Faro's Daughter - Georgette Heyer book club no. 12

(35 Posts)
LeonieDeSainteVire Fri 02-Nov-12 23:01:45

In which many deeply improbable events occur: a very rich and unattractive man turns out to be our hero complete with kind heart; a feisty young women involved in running a gambling den eventually collapses in tears and realises all she wants is a man's strong arms around her; same feisty young woman spends whole novel declaring she hates the man only she doesn't really; same woman again persuades gently born girl whom she has never previously met to run away from home; very rich man is kidnapped, manages to escape and this apparently makes him fall in love with his captor.

It's all just so unlikely it becomes irritating. Max's transformation I can just about live with although I do not think he would have forgiven Deb the kidnapping but Deb drives me wild. It is not possible to think you hate someone, find them loathsome, then actually realise you're in love. It doesn't work that way and I don't care if it's a literary device widely used it is very annoying. Whilst we are at it, burning through a rope tied round your wrists, I doubt it, with a candle?? As for the rest, Adrian is wet, Phoebe is worse, is she the most irritating girl so far? I think so! Lucius is a plot device with a cod Irish accent and so unlikely. The only one I have time for is Lady Bellingham who is funny.

Oh, and the worst bit, the bit that nearly made me through it across the room . . . When Adrian says something about Deb not needing a man to protect her and she thinks sadly about how wrong he is - aaargh! She's as wet as Phoebe really.

So, am I wrong? What do others think?

LeonieDeSainteVire Fri 02-Nov-12 23:02:40

They think (I hope) she meant throw not through smile

I love Lady Bellingham and the exorbitant price of peas. Its the way that she is rather wistful that Deb won't embark on an affair as everything would all be so much easier if she did. Deb's ribbons and the vulgar widow at Vauxhall make me hoot too.

The whole point is that Deb doesn't hate Max or find him loathsome at all, in fact the opposite. He just really pisses her off when he leaps in with his assumption that she's a whore. When he invites her for a drive, she's all fluttery and happy - then he treads all over her and she gets mad. But she never loathes him - she's just bluffing it out - to herself as much as anyone else. Its GH'd attempt at a Beatrice/Benedict.

Agreed that Lucius is clunky as a plot device as it Kit being in love with Max's sister. But I think the picture of Adrian in the throes of calf love is quite touching and well drawn. Phoebe is vile but its not dissimilar to Perry & Harriet - and you see it going the same way - except it'll be Julian who gradually becomes disillusioned with her.

I have no problems with the burning through ropes - its a frothy novel - and its all supposed to be a shade ludicrous. Its certainly no more melodramatic that an the twists and turns of These Old Shades.

<toddler interruption>

MooncupGoddess Sun 04-Nov-12 13:21:43

Haven't read Faro's Daughter for some time, and it's not one of my favourites, but (like all GH's novels of this period) it's an interesting transitional one, the last set in the 1790s. Max and Deborah prefigure Serena and Ivo in Bath Tangle - both dominant personalities who want everything their way and fight a lot with sexual tension just underneath the surface. And there is not one but two wet younger couples, who like all of their successors are basically quite dull.

I like the setting in a gaming house; GH inherits her affection for gambling scenes from the earlier historical novelists (Baroness Orczy etc) but I think that by Faro's Daughter she is not romanticising them any more (as she did in Devil's Cub, say, or The Masqueraders). She sheds an interesting light on the business realities involved and from now on portrays serious gambling as unequivocally a Bad Thing (cf Friday's Child, The Grand Sophy, Arabella etc).

CreamolaFoamFan Wed 07-Nov-12 22:42:38

Can I join in? I've been lurking for a bit but Georgette is my go-to author in times of trouble. Or anytime, really.

