Monday, November 7, 2011

The Devil’s Cub – Georgette Heyer

This will (probably) be the last Heyer post for a while, though I could happily spend the winter reading through her entire output, new books are calling. When I re read ‘Sylvester’ I knew I’d still like it, it’s a later book and show’s Heyer really at home in her world. ‘The Devil’s Cub’ was first published in 1932 so is a period piece in every way. It’s also straight out melodramatic adventure and it occurred to me that a book that was probably my very favourite in all the world when I was 13 (beating even ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’) might not be quite as good as I remembered.

I only meant to reread my favourite bits (when Dominic shoots the highway man, when Mary shoots Dominic, and of course the bit at the end when everything come together – which I duly did late at night until I finally went to sleep thinking it was okay but a bit overblown. The next day I was away from home and took another book to read – which made me realise that I couldn’t wait to get back to ‘The Devil’s Cub’.

If I was marooned desert island disks style my book choice/luxury would be a complete set of Georgette Heyer. Marooned in adult life with bills to pay, troubles to negotiate, and a hundred unexpected disappointments (my bus was late, I missed a parcel delivery, I don’t have a dishwasher – you know the sort of thing) it’s a great thing to have something to rely on. It doesn’t matter how many times I read something like ‘The Devil’s Cub’ the humour with which Heyer wrote always feels fresh even if I spend more time now marvelling over how she makes a plot hang together however unlikely it is.

Despite all this I would hesitate to recommend Heyer to anyone. I tried my youngest sister on a few of her books when she seemed the right kind of age – sister liked them but didn’t fall in love with them as I did. Heyer’s a wonderful writer but her particular brand of escapism clearly isn’t for everyone, one of the pleasures of blogging and my online book group has been finding other fans out there to share my enthusiasm for her with.

As for ‘The Devil’s Cub’; well if a whirlwind romance between a man who abducts the wrong sister whilst fleeing the country having shot his man in a gaming hell, is then shot by the abductee whilst she tries to convince him she’s really a virtuous sort of female, followed by a chase across France as they keep getting separated, another mismatched but very much in love couple, and the hero’s colourful family also in full pursuit... sounds like your cup of tea – well look no further, you’ve hit the jack pot. 


  1. I just re read These Old Shades last night in the bath. For those non-Heyer readers this is the story of how the Devil's Cub's parents got together. Also containing melodrama, abduction and lunatic plot twists! I must have read it tens of times over the past 20 years, but as you say it never fails to comfort and entertain when the world all gets a bit irritating or stressful. Now that I have two daughters I really hope that they too will get the bug.

  2. Dominic isn't my favorite Heyer hero, but I do enjoy Leonie & Rupert - and Mary's encounter with the old gentleman at the inn.