Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Faro’s Daughter by Georgette Heyer

1971 edition

1971 edition

Unlike most of the other Book Foxes, I had never read Georgette Heyer before we planned this week. Though Founder Fox Leena had been recommending her books for years and it was she who suggested I do this novel for our theme week. “Faro? What is faro?” I asked myself, thinking maybe the setting was Ancient Egypt with different spelling. But faro is a card game and one our hero,Deb, who is one of those spunky women so beloved by romance novelists, is an expert in.
Deb is a card dealer in a higher class gaming house run by her widowed aunt, Lady Bellingham, who has fallen on hard times. Her beauty and vivaciousness has attracted several would be suitors. Adrian is a wealthy young man who is soon to come into an inheritance and follows Deb with puppyish devotion. Lord Ormskirk is an older wealthy man whom her aunt is indebted to, considering he holds the mortgage to the house, as well as some other outstanding bills. Evidently in Regency times, banks weren’t the only ones who could foreclose on one’s home, which is a scary thought. He is looking for a third wife to oversee his home and children. Deb keeps the men at arm’s length, even as her aunt laments that they must do something to be able to afford green peas for their dinners.
Adrian’s mother, desperate to prevent her son marrying a “vulgar” “honey-pot”, enlists her nephew, Max Ravenscar, to intervene. Along with the superb name, conveying danger and mystery, Ravenscar is appropriately handsome and wealthy. Reluctantly, he agrees to look into the situation to see what he can do. Of course, upon meeting Deb, all of his preconceptions are shattered. Because they dislike each other so much, they embark upon a series of actions intended to outwit each other with some unintended consequences. And after a number of misunderstandings and thwarted plans, well, you can guess how they feel about each other by the end of the story.
Leena told me this was the perfect romantic comedy and it is; snappy dialogue, some genuinely surprising moments and likable characters. Deb is no bimbo, continually swooning, but considers herself the equal to any man and is well able to match wits with them. She is not naive, but not bitterly cynical. She’s actually quite modern, which is remarkable for a novel published in 1941. Ravenscar is a bit more conventional, with his steely gaze, but is never condescending or dismissive of any of the women in his life.
Heyer’s writing is well done, even the secondary characters, such as servants and acquaintances, are distinctly drawn. I was fascinated with her ability to describe a room or outfit with enough words to make it vivid, yet not in tedious detail. That seemed a particular skill. All in all, this book, which I liked better than expected, was a great introduction to the author and I am thinking of sampling some of her others. Belatedly, I finally understand the appeal of Georgette Heyer.

Sourcebooks, Inc. 2008 (orig. 1941) 285 pp. ISBN-13:978-1-4022-1352-6

10 comments on “Faro’s Daughter by Georgette Heyer

  1. Kate
    November 18, 2014

    Hurray! I’m so glad you liked this one, Jackie, it is a very good one. I go back to it for the interior decoration details, and Deb’s outrageous cocquelicot (cherry-coloured) ribbons.

  2. damaskcat
    November 18, 2014

    One of my favourites. Just love the dialogue.

  3. Stranger
    November 18, 2014

    Finding a Heyer romance my first week of college changed my reading habits entirely. I still have that first paperback, 45 years later, on my book shelf. It started me on a literary search that took me to Jane Austen, the Napoleonic Wars, Architecture and English Garden designs, and a fascination with a hundred other tangents just a mention in her books could bounce me off to.

    It also took me into my first great love and thru the loss of it years later. I found myself stronger than I thought and much more optimistic without being unrealistic. Georgette Heyer had a remarkable respect for strong women, honest but jaded men and the enternal hope for a loving partnership that would last a lifetime; and the possibility of the second chance at it.

    She never gave up on love, but she also never gave in on her heroines. My personal favorite was Devil’s Cub and I was delighted to discover it was part of a series. I still recommend it as a starting point to her work.

    While her mysteries never caught me, her writing still entertains and distracts me. Sadly, I don’t think there’s been but one movie made from her works, but I always thought they could be every bit as good as some of the cheesie Austen knock offs we’ve been served.

    Thank you for bouncing me again…. now that I’ve just finished all of the Dumas Musketeer novels for the second time (at least) perhaps it’s time to toddle down Heyer lane again and re-explore those lush landscapes again.


  4. sema4dogz
    November 19, 2014

    I think cocquelicot coloured is poppy coloured isn’t it? Even more outrageous!

  5. Leena
    November 19, 2014

    So relieved you enjoyed it, Jackie – and glad to hear that you’re considering reading more Heyer! 🙂 I agree that she has a remarkable skill for lively descriptions.

    How interesting that this one was written during the war – I never realised it. Gives a slightly different slant to the lush materiality of the novel, doesn’t it.

  6. Sue Williams
    November 19, 2014

    Wow, I have never even heard of Georgette Heyer. Myst be the look of the book jacket. I believe I had let go of all romance novels by then. Stomped on them and told them science fiction was more believable. This is why I would not have read her. Now maybe I would. Not sure, I think I need to read a hard scifi book with one faction expecting the enemy attack. I am always the winner.

  7. Lori Dowell Helms
    November 20, 2014

    Faro’s Daughter is not the Heyer I would recommend for a first-timer, but I have always enjoyed re-reading it now and again. It falls somewhere in the middle of my rankings, perhaps upper middle. Very nice review.

  8. Kate
    November 20, 2014

    oops, yes, poppy, not cherry. But it’s still a blatant, blazing red!

  9. sema4dogz
    November 20, 2014

    I have always fancied being able to say – oh yes, I think I will wear my gown with the grass-green stripes and the coquelicot ribbons.

    Sue above – do give Georgette Heyer a go, you will be surprised. Nothing at all like the run of the mill (hah did you see what I did there – Mills and Boone…) romance.
    GH is very funny, deftly plotted and most engagingly written and the romance is always palatable. Faro’s Daughter is one of my favourites, but I can see that something like Cotillion with the best and nicest hero of all, Freddy, might be a good place to start

  10. Pingback: Devil’s Cub – Georgette Heyer | The Captive Reader

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