Georgette Heyer had a handful of unforgettable heroines, of which Arabella is one of the most engaging.
Daughter of a modest country clergyman, Arabella Tallant is on her way to London when her carriage breaks down outside the hunting lodge of the wealthy Mr. Robert Beaumaris. Her pride stung when she overhears a remark of her host's, Arabella pretends to be an heiress, a pretense that deeply amuses the jaded Beau. To counter her white lie, Beaumaris launches her into high society and thereby subjects her to all kinds of fortune hunters and other embarrassments.
When compassionate Arabella rescues such unfortunate creatures as a mistreated chimney sweep and a mixed-breed mongrel, she foists them upon Beaumaris, who finds he rather enjoys the role of rescuer and is soon given the opportunity to prove his worth in the person of Arabella's impetuous young brother...
Library Queue Patricia Seguine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Arabella is one of nine children, the daughter of a country vicar in rural Yorkshire. While she is certainly well-bred, she has virtually no money to her name. Her mother sends her to London to live with her godmother in the hopes that her beautiful face will capture the fancy of a wealthy bachelor who can help set Arabella and her sisters up for the rest of their lives. But Arabella's impulsive and impetuous nature, coupled with her naivete, put her in a predicament that makes her wonder whether she will ever find the right man to marry.
This Regency romance novel had humor in spades. Arabella's antics cracked me up. I also got really excited about the romance in this book. Not because I didn't know who Arabella was going to end up with. But the WAY that she ended up with him was really clever. This book has some unexpected plot twists that kept me enchanted with the story. And while the beginning of the novel went on for far too long for my taste, this is probably my favorite Heyer yet.
HistoricalNovels.info Margaret Donsbach
Arabella, the heroine of this compulsively readable Regency romance, is the daughter of a kindly but stern North Country vicar in straitened circumstances. Dazzled by her good fortune when a distant godmother offers her a London season, she is further stunned by the beauty and expense of the gowns, bonnets, muffs and furbelows necessary for the enterprise. She knows her season is not an indulgence but a family responsibility which, despite her sense of guilty pleasure, she takes seriously. She must attract a husband wealthy enough to dower and establish in suitable occupations her seven younger siblings.
On the way to London, her borrowed carriage breaks down near the hunting lodge of the most wealthy - and resistant - bachelor of the smart set. Arabella's besetting flaw is her tendency to impulsive speech when roused into a temper. It gets her in more trouble than usual this time. Snubbing the much-sought-after Mr. Beaumaris, she claims to be an heiress with no interest in marrying money. In short order, she finds herself the toast of the season, ardently courted by impoverished aristocrats and too embarrassed by her deceit to say yes to more eligible suitors.
Quick-witted but inexperienced, Arabella struggles in vain to undo the consequences of her misbehavior as complications mount, forcing readers to wait until the very last minute for the unmitigated happy ending that must, according to the rules of Romance, be coming. Beaumaris's cultured manner masks a mischievous streak that makes him a perfect match for Arabella - if only they can untangle the misunderstandings before the season ends and she must go home to confess her failure.
More humorous than sexy, the novel touches lightly on its hero's physical appeal, playing up his social desirability, charm and essential goodness. Along the way, it offers a sharp critique of a society that valued status-seeking and conspicuous displays of wealth over compassion. (originally published 1949; new Sourcebooks edition 2009, 312 pages)
Genre Reviews Debbie White
Arabella is an enjoyable Regency romance. The book had similarities to Frederica: a charming heroine whose open innocence induces a jaded rich and popular fellow to think of others beyond himself. I liked Frederica a little better, but I certainly enjoyed Arabella, too.
The characters were engaging. Their antics were amusing, and the romance was delightful and built slowly. The historical information was interesting and skillfully woven into the action of the story. The pacing was excellent.
A large number of characters were introduced at the beginning, but their relationships to each other were clear and I was able to quickly sort them all out. Also, there were a small number of French words used. I don't know French, but I had no trouble following what was going on.
There was a very minor amount of swearing. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this novel as well-written, clean fun.
