Book/page totals

Top 10 Lists

Sunday, June 27, 2010

cover of 'The Talisman Ring'

Sir Tristram Shield comes to visit his dying uncle Sylvester, the Lord of Lavenham, and since it is Sylvester's wish, Tristram agrees to marry his younger, half-French cousin Eustacie. Tristram is a practical, unromantic kind of gentleman, so to Eustacie he seems completely unfeeling when he won't follow along in her flights of fancy at how sorry he should feel to see her going to the guillotine wearing a white dress (she was brought out of France long before there was any danger of that), or when she asks him to ride at full-speed to her deathbed when she dies in childbirth-- he replies quite practically that he wouldn't go out on such an occasion, but this doesn't suit Eustacie at all. Quite quickly, Eustacie convinces herself and her maid that she will be completely miserable married to Tristram (she's probably right-- and she would likely make him miserable as well), so she decides to run away and become a governess (her only qualification for such a job is that she speaks French). As she makes her way out in the night, she runs into a group of smugglers (or "free-traders")-- and their leader is, of course, her disgraced cousin Ludovic Lavenham, heir to Sylvester. Everyone assumed he had fled the country due to the suspicion that he murdered a man who took a family heirloom, a talisman ring, in payment for gambling debts and then would not return it. When Ludovic, Eustacie, and Tristram all end up together again and Tristram and Ludovic finally believe each other that neither of them killed the man, they set about finding the person who did-- and in particular, finding the talisman ring that will clear Ludovic's name.

The night they meet, Eustacie and Ludovic end up at the Red Lion inn, where they meet Sarah Thane, who is a wonderful mix of independent practicality and interest in romance and adventure. She comes down the first night when they come in late (Ludovic had been shot running from the Excisemen), and offers to help them as long as she can take part in the adventure. Eventually Tristram joins up with them, they all decide that Beau Lavenham is the only plausible villain (he is heir to Lavenham as well), and they hatch a plot to get access to his house to search for a hidden panel that Ludovic vaguely remembers, where the ring might be hidden away.

The book is full of delightful, entertaining characters and escapades. Sarah Thane's brother, Sir Hugh Thane, stops at the Red Lion on his way to somewhere else because he feels unwell, and stays much longer because of the quality of the drink served there. Sarah herself is quite clever and entertaining-- she pretends quite successful to be a giddy chatterer who loves architecture to distract Beau Lavenham and provide an excuse for looking for the hidden panel, and later on puts on a show to distract and discredit the Bow Street Runners who have come looking for the wanted murderer Ludovic Lavenham-- she pretends to faint, and her brother comments how odd that is (she never faints), and Tristram sees through the charade and suggests they throw cold water on her to revive her. The interplay between Tristram and Sarah in particular is quite delightful-- from the first moment when Eustacie relates how heartless and unromantic Tristram is, you get a sense that Sarah is interested in him; and her intelligence and practicality and adventure suit Tristram much better than the flighty Eustacie, and he's really not anywhere near as heartless as Eustacie imagines. Of course, Eustacie and Ludovic are perfectly suited at well-- at one point, he tells her she will be marrying a ne'er-do-well, and she replies that is just what she has always wanted.

A quick, entertaining, delightful read. I did keep expecting some twist or turn in the plot, but the only thing really unexpected was the brilliant hiding place where the Talisman Ring had been kept hidden for so long.

Title:The Talisman Ring
Author:Georgette Heyer
Date published:1936
Genre:Adventure / Regency Romance
Number of pages:320
Notes:loan from Catey


Google Search