I am a huge fan of Georgette Heyer’s regency romances. I have read a lot of her books, but had not managed to read this one, published in 1944.
The wild young Viscount Sheringham is fast running through his considerable income through gambling and other extravagant pursuits; and he cannot as yet touch the principal, unless he marries. As the lady with whom he currently fancies himself in love, the beautiful Isabella Milborne, is also an heiress, he proposes.
Isabella rejects him, citing his dissipated lifestyle. A lively quarrel then follows with his obnoxious widowed mother and her brother, who wish to retain control of his father’s fortune themselves. The Viscount storms off in a fit of pique, vowing to marry the first female he meets.
This turns out to be the pretty but orphaned and shy Hero Wantage, who has secretly loved him since they were children, and who now lives with one of his neighbours in the position of Cinderella, complete with Ugly Sisters. (Plot summary provided by wikipedia).
In my mind, Georgette Heyer is second only to Jane Austen for precisely and beautifully written romances, and Friday’s Child is no exception. The two main characters are completely adorable in a fuzzy duckling sort of a way. Hero is a sweetly innocent girl who adores Sherry in a way that is not entirely to his benefit. Sherry is protectively elder brotherly until he realizes that he has fallen completely in love with his wife.
The side-plot involving the Incomparable Isabella and Lord Wrotham is also wonderful. Isabella is everything that Hero is not: well-bred and elegant. Unlike Hero, Isabella understands polite society and is able to navigate the demands of the ton nearly effortlessly. Hero, on the other hand, continually finds herself wrapped up in scrapes involving people who are not-quite-part of the high society in which Sherry moves.
At the time of the marriage, Sherry does not intend to change his behavior at all. He is generally a goodhearted young man though, and he rescues Hero time and again when she finds herself doing the wrong thing. Eventually, things come to a head and Hero flees from him, assisted by some of his friends who have become very fond of her, and who are determined to snap Sherry out of his complacent treatment of Hero.
This book is absolutely vintage Heyer. It is very witty, and the characterizations are fantastic. Hero and Sherry are both simply wonderful, and the supporting characters are also delightful, particularly Sherry’s friends. It is quite chaste, and Heyer doesn’t clue the reader into whether or not the marriage has actually even been consummated prior to the ending. The book peaks with a number of sweetly funny scenes in Bath. The two primary couples in the book both end up with the requisite HEA.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Other books by Heyer that I have equally adored include The Grand Sophy, Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle, and Frederica.