I did like this book , but oh, the Oirishness. Maybe it's because I find it almost unreadable in any book when people write in cod-Irish or -Scottish accents, but anyway, it drives me bats. I have to skim over anything Lucius says. I shall peruse my copy again and come up with something more intelligent soon.

sarahtigh Fri 09-Nov-12 15:24:26

I think Max is in love/lust with Deborah and although he likes her spirit he wants to be master and win everytime, I am not sure she really likes him certainly not at first. I think he makes her very very angry and not sure her succumbing is entirely believable I see that she would not want arabella involved and would tell him, but that she would sudenly see he was the knightr in shining armour is a bit unbelievable

I think both her and her aunt actually hate gambling, what often happens when out of choice or necessity a hobby becmones a job, agree with mooncup a more realistic view of gambling, not really one of my favourites though the grand sophy is and sophy v charles as well as serana v ivo is believable

Marking place. Thought I'd lost you!

Will read ASAP and jump in. I love the dungeon bit though, and am slightly in love with brother Kit which is why DS2 was nearly Christopher nn Kit.

(and, ahem, have been very busy re-reading Sylvester along with my new audiobook which Leonie will know about. Have "more GH audio books" on my Christmas list. Richard Armitage isn't a great reader, I have to be honest, but it's a lovely way to consume GH books when the children are around)

Ah man I read this this afternoon - sped through it in under two hours.

Why do I remember Kit as a nice character? He's a bit two-dimensional and feeble. It's probably the red coat.

RIGHT toddler is sleeping for now, shame he didn't think of that at 4am.

Faro's Daughter is dominantly a novel about money and mercenary power - inasmuch as money==power in the period, which of course it did.

Pride & Prejudice is set in pretty much exactly the same period and every single decision and romance in it is based on money/position/land. It is easier to be sympathetic when we recall that the only women who possess anything are widows - all these blasted guardians and trustees and brothers and husbands control all the money, and therefore the women. Lady Bel has been given charge of her money and throws it all away, so the only option available to her is the gaming house. We hear from Lady Mablethorpe that this decision has put her quite beyond the pale with the ladies of society - although interestingly the gentlemen will still patronise her, if not recognise her in the street. It is so desperately isolating and sad.

On the other hand, the decisions and traps for women because of money are frightening: Phoebe Laxton has to marry to rescue her family from poverty (like the Winwoods as previously discussed) and Arabella Ravenscar has to be careful not to use her fortune to rescue someone else from poverty. It's tremendously hypocritical, it occurs to me, and GH is rightly cynical about it. The transactional nature of so many GH marriages is absolutely explicit (the Rules, the Cardrosses and the Lyntons in particular) and even love matches such as we see in Faro's Daughter are still underpinned by money and transaction. All the women in this novel are for sale.

We also see how money can be mitigation for sin or vulgarity - Sally Something (didn't mark the page, drat) is as badly behaved as Lady Bel, but vastly richer, so she is still received in society, but Lady Bel has not managed to buy her way back in, despite eg the £400 opera box. The appearance of wealth is again so desperately important.

I don't mind that characters are reused (eg Kit being in love with Arabella, Lucius in turn trying to run off with her) because it is rather tighter than having a lot of secondary characters none of whom does very much. I would actually have preferred it to be Ormskirk racing Ravenscar and holding out for Phoebe Laxton as it would have been neater, and also much more interesting re Lady Bel's views on having Phoebe in the house. I think GH does this far better in these later novels, whereas earlier on there were far more loose ends.

I was also taken by the recurrent themes of punishment, debt and revenge. The novel is quite hot on honour and giving one's word, and utterly unforgiving of anyone who breaches those rules. Ravenscar and Deborah are constantly talking about punishing one another for the honour breaches each inflicts on the other, although in fact each misses several prime opportunities to do so. These unwritten rules which seem so old-fashioned now, and probably did to a reasonable extent when GH was writing, are so utterly ingrained in people of this class (because with IIRC three exceptions we read about the Ton only) that it severely constrains their behaviour.

I feel on re-reading that Kit Grantham is a sort of placemarker. GH needs him for the plot, but doesn't take a great deal of care in fleshing him out. He is her standard thoughtlessly but not unkindly selfish young gentleman that we see over and over again. He is honourable and ambitious but not driven.

Finally, some of the bits I chortled at out loud:

So [Deborah] let [Adrian] kiss her, which he did rather inexpertly.

Mrs Patch, the improbable blonde of uncertain years, with a very much painted face, a singularly penetrating voice, and a laugh which made Mablethorpe wince.

