Desert Isle Keeper
Of all her novels, Friday’s Child was Georgette Heyer’s favorite and I can certainly see why. The dialogue is delicious, the characters are loveable, and the plot is fast and funny. I fell in love with the book before I turned the first page.
Anthony Verelst, Viscount Sheringham is not at all happy with his current state. He is rich, very rich indeed, but his late father tied up the money in a trust that allows Sherry to touch only the interest, not the principal. When he is 25, he can take full possession, but Sherry suspects that his maternal uncle is fleecing him. If he was married, he could have all the money immediately, (and he has some pressing debts of honor) so he proposes to his childhood friend, the Incomparable Isabella Millbourne who turns him down flat telling him she likes him as a friend but that he’s too immature and rakish to make a good husband.
Hurt, Sherry goes to his mother and after an uncomfortable meeting with her and his uncle, he storms out declaring he will marry the first woman he meets. The woman turns out to be Hero Wantage, a shy young orphan of good family who has known Sherry for years. When he discovers her nasty guardian is about to force her to become a governess or marry a curate, Sherry proposes they get married. Naturally their marriage will be one of convenience only. Hero will get a home, he will get control of his money, and if they want to have friends on the side, well, that’s all right as long as they are discreet.
Hero agrees to the marriage and with the help of his friends Gil Ringwood; Ferdy Fakenham; and George, Lord Wrotham, Sherry procures a special license and he and Hero are wed. She soon becomes a great favorite of Sherry’s friends who call her kitten. The name is apt – Hero is sweet and playful but she is very young and naïve – oh is she naïve! Hero has always lived in the country, and is totally ignorant of town ways. She gets into scrape after scrape, she loses lots of money gambling, she makes friends who are not acceptable, and she has to be bailed out of trouble over and over. Gradually Sherry realizes that a lot of Hero’s problems are due to his own bad example and it’s time he quit being childish and start acting like a man. When Hero gets into her worst scrape ever, she and Sherry have a terrible quarrel and she runs away. It’s then that he belatedly realizes that he loves her and always has.
Sherry begins the book as a heedless rake, but it doesn’t take too long before the reader realizes that deep down inside, he is more than just a silly ass. Slowly his better nature begins to surface as his relationship with Hero changes. Sherry realizes that he’s happier playing piquet and chatting with his wife, than gambling away his blunt in seedy hells. He will probably never become a model of pious rectitude, but he matures quite realistically during the course of the book.
Hero is sweet as can be. She isn’t silly, but she is only seventeen and has no idea how to make her way in a complex social world. She makes mistakes that she would not make if she had an older and more experienced woman to guide her and, since Sherry’s mother despises her, poor Hero has no one to turn to. While Sherry’s friends all love her, they really aren’t much help at all, since they are all rather rakish.
The last scenes are in Bath and there’s a wonderfully farcial chase featuring just about every character. Happily it all ends well in this delightful story. If ever a book deserved to be called sparking, it’s Friday’s Child.