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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Beauvallet


***½ Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer. Historical fiction.









I got this book courtesy of a friend who was appalled to hear that I'd never read Heyer. She sent me a good half-dozen, and this is, I believe, the 3rd of them I've read.

Nicholas Beauvallet is a pirate--oh, okay, an English "privateer". He captures a Spanish ship that just happens to have the beautiful
Doña Dominica aboard with her father. Her father is ill, and he promises to return them to Spain and then to come for her in a year to make her his bride.

I've called this "historical fiction" rather than "historical romance," because despite Heyer's reputation, there's really not much romance about it--or rather, there's nothing of falling in love about it.

Apparently, Nick likes the way Dominica looks, and she loathes him, which apparently means she's madly in love with him. I've never been fond of that sort of plot, probably because I just don't understand the emotions behind it. Mostly, in my life, if I've loathed someone, I pretty much continue loathing them. Or, to be honest, loathing takes an awful lot of energy, so unless there's a reason for me to actively loathe them, I settle down to a sort of bored dislike. It's not like there've been all that many.

Then too, I don't know anyone who hated their significant other before they fell in love. Found them annoying or irritating maybe, or not their type, but never really hated them.

So there's that. And making it worse is the fact that we don't see any actual love growing between them. Nick wants her, he vows to have her, he moves heaven and earth to get her. Dominica goes from not wanting anything to do with him to worrying that he's forgotten about her. But on both sides, it's vastly more about possession than love, even more than lust or attraction.

The swashbuckling-ness, though, is quite a lot of fun. Heyer does really have a genius for writing in the style of the era in which the book is set, and this Elizabethan-set tale is full of older words, slang, figures of speech, and constructions--the way sentences are put together. It really helps to immerse you in the setting.

Nick's determination and drive and audacity were exciting, and he made a wonderful pirate hero--I could definitely see this as an old swashbuckling movie, probably starring Errol Flynn.

Unfortunately, I couldn't really say the same for Dominica. She was really unlikeable--for me, anyway. I keep getting the feeling that she's supposed to be like one of the "heroines" of those old movies--no real personality, just a pretty ornament to give the hero something to chase after. She acts angry to show she has "spunk", and that's pretty much the extent of her character. That's the conclusion I came to, and why I didn't like her, and what kept the book from being a great read for me.

Maybe I've misunderstood her. If you have a different take on her, please let me know.


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Comments:
You know...I haven't ever read Heyer either! I am getting a couple soon to read though! Now I just need to make time to fit them into the schedule!
 
I know what you mean. It seems every time I turn around, somebody's telling me about some "must read" books that are new to me, and I look at my TBR pile and wonder how on earth I'll ever get to read them all.

Amazon loves me, though. :)
 
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