The Burton Review Marie Burton
Georgette Heyer is a prolific writer of Regency fiction, writing both romances and mysteries with some historical novels also thrown in. Out of the few Regency style novels of Heyer's that I have read so far, Arabella is my absolute favorite. I was completely wrapped up in the story from the very beginning as I was sucked in by Heyer's seemingly unending witty and charming writing style. I feel like I read this book at the most opportune time for me where I needed a light-hearted but not silly and redundant romance. The story of Arabella was a charm in itself that I would be happy to re-read it in the future.
The main protagonist is Arabella who is the eldest daughter among a merchant family and is sent off to London to her godmother to be put out on the town for all the socialites to see. The goal is for Arabella to make a suitably wealthy marriage match which would in turn open doors for the rest of her siblings. Quite to the contrary, Arabella disturbs these chances when she meets the most eligible bachelor in town, Mr. Robert Beaumaris, the epitome of the male fashion in England. Not having a clue as to who he is or what his status is as the veritable nonpareil, the rookie Arabella is provoked into telling a silly white lie that she herself is a wealthy heiress.. and the Heyer madness begins!
Robert of course is intrigued by Arabella's innocent nature and is not fooled for a moment by her little charade, but indeed helps to spin it into web that is quickly out of control of Arabella's naive hands. Her aunt has no idea why so many bachelors have thus come to court Arabella, and it is quickly apparent that everyone in town believes Arabella to be the wealthy heiress that she is definitely not.
One of the endearing scenes features Arabella taking pity on a young chimney sweep who was being misused by old Grimsby. The moment Arabella meets the boy she cleans him up and foists him on Robert to give him a proper life, much to the chagrin of Robert's friend, Fleetwood:
'It ain't that I'm a coward!' protested his lordship. 'But we shall have all the fools in London staring after us! I can't think what's come over you, Robert! You're never going to keep this brat in Mount Street! If it leaks out, and it's bound to, I suppose you know everyone will think it's a by-blow of yours?'
'The possibility had crossed my mind,' agreed Mr Beaumaris. 'I am sure I ought not to let it weigh with me: Miss Tallant certainly would not.'
'Well, damn it, I think that prosy fool, Bridlington, was right for once in his life! You've gone stark, staring mad!'
'Very true, I have known it this half-hour and more.'
Lord Fleetwood looked at him in some concern. 'you know, Robert, if you're not careful you'll find yourself walking to the altar before you're much older!' he said.
'No, she has the poorest opinion of me,' replied Mr Beaumaris. 'I perceive that my next step must be to pursue the individual known to us as "ole Grimsby".'
The most charming part about this story is Arabella's kind nature. She is sweet, kind to animals (and chimney sweepers), and absolutely hilarious when dealing with Robert Beaumaris. Her brother Bertram is a fine chap as well who also goes to London and gets himself into major gambling scrapes. Poor Bertram and Arabella each have their own potentially disastrous secrets and as expected, Beaumaris comes to the rescue in the end, but he lets them each suffer long enough to wreak havoc on their personal lives.
Heyer's writing is superb in this one, I breezed through this read with ease, and was so sad to be done with the story. The characterizations of Arabella's family, friends and the London scenes made me want to transport myself back in time, although I certainly would want to distance myself from some of the fortune hunters that we meet in Arabella's story. I would not hesitate to recommend this novel to Regency enthusiasts, Austen fans, romance readers and, of course, Heyer fans. I have many more Heyer reads to go, but I wonder if they could hold a candle to this one, I was laughing out loud during some of the adventures of Arabella. Her sympathy for others was a delight to behold, for both the reader and for Robert Beaumaris, although Robert was caught up in her sympathies more often than he intended. He was quite the knight in shining armor but not so much that we despised the characterization. This is easily one of my absolute favorite reads of 2009.
Drey's Library Drey Salick
Arabella is my first Georgette Heyer novel. And while it was a pretty enjoyable read, I felt that there could have been just a little bit more. I'm not sure of what, but it's like that brownie that you're chomping down while thinking a hint of raspberries would have added just that last little taste...
Maybe it's the fact that Arabella and her sisters are poor, and so much rides on her "getting" a good marriage as a result of her sojourn in London. Yes, I have slightly feminist tendencies, if you haven't noticed... And I will admit that those tendencies probably colored my enjoyment of Arabella a bit. Lest you think I didn't like it at all, I did. I liked that Arabella had spirit. I liked that she found most of the fops in London, well, foppish. I liked that she cared enough about her family to ask for help from what seemed to be an unlikely source. And, of course (this being romance!), I liked that she came to her senses (and him, too!).
