I wish Georgette Heyer was read more - she certainly deserves it. Nearly all her books are delightful and fun and Arabella is no different. Easily one of my top 5 favorites, the fantastic heroine Arabella is not your average swooning miss - nor is she a hard-edged shrew. Rather, she is self-assured, easily keeping the hero in the dark as to her intentions (a refreshing reverse to what readers of romance are used to!). Highly, highly recommend Arabella.
Heyer is a marvelous writer. Fashioning humor and scandal in Victorian England with as much modesty as a covered ankle. In this tale a maid in her first season tells one lie and it sets the Ton on its ear. Whoops!
This is the best Cinderella-type regency that I have EVER read. Heyer has a wonderful gift and a unique sense of humor that is unequalled.
Arabella is the eldest daughter of a poor vicar and his wife who has pinned all her hopes on her eldest, most beautiful offspring marrying a rich man in order to help the family. The mother engineers a season in London for Arabella and while she was on the way, Arabella meets the wealthy, handsome Mr. Robert Beaumaris. They clash, he is entranced, she is in love and Arabella's season is unlike any other you'll ever read.
Mongrel dogs, chimney sweeps and limping prostitutes, not to mention gin-drinking babies are but a taste of what you might encounter in this wonderful romantic tale of love winning against all the odds.
Prepare to laugh out loud and long many times throughout the book!
I've loved Heyer books since high school and Arabella is in my top 5 favorites. Love the way she describes her characters so I feel I'm seeing them myself. Arabella is a strong innocent passionate young lady and helping the chimney sweep boy, the small ugly dog being battered by a group of boys is what she does best. The fact that "society " frowns on these actives does not deter what she knows is right. The fact that the uptight Mr, Beaumaris seems to always help her resolve her problems is confusing. The banter is delightful and Heyer paints with her words.
Arabella is a character that endears herself to the reader. She has spunk that gets her into mischief and her background of being raised by a loving family who's father is the local vicar sometimes rears its head at the most uncomfortable times for her godmother who is sponsoring her London season. When challenged, she tells Robert Beaumaris she is not chaising after him for his money implying she is wealthy in her own right; he sees through her but decides he'll play along because she brings some excitement into his boring life. She rescues a young climbing boy from the chimney; he volunteers to house him. She rescues a stray dog being abused by several boys; he takes the dog home and uses his progress reports as a ploy to see her often; She befriends "leaky peg" and thanks her for helping her brother when he gets into trouble. She agrees to marry Alverstoke to get the money her brother needs only to find she cannot deceive him. It's a delightful read and one that will not disappoint those who enjoy a good love story set in Regency times.
I found this book an unexpected delight! While it started a bit slow for me and the reading a bit challenging at first, it was wonderfully humerous and the story line was reflective of Pride and Prejudice. Be sure to press on until Arabella is on her way to London and you may find yourself chuckling, as I did, at Arabella's spunk and predicaments!
Reviewer: Auntie Helen (Kent, England) -
Arabella is one of my favourite Heyer books and part of its charm are the amusing conversations that Beaumaris has with the little dog Ulysses. The central idea that because Arabella isn't interested in Beaumaris, that piques his interest and makes him pursue her, works quite well except it's never entirely clear what it is about her that DOES attract him. Yes, she's pretty - although younger than his usual lady, but she is also innocent and unworldly and therefore makes mistakes that he appears (rather surprisingly) to find charming; she foists young orphans, mongrel dogs and penniless brothers on him (not usually guaranteed to snare your man) and she withholds the truth of her fortune from him - not knowing that he already knows it.
Beaumaris starts the book seeming jaded, bored - the typical rich Heyer hero (although untitled this time), but he seems to become more and more amiable as the book goes on, going against his better judgement in order to humour her in many areas (such as Jemmy the Climbing Boy that he takes in). His conversations with the dog are fantastic though - Heyer occasionally includes dogs in her books and she always gives a wonderfully affectionate and amusing portrait, such as Lufra in the book Frederica and Bouncer in The Reluctant Widow.
The book is a great fun read, with lots of interesting characters well-drawn. For me the only real disappointment is that we never really know quite why Beaumaris falls in love with Arabella, apart from her innocence and freshness, and also why he is so sure that she does really like him when she has given him so little encouragement.