Regency romance author, Mary Moore, freely admits that Charity Girl is not one of her favorites among Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels. Nevertheless, today she gives this book its due, comparing and contrasting it to some of Heyer’s other Regency romances. And even admits to a sigh when she came to the end of the story. In addition, for all of you Regency aficionados who particularly enjoy the colorful language of that era, Mary shares some of the delectable phrases which Heyer sprinkled through Charity Girl.
Do you have a favorite Regency cant term? Please feel free to share it in a comment to this article.
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Like everyone else, I became a voracious reader in my early teens. Romance novels were at the beginning of their rise and the library had them flying off the shelves. Then one day I found The Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer and I was hooked, on the author and the era. Everything had to be a Regency from then on and when I read the last Heyer book, I discovered that Zebra Publishing (as it was then) had a Regency book club — four new Regencies arrived on my doorstep every month!
I have to admit that Charity Girl was not one of my favorites. Ms. Heyer’s penchant for keeping us guessing is no less present in this story.
Charity, or Cherry as she is called, runs away from a family of second cousins who treat her as nothing more than a second class servant. She is met on the road by Viscount Desford. He cannot be expected to leave such a young girl stranded, so he takes her up and drives her to London where she believes her grandfather to be, and that he will take her in.
Desford was on his way to London after visiting his dear friend, Lady Henrietta, Hetta to him. Both families have expected them to marry for years, but both protested they are too good of friends to ruin it with marriage.
As in Sprig Muslin with Lady Hester and Sir Gareth, we do not know whether he will fall in love with Amanda, the young woman he becomes embroiled with out of chivalry, or realize it has been his friend Lady Hester all along.
In The Corinthian, we know Sir Richard is to be engaged to the staid Mellissa Brandon. Will he discover it is his young charge, Pen, who has stolen his heart?
In Jane Ashton’s review of The Reluctant Widow she explains it perfectly, "True love is a process in a Georgette Heyer book!"
It is precisely because we have already read these other book before Charity Girl, near her very last one, that we cannot decide who Desford will end up with until the end. In this case, he comes to see that only his dear friend, Hetta, will do for him (winning a shout of joy from me) and she, in turn, vows she has loved him for years.
The thing that kept me from enjoying it immensely is that Des spends so little time with Hetta. (Note: forget I said this when you read my thoughts on Beauvallet!) He is busy chasing rabbit trails trying to reconnect Cherry with her grandfather throughout much of the book. And Cherry is with Hetta guarding Cherry’s reputation, and breaking Hetta’s heart as she believes him to have fallen in love with the young girl. However, the ending satisfies and there is still a sigh as there always is when you have read the last page and must close the book.
I could, and maybe should, have ended with this review with the sigh. But I wanted to point out an interesting tidbit I never noticed before. Ms. Heyer’s descriptive language and her use of cant is always amazing. However, about half way through the book I noticed some particularly expressive phrases and began to write each one down. There were more than 65 after I began to notice and not a one was used twice. There was nothing so ordinary and the usual "here and thereians" oh no! Perhaps you will find a few of these interesting: "she’s a rabbit pole," "we shall have him quite rumtitum again," "you rush-buckler," "a diet drink of dock roots," "what a fimble famble," "it was all Lombard Street to an eggshell," "she is looking more demure than a nun’s hen," and so on! I once heard someone say that Ms. Heyer believed others to be copying her work so she began to make up phrases hoping they would use them and embarrass themselves. I utterly believe it now!
Award winning author, Mary Moore, released her third Regency through Love Inspired Historical in January. She began writing in 1995, inspired by Georgette Heyer and other Regency writers, and was first published in 2011 after battling and beating breast cancer. She and her husband are natives of the Washington, DC area, but now live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia.