Monday, 29 July 2013

Kim's Review : Bath Tangle

The number of reprints (the various covers above, are just a sampling of the editions) of the Bath Tangle are a testimony to the popularity of this title by Georgette Heyer.

Bath Tangle opens with the death of the Eccentric Earl of Spenborough, leaving behind a headstrong daughter Serena and a wife Fanny younger than his daughter. While most of the land, the title and holdings go to a distant cousin (according to the law of those times, where property and titles went to closest male relatives), he does set aside some money in trust for his wife and daughter. However, Serena is to receive a small amount as allowance each year under the trusteeship of Ivo Barrasford, Marquis of Rotherham. She will gain control over her small fortune when she marries, but only if the marriage has the consent of her trustee. To complicate matters, Serena was once engaged to the Marquis and had cried off from it as she felt they wouldn't suit.

The Earl had brought up Serena more as a son than a daughter, so she is quite independent in her thinking and comportment and an excellent rider to boot. She used to manage her fathers affairs and is more comfortable taking care of his holdings than his household. Unable to bear the changes being wrought on her fathers property by the distant cousin who is now the new Earl, she and her step mother head to Bath, for a change of scenery and to wait out their period of mourning.

Here Serena bumps into an old suitor Major Hector who having remained unmarried begins to woo her again. The Marquis in the meantime gets engaged to Emily, a pretty but naive girl whose pushy and domineering mother will do anything to arrange a socially upward match for her.

The last few pages of the book are the funniest, where "who loves who" is a major tangle that needs to be sorted out with everyone seeming to be at cross purposes with the other.

The book is written in the normal Heyer style. A lot of her fans feel that the lead pair are not as endearing as some of her other characters, but not for me. Georgette Heyer's female leads have always been strong women or girls. While they may not all be as outwardly strong as Serena is, they all have an inner strength. The language is not as smooth to read as a modern day novel, but its not half as tough as The Conqueror either.

Rating : 4 / 5

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