

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