Arabella

[openbook booknumber=”1402219466″]

[rating:5/5]

Impetuosity is Arabella’s only fault. That and being young and naive. At the same time she has very strong convictions about right and wrong and follows through on them, again to a fault. After Frederica Arabella is my next favorite heroine. She is not a push over, nor is she vapid or overly frivolous. Being young and naive ends up being only endearing, and her convictions are admirable considering the time and place she is in. Her impetuosity though is what got her into trouble in the first place.

Arabella is one of eight children in a large family living in a country parish. Her father, the Vicar, is a strict man who raises his children to love, respect and care for all of their fellow creatures. She is from a respectable family, but her fortune is very, very small. Through a happy circumstance her godmother writes and says that she is willing to bring Arabella under her wing in London and sponsor her for a London Season!


Mr. Beaumaris, who had picked Ulysses up, paid no heed to all these attempts at self-justification, but addressed himself to his adorer. “What a fool you are!” he observed. “No, I have the greatest dislike of having my face licked, and must request you to refrain. Quiet, Ulysses! quiet! I am grateful to you for your solicitude, but you must perceive that I am in the enjoyment of my customary good health. I would I could say the same of you. You have once more reduced yourself to skin and bone, my friend, a process which I shall take leave to inform you I consider as unjust as it is ridiculous. Anyone setting eyes on you would suppose that I grudged you even the scraps from my table!” He added, without the slightest change of voice, and without raising his eyes from the creature in his arms. “You would also appear to have bereft my household of its sense, so that the greater part of it, instead of providing me with the breakfast I stand in need of, is engaged in excusing itself from any suspicion of blame and – I may add – doing itself no good thereby.”

On her way to London, traveling with a family friend, her carriage breaks down and she goes to a near by house seeking shelter. The man inside, Robert Beaumaris, is at first unwilling to entertain her and finally admits to his friend, inadvertently in her hearing, that he assumes that she was a fortune hunter and, hearing that he was home, made up this story to throw herself in his way. Arabella impetuosity comes to life and she immediately puts on airs that in fact she is a “great heiress” of “large fortune” and attempts to put Mr. Beaumaris in his place. Soon this news is all over London, and Arabella finds herself the target of every fortune hunter of the Season. Now she somehow has to contrive finding a man that will love her for herself and not her money, and manage to avoid the biggest scandal of the Season on top of it!

This book reminded me a lot of the story Cinderella. The fairy godmother, the journey to the ball Season in a carriage, the poor girl elevated to rich circumstances and falling into the lap of a prince, well not literally a prince, more like a prince of fashion. There the similarities end. I enjoyed this book of Georgette Heyer’s because, for the first time, it addressed the concerns of the lower classes. It depicted slums, orphans, abusive masters, and the very real and very harsh lives lead in the underside of London. Throughout the book Arabella tried to help these people even though it was considered scandalous, unbefitting, or beneath a young girl of her class to do so. She may have been considered a great heiress, but she was not a stranger to hard work, dedication to a cause, or to being truly concerned for people other than herself, regardless of their station in life.

My favorite part of this book though was how the two of them (Arabella and Mr. Beaumaris) got themselves deeper and deeper intro various kinds of trouble. Mr. Beaumaris supporting her story as true was what led to her elevation in society and all the problems thereafter. As part of him lending consequence to her he was often in her company and so often became the recipient of her attempts to better the world around her, first accepting a climbing boy into his service that was being beaten by his master, than a stray dog: Ulysses. Her innocence in not realizing that all of this was not precisely the norm made her actions, and insistence in treating all of the world with respect in the face of the regency’s hypocrisy on the subject, all the more sweet.

Arabella has been elevated to be one of my favorite novels by Georgette Heyer. I enjoyed reading the witty banter, the well constructed characters, and the engaging plot of this regency era take on the story of Cinderella. If you are all into stories of the regency than I think you will love it too.

One Response to Arabella

  1. Aarti
    11:53 am on December 8th, 2009

    What a full and interesting review! Neither Arabella nor Frederica ranks on my top Heyeroines (though Frederica is pretty amazing), but I enjoy those stories. My favorite Heyer (it’s so hard to choose) is probably Cotillion. OR Black Sheep. Or Talisman Ring. Well, clearly I can’t choose.

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