LeonieDeSainteVire Wed 14-Nov-12 08:16:14

<<wonders if Horatia's toddler has been talking to my toddler re the desirability of waking one's parent in the early hours hmm >>

I'm so glad, Horatia you came back and revised your earlier opinion of Kit, I read your earlier post and thought shock and didn't know how to respond grin

I agree about the role of money in the whole of life in this period and it is a reminder of just how limited women's options were then. It's actually very scary to think about and the miserable lives of well born women reduced to being companions or governesses is something GH returns to again and again, it obviously bothered her too. Deb is feisty and doesn't want to be forced to accept an unwanted carte blanche but realistically, what would have been her other choices had Max not come along? She was ruined socially by working in a gaming den and had no means of supporting herself.

With regards to the money/gambling, I don't think we should be too hard on Lady B, she can't manage her money but she was by no means alone in that! The reality of men ruining their entire families at the gaming table was, if not common, far from unknown in this period. You can really see why there was a later social back lash against extreme gambling and the almost puritanical moral code of the Victorians (although more middle class and often over exaggerated) must have been a response to some of these personal and social disasters.

I have just been reading Cotillion and the French cousin in that goes back to run his gaming house very happily and it is portrayed as exciting so it's not quite true to say GH always shows gaming in a harsh light after this.

Glad you are enjoying your audiobook Horatia, LadyD and I and others are always happy to convert another willing victim to the joys of RA's speaking voice and his face, and his body!

DilysPrice Wed 14-Nov-12 09:03:26

Excellent stuff Horatia. I feel nervous about commenting now smile, but that's never stopped me before.

I think because it's not a Regency novel she allows herself more dramatic licence with the plotting (the kidnapping, Phoebe running away) and also takes the arranged marriages / threat of prostitution further than she would in a novel set later - we're in no doubt that Ormskirk is the most realistic fate for Deb. Actually I think it would have weaker if Ormskirk had also been Phoebe's suitor - it would have made him too much of a mustachio-twirling villain to be attempting to buy a child bride and a mistress simultaneously, and also I think Sir James is meant to be physically repulsive, which Ormskirk isn't. Ormskirk is a realistic threat, and Lady B pines after him as the solution to all their problems, because he's respectable, reasonable, he has a code, he's slightly attractive. There's a sprinkling of these men throughout Heyer - attractive and classy but fundamentally immoral. Sometimes, like Avon and Rule, they get redeemed, sometimes they don't, but they normally don't get any punishment apart from losing the girl.

Plus Filey is (and has to be) too rich for Ravenscar to have won the mortgage off him, so that part of the plot wouldn't work without a major fix.

All this talk of money has made me think - how many Heyer heroes aren't filthy rich? Adam in a Civil Contract of course (though he has to become so in order to have a happy ending). And Charles in Infamous Army. Sherry in Friday's Child (our next book?) Who else?

LeonieDeSainteVire Wed 14-Nov-12 09:47:06

I don't think there are any heroes really on their uppers (except Adam) but quite a few where money is or could be problem - Charles in The Grand Sophy is having to try to repair the damage done by his father although he has had an inheritance himself there is still talk of years of careful management ahead. Jack in Tollgate is comfortably off but definitely not rich. False Colours is all about their money problems IIRC? Are there more? Personally I like the fabulously rich ones, it makes the escapism even more extreme - diamond studded heels anyone smile

MooncupGoddess Wed 14-Nov-12 13:53:45

Yes, they are mostly vair rich. Even those who don't initially seem well off (Hugo in The Unknown Ajax and Miles in Black Sheep) turn out to be rolling in it, in both cases through trade. And even Sherry in Friday's Child has a massive inheritance on the way. A few (eg Carlyon in The Reluctant Widow, and I think Gervase in The Quiet Gentleman) seem to be just reasonably well-off minor nobility, but most heroes are actually idenitified as having masses of loot.

I think it would just seem wrong to have a hero who was going to rely on the heroine for money. Apart from A Civil Contract where of course that's the cornerstone of the plot, and is not 'traditionally romantic' for that reason.

