Sir Horace Stanton-Lacy steamrollers his sister into agreeing to keep his little Sophia while he is abroad in Brazil without warning her to the full extent that Sophy has earned her nickname of The Grand Sophy, simply making fond, parental clucking noises and then blowing out the door for distant points of the globe. So the Ombersley family has no idea what a force to be reckoned with they are about to encounter. Cousin Charles has become the nominal head of the family since he has dragged his father out of the River Tick, leaving his uncle as a mostly ineffectual figurehead. Charles has also gotten engaged to a woman who is as staid and uptight as it is possible to be, without a stick of fun or amusement in her. The rest of the family has resigned themselves to having Charles marry her but Sophy is convinced she can show him the error of his ways and get his dreadful fiance to be the one to cry off their engagement as well. As if that weren't enough maneuvering for one miss, she also has a plan to seperate her cousin Cecelia from the ineffectual, mooning poet over whom Cecelia's gotten her petticoats in a knot. Despite all of these plans, the vast majority of the family feels Sophy is a breath of fresh air, with only Charles being frustrated and flying into tantrums over her interferences, at least until he recognizes her for the wonder she is (and even then she frustrates him beyond all expression). Sophy's tactics and maneuverings throughout the novel would have made Wellington proud. She is a skilled manipulator and bends people to her will despite their misgivings. While this makes her sound less than appealing as a character, she's actually charming and fun and out to make life better for everyone around her so she can be forgiven for manipulating things a bit.
Heyer has written a completely and totally delightful heroine in Sophy. Her actions and misdeeds actually make the reader chuckle and root for her ultimate successes. Charles alternates between exasperation and fondness for Sophy and his character sets hers off quite well. Aunt Ombersley is silly and over the top but quite fun as she dithers and dilly-dallies, allowing Sophy to run the show. There is almost a caperish feel to some of the misadventures in here but they add to the rollicking good atmosphere. Zany and sparkling, this is the Heyer who earns such kudos and raves from all and sundry. And having tasted this one, I am eager to read more.
This post is a part of the Georgette Heyer Tour for the Classics Circuit in March. Check the website for other tour stops throughout the month.