Heyer fans will definitely enjoy this Regency romance. And if you're a fan of the genre, you most likely will, too.
Love Romance Passion Keira Gillet
I found Arabella to be wickedly entertaining; a superb comedy of manners! It is a little slow getting started. A good fifty pages are devoted to simply getting ready to go to London - the hero isn't even introduced! When you get past that portion the story really picks up and is very exciting.
Arabella Tallant is very cheeky and clever. She has a temper that gets her into trouble and a mouth that often runs away with her. She and her family are impoverished. Her father's a parson and it is by the ingenuity of her mother that Arabella is able to go to London to have a season. It is very important she makes an excellent match so she can help her family.
Robert Beaumaris is sick and tired of young ladies and their mothers throwing themselves at his feet in hopes he'll trip over them and into marriage. He is defined repeatedly as a Nonpareil, which means he has no equal and is peerless. Men imitate him in fashion. Persons, male and female, strive for his approval. A glance or comment from Robert can make or break someone socially.
Reading parts of the story from his point of view opens lots of wonderful insight to what's going on and how's he's thinking of things. This novel seemed very modern to me because of the amount of head switching.
When Arabella overhears a flippant remark by Robert to Charles Fleetwood, she's angered and in a fit of spontaneity affects superior airs and claims to be an heiress. On a whim Robert chooses to put weight behind her story and instantly Arabella is thrust to the top of society. Mamas want their sons to marry her, gentlemen want to woo her, and several fortune hunters start sniffing around her most eagerly.
In too deep, Arabella doesn't see a way out. She can't marry any of her suitors; they think she's wealthy. She can't tell the truth; it would socially ruin her. Then her brother, Bertram Tallant, shows up in London and makes matters worse by gambling far and above his means. The love of her life could also become her salvation, but how can one tell a man you just married you're not an heiress and in fact in desperate need of funds?
The Book Faery Farrah Kennedy
FROM THE BOOK FAERY REVIEWS...Thanks to SourceBooks for sending me a copy to review Georgette Heyer's novel "Arabella". Who knew that a completely innocent historical romance would have me reading it all in one afternoon and evening? I am ashamed to say I nearly put the book away when I found myself bored with background information after reading the first 3 chapters but glad I kept reading because as you can see from the excerpt above in chapter 4, it just gets good! Ms. Heyer brings together a man who's tired of being hunted by fortune hunting ladies and a woman who refuses to allow this man to think that is what she is all about. So what does she have them do? Use each other for amusement and to achieve what they need without realizing how much they belong with the other until the end...A definite historical romance read that will have you smiling as you read it.
The Courtier's Book Erin Page
Summary: Arabella Tallant is a young lady poised on the edge of adulthood towards the end of the Regency period when she gets the chance to spend a season in London. While her family is by no means poor, they are also not wealthy, so they depend upon the graces of their wealthy friends and their abilities to scrimp and save so that Arabella can have the season she deserves.
But before she can arrive in London, a chance encounter with the dashing and embarrassingly-wealthy Mr. Beaumaris at his hunting lodge changes everything. You see, Arabella might have somehow led him to believe that she's someone that she's not. A very very rich someone. It was a matter of social vengeance that led her to do it, but nevertheless she will have to reap the consequences when he discovers she is not who she says she is.
Of course, Mr. Robert Beaumaris is not all that meets the eye; he is hiding a part of himself from Arabella, too. Even as the celebrated "Nonpareil" of London high society, where every move he makes is copied by the simplest would-be dandy, his true nature is unknown to all but a cherished few. He's tired of every fortune-hunter falling prettily into his lap. When Arabella and her inexplicable caprices cross his path, however, he is more than intrigued; in fact, he may have found someone who has seen through to his true nature. The question remains: has he seen through to hers?
You can bet that high-jinks ensue.