I imagine Ormskirk would have "run" Deb and Phoebe simultaneously - one as a sexy mistress, and one as a dutiful wife. He hints to Ravenscar that that is what he is after. He is only just not ruthless enough not to try to ruin Lady Bel, and that's because other people would have found out, rather than because he thinks it a bad thing per se.

RA is a demi-god so I was bitterly disappointed at his inability to act whilst reading. The voices are awful. I think I miss the very GH-style flashing eyes. Shame he's wearing a false nose in this picture otherwise it would be very swoonsome.

I think the heroes generally are hilariously rich, or certainly by our standards if not their own. Often GH portrays them as attractive/kind/interesting despite their wealth (in fairness, she does the same of women).

LeonieDeSainteVire Thu 15-Nov-12 21:40:04

Horatia I think this is the picture you should be looking at whilst listening to your audio book wink

Radio 4's 'A good read' discussed Faro's Daughter on Tuesday! I've only just heard it, interesting but I think our discussions are better - see what you think!

LeonieDeSainteVire Thu 15-Nov-12 21:41:18

Oh, linky thing possibly! It may work . . .

LadyDamerel Thu 15-Nov-12 22:08:47

I hated Faro's Daughter the first time I read it and skimmed most of it just to get to the end, but I thought I'd give it another shot for this.

I still hated it though, it definitely languishes at the bottom of my GH pile and I can't quite put my finger on why I dislike it so much. It's more than just finding nothing likeable about any of the characters or finding the plot preposterous; there's something about it that feels quite un-GH-like. It seems much clunkier than her usual writing and the laugh out loud funny bits are missing.

Can't wait to start on Friday's Child though....

Friday's Child is absolutely one of my favourites, even though Sherry is such an arse throughout.

Leonie, where's that picture from? DEFINITELY fits the audiobook although his ears are odd.

DilysPrice Fri 16-Nov-12 14:24:35

Have just listened to A Good Read podcast, thanks Leonie. I used to like Peter White, but angry honestly, anyone who can say that Friday's Child, Devil's Cub and Faro's Daughter have all got the same plot is no longer my friend, pioneering work on disability advocacy or not grin.

LeonieDeSainteVire Fri 16-Nov-12 14:44:14

Oh I agree Dilys I was shock when he said that. In fact I may have argued with the radio at that point!

Horatia it's from North and South, and his ears are not odd. smile

I think it's just the background. He looks like ... well, like a Hobbit.

thewhistler Fri 16-Nov-12 21:11:20

Only just found this and haven't reread FD yet. I have gone through phases, loving it to begin with, being amused and yes, titillated by the desire for mastery, and finding Lady B delightful, the antithesis of Caroline Massey. And rather liking Adrian, when I was 16, although Max was obviously the hero by whom one wanted to be mastered.

Then later, just irritated by the sparring. I don't enjoy ivo and Serena much for the same reason now. Or indeed Judith Taverner so much. Kit I never found interesting, but I always wanted to know whom Arabella married.

On the code of honour, yes it has gone. But 20 or so years ago I was involved in something where someone was blackballed from his club and thrown out if his regiment. He committed suicide immediately afterwards. And my own great grandmother's first husband "had a shooting accident", I think he may have been caught cheating at cards. (Had he been found in bed with another woman no one would have cared, another man and there would have been a separation and he would have gone to live on the continent.) So the honour thing rings true to me.

The cod accent is infuriating. But I do find Deb appealing when she implores Max to listen and says men of his stamp are very fascinating. You realise what a very hard life she has had.

I will now go to read it again and see what I think this time.

LadyDamerel Mon 19-Nov-12 19:51:43

grin at Horatia thinking RA looks like a Hobbit. I think you'll find he's more of a dwarf, actually wink.

This one's better, although the cravat isn't quite right for a GH hero.

Sylvester is my favourite out of the 3 audio GHs he's done. His Venetia sounds nothing like the Venetia in my head, plus the abridging has meant vast swathes have been left out which annoys me as I've read the book so many times I know what's missing, so I've only listened to it the once.

When are we starting Friday's Child? I need to start marking all my favourite bits.

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