Monday, 15 June 2015

'The Talisman Ring' by Georgette Heyer (1936)

Synopsis: On his deathbed the elderly Baron Lavenham arranges a marriage between his great-nephew Sir Tristram Shield and his half-French granddaughter Eustacie de Vauban, a refugee from revolutionary France. Eustacie has a very limited circle of acquaintance in England - as a result of the Baron having quarrelled with most of his neighbours - and the Baron is concerned about her prospects. The Baron's actual heir is his grandson Ludovic but the Baron exiled him to the Continent a few years before, after Ludovic was accused of murdering a man in a dispute over a valuable heirloom called the talisman ring. Sir Tristram and Eustacie obediently agree to marry but soon realise that they aren't at all suited to each other. There's a big age gap between the two of them and Sir Tristram finds Eustacie's fanciful, romantic ways silly and annoying. Eustacie thinks Sir Tristram cold and boring. Eustacie then decides to run away to London in the hope of obtaining a position as a governess. She escapes on horseback in the middle of the night and is immediately plunged into an adventure when she encounters a handsome smuggler in a dark forest who turns out to be her cousin Ludovic. The two of them are then forced to take shelter in an inn called the Red Lion after Ludovic is shot in the shoulder whilst escaping from customs officers. At the inn they then encounter a sensible 28 old year old woman called Miss Sarah Thane, who is hoping to have an adventure herself, and her eccentric older brother Sir Hugh. The very next day Sir Tristram turns up at the inn to look for Eustacie and becomes reluctantly involved in the adventure to clear Ludovic's name and to recover the talisman ring.

The Talisman Ring was Georgette Heyer's final Georgian novel. In my opinion this book is also one of her funniest and I can completely understand why it's a fan favourite. It was a delightful read! It's got some hilariously funny laugh-out-loud moments and the story is full of adventure and suspense. This book's got murder, theft, chases, disguises, fist-fighting, gun-shooting, smugglers and even a Headless Horseman (er, sort of). And I really loved the main characters and how they all bounced off of each other in this one. Eustacie is hilarious and adorable, Ludovic is swashbuckling and dashing, and Sir Tristram is quick-thinking, practical and sarcastic. There are some very fun secondary characters in this book as well such as Sarah's older brother Sir Hugh (who is far more interested in drinking brandy than having adventures), the innkeeper Mr Nye, and Ludovic's sidekick Bundy. My absolute favourite character in this book was Sarah though. She's adventurous and fun-loving but still very sensible and rational and I loved her sense of humour. She's a wonderful character.

I came very close to giving this book five stars but in the end I chose not to, because the plot is a little bit convoluted at times and I don't think Sarah and Sir Tristram had enough scenes together. Their characters fell in love too quickly for my liking and I think their romance could have done with some more development. The scenes that they did have together were delightful but there should have been more of them. But in all other respects The Talisman Ring is utterly charming and it's definitely one of my favourite Heyer novels :)

Rating: 4.5/5


Hamlette said...

My library has this, so I'm putting it on my TBR list :-)

Hannah said...

Yay! I love Georgette Heyer! I read my first Heyer book almost two years ago and I've read about a dozen of her works now. To be honest her books tend to be a bit hit-and-miss for me but the good books of hers are very, very good!

Richard Armitage has recorded a few audiobooks of Heyer's works. You might want to check those out when you're done with this one! :)

Hamlette said...

Oh my. That's a very tantalizing prospect!

Hannah said...

I know right! :D He's done 3 GH audiobooks: 'Venetia', 'Sylvester' and 'The Convenient Marriage'. I still need to get a hold of TCM but I loved his readings of 'Venetia' and 'Sylvester'. 'Venetia' is also my favourite GH novel :)

Hamlette said...

So the trouble with audio books is that I literally have my children around me 14 hours of the day, and I'm asleep 8 more, and... I will make this work. Somehow.