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The Grand Sophy    by Georgette Heyer order for
Grand Sophy
by Georgette Heyer
Order:  USA  Can
Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Of all Georgette Heyer's treasure trove of witty and scintillating Regencies, The Grand Sophy is my long-time favorite. Fortunately - since my old copy is worn down with re-reading, it has just been reissued by Sourcebooks Casablanca.

One way of looking at this delightful romance is as a role reversal of The Taming of the Shrew. After being left a fortune by his Nabob uncle and paying off his erratic father's gaming debts, hot-tempered Charles Rivenhall (who's engaged to the humorless Miss Wraxton) has turned into the family despot, ruling the roost in the certainty that he knows what's best for all his siblings. Little does he know that a tornado (in the form of his cousin Sophy Stanton-Lacy) is about to tear apart his comfortable (though not very happy) life.

It all begins when Sir Horace Stanton-Lacy (a diplomat) descends on his sister Lady Ombersley, asking her to take in his daughter Sophy while he travels to Brasil. When Sophy shows up - her entourage including a splendid black horse, an Italian greyhound, a parrot, and a monkey in a scarlet coat - she finds a miserable household. In particular, her cousin Cecelia was to marry Lord Charlbury, but he unfortunately contracted the mumps, leaving the field open to handsome (but penniless) poet Augustus Fawnhope. A heavy-handed Charles forbids the relationship, hence encouraging it.

Of course, a wily Sophy sorts out all these relationships - and even her own - though at times with rather drastic methods (that include confronting a hardened criminal in his lair, a gunshot and a kidnapping). As she tells Charles, 'Where the well-being of the persons to whom one is attached is concerned, one cannot say that one is not responsible'. She is indeed the Grand Sophy and her story is well worth reading and re-reading!

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