My Review: I really, really liked Arabella! I have to admit, right now it's right underneath Venetia as my favorite Heyer. Here's why I like Arabella in particular:
She is cunning and spunky without being anachronistic. That's not to say that despising your society's conventions is necessarily anachronistic, but... I easily tire of books where the "heroine" doesn't "understand" why she must wear a dress and go to parties and marry someone she doesn't necessarily know that well, when all she'd rather do is put on a pair of "trousers" and match wits with the boys. See, because unless you're Philippa Gregory and you're writing the novel Meridon, that's a really hard act to pull off and make it somehow plausible. What Heyer does here, in this novel, is make a typical Regency young lady quite feisty and likable without making her so much of a standout from her society. She longs to go to London for her first season. She secretly researches the latest French fashions when her strict pastor father is not looking. She likes to think of herself as fragile even though she has quite a hardy constitution (but fragility is so much more romantic!). She tries not to think too hard about the men she might meet in London because she's more than a little excited about the possibility of getting married. She's very much a product of her environment, and yet a standout, likable character.
She is so pretty, but shy of receiving hand-outs from people, that she compels them to give her hand-outs that they otherwise had had no intention to give. Seriously. This happens, like, numerous times throughout the book.
She manages to persuade Beaumaris into doing nearly anything for her. Similar to above, although Beaumaris's acts of generosity involve taking in orphaned chimney sweeps and mongrel dogs. But that's how you know he looooves you...
When Beaumaris calls her out on enjoying all the attention she gets as an heiress, she giggles and is like, "Yeah, I know, right?"
So beyond how much I liked the heroine, I once again got caught up in Heyer's clever, tongue-in-cheek, utterly Regency writing.
In particular I liked that the book focused almost entirely on Arabella herself, and since Heyer developed such a likable heroine, this was the exact right way to go. Sometimes Heyer can go off on describing a scene from a minor character's point view, but in a way that detracts from the story and sloooows the pace down (I'm talking about you, Bath Tangle). Or else she gets caught up in a weird story arc with a side character that is neither likable nor terribly important to the reader (ahem, Bath Tangle). Not so at all with Arabella; we get to read almost solely about Arabella and Beaumaris (and, anyway, it's a romance, so you don't reeeaally care about anyone else, when you're being honest) and otherwise about her brother Bertram, who gets up to some high-jinks of his own while racing about London... under his own alter-ego, of course...
In fact, aside from the wonderful romance, the best part was reading about the brother-sister dynamic between Arabella and Bertram. Heyer has some brilliant moments in this book, and their relationship, and how that relationship is affected by their strained relationship with their father, is relatable and adds so much depth to their characters.
Here was one of my early favorite passages:
It was quite impossible to explain to Papa why one chose rather to play truant, and afterwards take the consequences, than to ask his leave to do something of which one knew well he would not approve.
Bertram skipped lessons for a day and went off hunting only to come home with a broken collar bone, and all their father can do is ask Why?, and you know the kids are sighing and rolling their eyes like, Do I have to keep admitting to you over and over that sometimes I do stupid things? and I love it because that's what you do with your parents, whether you're in the Regency era or in the 1990s. You don't get each other, and sometimes you willfully don't get each other. And then when the other gives way and admits you were right, in the first place, you feel guilty for having been right... and it's just such a cute little truism of life, and one of many that Heyer always manages to capture in her novels.
Overall, I really liked this book and would recommend it to Austen fans, to anyone new to Heyer (I think it would be a great starter book for a Heyer reader), or the general historical romance fan. I don't know how you could be disappointed in it!
Becky's Book Reviews Rebecca Laney
Arabella Tallant, a young country girl, has been invited by her godmother to London. She's to have her season, an unexpected surprise, in a way, though much hoped for. Her parents--especially her mother--hope she will find a husband during this season--since it will likely be her one and only season in town. Arabella wishes this as well. She's not wanting a magnificently wealthy husband or a titled husband.
When Arabella has an accidental encounter with a well-dressed stranger, well, her temper gets the best of her. And she declares herself to be fabulously wealthy. Before she knows it, everyone in town has heard the news. Arabella is quite an heiress! And she's become the town's new It girl. Everyone simply loves adoring her, making much of her. But can Arabella find a husband who will love her for who she really is?
Arabella is a very likable character. She's spirited and opinionated. And the man who's 'destined' to win her heart is quite nice as well!
I enjoyed spending time in this one! Yes, it's a bit formulaic in places. But I almost always enjoy the books anyway. There is just something comforting, satisfying, and happy-making about them. Most Heyer books feel like good friends.
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August 01, 2009
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