Heyer for Beginners — Friday’s Child (1944)

Ah, so this is what all the fuss is about!

At last, a Heyer Regency novel that is funny and bright and clever and romantic, action-packed and just chock-full of delight. This is why the genre has survived, and thrived, over the decades since it came into being. Not The Corinthian. Certainly not Regency Buck. But Friday’s Child is the kind of fun-filled froth that just keeps you reading and reading, and leaves you with a smile.

From the very beginning, when we meet the young and somewhat wild Lord Sheringham, as he proposes to the very proper, and very maddening, beauty Isabella Milborne, this book transports you into its stylized setting. I’ve said before in these reviews that historical fiction has always been a bugbear of mine, mostly for its inevitable inauthenticity, but with this book I believe it. I believe that a man of wealth and fortune like Sherry existed. I believe that a scene like his and Isabella’s would surely have been enacted at some point in history. I even believe that, on the spur of the moment and partially in revenge, but also partially out of a sense of duty and kindness, he ends up married to a sweet but simple orphan he had known all his life.

It’s improbable, but Heyer convinces me that it is so.

Our heroine, Hero — nicknamed Kitten, which suits her — is winsome and brave and entirely clueless, and Sherry’s slow-burning realization that he is crazy in love with her comes at a well-deserved price, and is executed perfectly. But beyond the romance of these two young — hey, almost appropriately aged! — kids, Sherry’s stalwart circle of friends simply make this book, all three gallant and decent and honorable, even if George Wrotham (the book’s beta hero, except that he is often All Alpha in his dealings with the equally melodramatic Miss Milborne) should get slapped far more than he does, and really just needs to calm down.

In short, Friday’s Child is the kind of book I was led to expect when I agreed — reluctantly, which seems incredible to me now — to embark on this journey through Heyer’s historical fiction. What I did not expect was to like it so much.

No, more than that. I loved it.

What is happening to me?

Maura Tan was born in Zanzibar, grew up in Morocco and lives in Singapore, where she is currently studying for her third degree in Contemporary Literature—when not writing reviews for Romantic Intentions Quarterly and eating her bodyweight in durian.