Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle

Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle by Georgette Heyer

Publication Date: April 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: Paperback, 400pp
  1. ISBN-13: 9781402238802

(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Excerpt from
Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle


Rank, wealth, and elegance are no match for a young lady who writes novels...

Sylvester, Duke of Salford, has exacting requirements for a bride. Then he encounters Phoebe Marlow, a young lady with literary aspirations, and suddenly life becomes very complicated. She meets none of his criteria, and even worse, she was written a novel that is sweeping through the ton and causing all kinds of gossip... and he 's the main character!


Georgette Heyer is the beloved author of over fifty novels, many from the Regency period. Just about every historical romance writer today owes their success to this iconic novelist. Sourcebooks has re-released several Heyer's books including
Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle to a new audience, some who have never experienced her writing before. In this story that is reminiscent of Jane Austen's, Pride and Prejudice, readers are introduced to the formidable Duke of Salford, who is looking for a wife who fits a very strict criteria. A classic Regency romance by one of the great's!

Sylvester Rayne, Duke of Salford, has decided to get married. But he won't marry just any woman. He has some very strict standards for his bride to be and not many women could hope to measure up. When he first meets Phoebe Marlow he is sure she doesn't fit the mark. She seems dull and boring and certainly not what he's looking for. But when they meet again on a snowy night in a remote inn, he begins to realize just how wrong he was about her. Her intelligence is almost as piercing as her beautiful eyes and her fiery spirit is endearing. Phoebe didn't think much of Sylvester either when they first met, in fact she is so turned off by his arrogance and dry humor that she writes a story featuring a villain that is remarkable like the Duke of Salford. She too as a change of heart once she begins to get to know him better. But her book is being published and talked about all over London, if he figures out she is the writer it may destroy the tentative relationship they have started to build.

Georgette Heyer is one of the best when it comes to the Regency romance. She is often referred to as "the queen" of the Regency period and many of today's writer's consider her an inspiration. Her descriptive style and way of using dialogue is much like that of Jane Austen, also an iconic writer. One of the things that really enjoyed about
Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle was is similarity to the story of Lizzie and Darcy in Austen's, Pride and Prejudice. Upon first meeting Phoebe and Sylvester absolutely cannot stand each other. She finds him arrogant and pompous, and he finds her dull and boring. But as they begin to meet again the sparks start to fly. Phoebe isn't a wall flower and she isn't afraid of speaking her mind. While Sylvester may be a bit stiff, he is also misunderstood. I like the similarities in the story, but also the differences.

Phoebe and Sylvester's story is different in that Phoebe is secretly the writer of a Gothic novel that happens to be based on the Duke, or rather based on what she thought of him after their first meeting. When she realizes that behind all the facades, he is a remarkable man, she knows she can't let it come out that she is the author of the horrible book, "The Lost Heir" who's villain is surely based on the Duke, right down to his very formidable eye brows. But, as is often the case, the Duke finds out the truth and it threatens to tear them apart. I loved the way that Heyer used dialogue to move the story along. She did a fantastic job of allowing the reader to see what was happening rather than being told about it.

Heyer's descriptions of the Regency period are both rich and fitting. She tells readers about the rules of polite society in the Regency era, she describes the customs, the clothes and even what people were eating. She talks about the rooms in their houses and how they got around town. What was expected of the Duke and the Duchess he would marry. She is very thorough when it comes to the 'ton' and how they conducted themselves. I think readers will appreciate Heyer's use of period language and decorum.

New readers to Heyer's work, probably wonder what all the fuss is about, but once they've experienced a novel like
Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle they will certainly understand. Few people write like this anymore. It's all about flash and steamy bedroom scenes, instead of the true depth of the story. It's easy to see why Heyer is still considered a master of the genre even today, long after her death. Her books evoke a lot of emotion and a deeper sense of loyalty and honor that doesn't exist today. I think readers will be nostalgic when reading her books and think back to a simpler more decadent time.

Fans of Heyer will be thrilled that Sourcebooks is bringing back some of Heyer's most beloved books.
Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle is definitely one of favorites, next to The Black Moth, Heyer's first novel. I would recommend this one to fans to Heyer and to readers who have yet to try her work. This is an evenly paced novel that does not seem rushed or too slow. Heyer's descriptions are genius and will make the reader feel as if they are touching the fabric of the dresses or feeling the wind from the carriage windows. Her characters are classic and complex. Her plot is masterful and full of surprises. I loved it, and I know you will too!

Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Georgette Heyer wrote over fifty novels, including Regency romances, mysteries, and historical fiction. She was known as the Queen of Regency romance, and was legendary for her research, historical accuracy, and her extraordinary plots and characterization.


Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

awesome review! I'm reading this one now. I like it SO much more than the other heyer book i read this month.

Mystica said...

This is one of the best GH books.