Heyer for Beginners — The Corinthian (1940)

So, we’re back to the Regency here, only Heyer’s third Regency novel out of fourteen historical efforts released up to this point (all four of her contemporary novels had been published by this stage as well, as had 8 of her 12 mysteries), and I can only assume the list gets very Regency-heavy in the back end, because otherwise I am not sure what I have been hearing about all these years.

This one is the story of young — VERY young — Penelope Creed, who is running away from home rather than be forced into marriage to a hateful cousin due to her very great wealth. Caught in the act of escaping through her upstairs bedroom window by the very drunk, very fashionable Sir Richard Wyndham, more than a decade her senior, Pen talks the man into helping her return to her home town where she is sure her childhood best friend will want to marry her.

But, of course, Richard could not possibly travel with Pen dressed as a girl. So inappropriate. So instead, Pen retains the boy’s attire she’d disguised herself with, and together they set off in search of her happily ever after, travelling on the stage and enjoying all the freedoms that only the male sex could experience in those (more) misogynist times.

This is a lively story made even more so by the robbery plot the two get mixed up in, and both Richard and Pen are likable characters you want to see happy, clever and funny even if they are a little condescending (Richard) and naïve (Pen). Not a lot happens, and it far less substantive than much of what has come before in the Heyer canon, but it is an enjoyable return to the “escapist” literature Heyer herself claimed her work to be.

This one was a lot of fun, and I liked it a lot. I would have liked it more had Pen not been a literal teenager, though.

P.S. I have NO IDEA what this cover has to do with the book. This is a very bad cover.

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.