Monday, 2 July 2018

Venetia by Georgette Heyer

Venetia by Georgette Heyer
First published by William Heinemann in the UK in 1958. Audiobook narrated by Richard Armitage published by Naxos in April 2010.

V for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

How I got this book:
Bought the audiobook from Audible

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderfully witty and entertaining Regency romance by one of the best-known and most beloved historical novelists of all time.

In all her twenty-five years, lovely Venetia Lanyon has never been further than Harrogate, nor enjoyed the attentions of any but her two wearisomely persistent suitors. Then, in one extraordinary encounter, she meets a neighbour she only knows by reputation - the infamous Lord Damerel - and before she knows better, is egging on a libertine whose way of life has scandalised the North Riding for years.

Yet again Georgette Heyer shows the qualities that made her one of the most successful and best-loved romantic novelists of her age, and why her popularity endures to this day.

I first listened to this audio version of Venetia, read by Richard Armitage, back in January 2011 and my brief review from back then said: "This version is abridged from the original novel which I (still) have not read, but I did not feel that I was missing out at all. The story is great fun with lots of twists and turns before its resolution, and the characters are both believable and interesting. Armitage is a fabulous narrator, able to voice each character appropriately and distinctly, which definitely added to my enjoyment of the book."

Seven and a half years later, my enjoyment during this relisten was not at all diminished. Armitage's voice may head a little towards pantomime dame when voicing Aunt Maria but I could picture her as such an outlandishly 'fashionable' creation so this worked for me. His lowered tones for the rake, Lord Damerel, are simply delicious!

I went through a Georgette Heyer stage in my early teens because Mum was a fan and owned a couple of dozen of her novels. (She had lots of Dennis Wheatley and Helen Forrester too which probably explains my wide-ranging reading tastes now!) I vaguely remember most of the heroines being, or at least wanting to appear to be, essentially helpless whenever the man of their dreams strode into view. Venetia isn't like that at all. Scandalously independent thanks to her unsupervised upbringing, she competently runs her family's ancestral estate, spars on equal verbal terms with the depraved Damerel and, (SLIGHT SPOILER!) when disaster strikes, Saves Herself! Yes!

As I mentioned, this audiobook is abridged and runs about five hours. Consequently, I assume, we have all the best characters and plots with little, if any, filler - if there was any originally. I don't know. Heyer's characters are superb. Memorable and great fun, I think the supporting cast made this story for me just as much as its central romance. Probably unfairly I consider Georgette Heyer my guilty pleasure because Regency Romances are considerably lighter than my usual reading fare, but when they're this well done, who cares!

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  1. so I'm still in a semi-slump and all I'm doing is audio and this is only 5 hrs! yay and I have been craving historicals AND romance AND this is a five stars re-rad?? SOUNDS LIKE A WINNER! :)

    1. Absolutely a winner! I am sure you would love Venetia :-)

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed this so much on your second listen. Great Review!

    Tori @ In Tori Lex

  3. I am a total Heyer fan. Venetia is in my top five favs and I have it in print and audio. Sadly, I still need to experience Armitage reading the abridged version. Love his voice!

    Glad the re-listen was just as wonderful, Stephanie!

    1. I've got the Armitage recording of Sylvester too but am rationing myself!

  4. "Scandalously independent"

    Now that's my kind of heroine. :D Glad it held up after all those years.