“Can’t make the woman out at all, myself. Know what she said to me this morning? Asked me if I’d slept well, and when I told here that it beat me how anyone could sleep at all, with a dashed lot of cockerels crowing their heads off, she said that rural sounds exhilarate the spirit, and do something or other to languid nature!”

“Cowper,” said Kitty, in a depressed tone. “‘Restore the tone of languid nature.'”

“Well, it’s a bag of moonshine!” said Freddy. “What’s more, I always thought so! … It’s my belief, Kit, the woman’s touched in her upper works.”

“No, she is merely addicted to poetry,” explained Kitty.

“Well, that just shows you!” said Mr Standen, reasonably.

Oh Freddy! For you I’d give up my favourite most comfortable pair of pyjamas with the holes in and wear nothing but the most uncomfortably and beautifully tailored clothes forever. Cotillion has one of Georgette Heyer’s typical heroines, kind and forthright and gratifyingly resistant to overwhelming crushes – though she does fancy the pants off her sexy bad boy sort-of cousin, Jack. Kitty’s guardian (Jack’s uncle) issues an ultimatum: Kitty must marry one of his nephews or else his fortune shall be given away in his Will. Of course Kitty is furious when Jack doesn’t turn up to offer her his hand in marriage, and decides she is going to go to London and escape her boring life anyway, and be damned to the lot of them. Freddy, one of her guardian’s nephews, is tricked and flattered and grudgingly persuaded to pretend to be engaged to her so that she can escape, and what follows is a series of adventures which ends up with Kitty deciding, that, actually, Romance novels can keep their sexy tall dark and dangerous heroes like Jack, and she’d much rather have somebody dependable and funny and kind like Freddy. Very sensible girl.

I’ve read Cotillion, Arabella, Bath Tangle and I’ve just gone onto the Grand Sophy, which has some smashing bits of dialogue:

“Since you have brought up Miss Wraxton’s name, I shall be much obliged to you, cousin, if you will refrain from telling my sisters that she has a face like a horse.”

“But, Charles, no blame attaches to Miss Wraxton! She cannot help it, and that, I assure you, I have always pointed out to your sisters!”

He said stiffly, “I consider Miss Wraxton’s countenance particularly well-bred.”

“Yes, indeed, but you have quite misunderstood the matter! I meant a particularly well-bred horse!”

“You meant, as I am perfectly aware, to belittle Miss Wraxton!”

“No, no! I am very fond of horses!” Sophy said earnestly.

Before he could stop himself he found that he was replying to this. “Selina, who repeated this remark to me, is not fond of horses, however and she -” He broke off, seeing how absurd it was to argue on such a head.

“I expect she will be, when she has lived in the same house with Miss Wraxton for a month or two,” said Sophy encouragingly.

I do have a bit of a problem with The Grand Sophy, though, in that absolutely everything Sophy does is perfect. This is true for all Georgette Heyer’s heroines, which I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it has taken me 4 books to twig. I knew something was bothering me and was making them a little dull, but I couldn’t quite see what. The most any of them ever does wrong, I think, is when they high-spiritedly decide to get a quick bit of revenge back on whoever the hero is. Still she did write an awful lot of them, I suppose we must forgive her some things.

In actual fact, although the dialogue is crap in comparison and it’s nowhere near as well written, I think I prefer Sophie Kinsella/Madeleine Wickham’s modern day chick lit. Well, I find the heroines slightly less annoying anyway. Maybe. I really liked Twenties Girl, just because of one of the main characters who is the ghost of the heroine’s great aunt. She’s manipulative, shallow, flawed and still has integrity and courage and a really big heart. I really liked the heroine in The Hunger Games too, who is selfish and single minded and occasionally a bit of a simpleton.

Actually I take that back, modern day chick lit just isn’t as enjoyable as stuff set in the regency period. I think it’s got something to do with me being absolutely fed up of this day and age and society, and the main reason I actually read in the first place is in order to slip into a different world for a bit. The less like my world the book is the better. That’s why One Day bothered me so much I think, because the characters and the story hit a bit too close to home for comfort.

Of course, best of all the chick lit heroines is Elizabeth Bennett. But the internet is so full of us all singing her praises that I don’t really see the point in adding to the tumult. I think everyone agrees though, we love her for her flaws. Same with Scarlet O’Hara of course, although I’m not sure I would characterize Gone with the Wind as strictly being chick lit. I suppose it is, given it’s so character driven and heavily based on relationships with the occasional bit of framing and context with the war. But then I suppose then you could give all the academics heart attacks and say by the same rules that Anna Karenina is chick lit too, apart from that awful long dull philosophical dirge by Levin sitting in a heap on his stupid farm (I suppose you have to be in the mood for that sort of thing, but frankly, I really wasn’t).

Anyway, in further news it turns out I was spot on about my travel insurance refusing to pay me a single penny and I’ve lost all R30 000/£3000. I must say even though I have had a particularly shit time lately I am glad to be back in Cape Town and I’m glad to be able to walk in my botanical gardens again, it’s so beautiful at the moment it gives me shivers. I’ll have to take some pictures.

I’m going to count my blessings, I might have had a shit time but I got to see my friends and visit some art galleries (I saw Ophelia and Mariana and loads of new stuff I really liked) and at least I wasn’t bitten by a puff adder (apparently some puff adders were discovered right by my office while I was gone, so who knows what might have happened). According to my draft notes I wanted to end this post “Alluringly yours,” which I must have read somewhere and I still think is absolutely awesome but I can think of no way to fit it in. And I have no idea where it came from, and nor does the internet it seems. So! There we go.

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