Review: ‘The Grand Sophy’ by Georgette Heyer

Posted November 6, 2016 by Mary Kingswood in Review / 3 Comments

The Grand Sophy, published in 1950, features a heroine that every modern reader can surely enjoy. Sophy Stanton-Lacey is a glorious character, feisty without being unfeasibly modern, spirited and determined without being aggressive, a catalyst for change without being ruthless. Yes, she’s meddlesome and manipulative, but she genuinely wants the best possible outcome for everyone. From the moment she arrives at her aunt’s house in London, armed with her own Spanish horse, a parrot and a monkey, she dominates the page, charming and infuriating her relations in equal measure.

Her stuffy cousin Charles and his priggish fiancee, Miss Eugenia Wraxton, bear the brunt of Sophy’s good-humoured efforts to sort out their lives. Eugenia, in particular, is beautifully drawn, very much the other side of the coin from Sophy herself. Eugenia is constantly trying to ‘give her a hint’ about how to behave in London society, none of which advice Sophy needs, ensconced as she already is in diplomatic and political circles through her father’s career. And where Sophy wants to rearrange the romantic pairings of her cousins, which she can see will only bring them grief, Eugenia’s meddling takes the form of interference in the running of the household and suppressing the natural liveliness of the children.

As always with Heyer, the tangles reach a very entertaining climax where everything teeters on the brink of disaster before abruptly resolving itself into a happy ending mode. And, as always, the romance is almost forgotten about until the very last chapter. I confess, this weakness of the author’s is a constant irritant to me, as I far prefer a romance that builds steadily over the course of the book. However, everything else about this was a delight, even including the Lady-Catherine-like aunt and the array of caricature supporting roles. Five stars.

PS I’ve chosen to illustrate this with the classic paperback cover I remember from years gone by. I may even still have a copy in the attic. Sadly, my modern Kindle version has a far less interesting external cover, and none at all within the body of the book.


3 responses to “Review: ‘The Grand Sophy’ by Georgette Heyer

  1. ealasaid

    This was a fun read. All of the characters are very entertaining, especially Sophy. The romance does consequently take somewhat of a back seat, since there are so many characters. I liked all the scenes of Sophy and Charles together and would have appreciated more. There is probably nobody better than Heyer at subtly and humorously portraying the hypocrisy and contrariness of human nature.

    My one problem with the book is that I was uncomfortable with some of the terms used to describe the Jewish moneylender, and I was also surprised by it since the book was published in 1950. You do see similar terms in Agatha Christie books from before WWII.

    • Mary Kingswood

      Yes, that’s something that a lot of Heyer fans comment on, and some won’t read this book because of that one scene. I just put it down to the unthinking stereotypes and prejudices of the times. Every era has something that shocks us now.

      • ealasaid

        That’s true, and overall I prefer books to remain as they were written rather than be censored for current times.

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