Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Georgette Heyer - Cotillion

Meet Kitty Charing: young, beautiful--and penniless...
The three great nephews of Mr. Penicuik know better than to ignore his summons, especially when it concerns the bestowal of his fortune. The wily old gentleman has hatched a freakish plan for his stepdaughter's future: his fortune will by Kitty Charing's dowry. To Kitty, the conditions of her guardian's will were intolerable. She had to marry one of his nephews before she could inherit a tuppence. The only nephew she wanted was handsome and virile Jack Westruther, who, however, made it quite clear that he would marry her only when he had sown his last wild oat.
But while the nephews are scrambling for her hand, Kitty has other ideas... To escape the unwelcome attentions of greedy suitors and anxious to hasten matters, Kitty pretends to become engaged to Freddy Stanton, Jack's modest and resourceful cousin, hoping thereby to make Jack jealous. But carefree Freddie turned out to be more of a man than Kitty anticipated--man enough to light the fuse that exploded her carefully laid plans...

Comment: The last book I've had to read by the author. This is a book about learning the value of doing things quietly and that just because something looks a certain way, it doesn't mean it's exactly like that.

This is the story of Kitty, a young woman living with her uncle, although he isn't her relative, he took her when her father died because he cared for her mother once. Her uncle Matthew is a rich but avaricious man and he wants to leave his fortune to Kitty and one his nephews, but only if one of them marries Kitty. Kitty has always had a crush on one of the cousins but he doesn't come to the uncle's summons to know about his will so Kitty meets by chance Freddie, another cousin and with him, they form a plan to deceive other by saying they're betrothed, although everything is a lie. Kitty goes to London with Freddie and spends many time with Freddie's sister Meg, and while there she grows up and she tries her best to help others and their problems and at the same time she starts to realize quiet Freddie is a much better man than others who are rakes and don't always say the truth.

I liked the book but I have to confess this author has two main problems that make it very hard for me to completely enjoy her books. First, the language. English is not my maternal language and it's very natural I can't understand every word and expression because I've only started learning English in the 7th grade (I was 12). And like in most countries, American English (AmE)is more global and accessible than British English (BrE) although in school we learn the grammar by the BrE rules. Therefore, many things still make me think but I also admit, I don't use the dictionary that often to know a word, only when I'm really clueless or curious. Mostly, I just infer what it means by the context in which it shows up and usually I get the meaning and don't feel I'm losing the purpose of that word in the text. Of course, as BrE is not heard so often as AmE (films, songs and tv shows help) it gets more difficult to follow a conversation in BrE. I guess the issue of dialects is sort of the same, there are many words within a certain language that can depend on the region they're spoken and for foreigners it can be tricky. So, my difficulty happens if I'm reading a text that's not only in BrE but old BrE.
The author uses many colloquialisms from the Regency times and in BrE. Not a bad thing but for someone who can't perceive all the little things, it kind of doesn't have the same impact. And also it makes the book not only hard to read but boring because I have to decipher many things and it slows me down a lot.
However, I don't let it stop me and keep going. I guess I could read in Portuguese, after all the words at least would be simpler to understand, but since I've started reading in English, I can't seem to enjoy translations that much, except in certain cases - exactly more challenging books, in terms of language.

Now, onto the second issue I have...the author has an unique voice, very sarcastic at times, and I welcome that but she takes too long to make the story more alive, more interesting. It happened in this book and the two previous ones I've read, only after half way through the book something happened that grabbed my attention and made me eager to finish...it's like half the book is just to..fill up pages. Maybe it's me - which I believe so - but if this happens to all her books than I don't foresee much will to go through it or to play guessing games about which book will meet my preferences and which don't.

About this story, like I said I liked (after reading half the book) and the story was really interesting, I liked how Kitty learned to grow up, to see who are the people to keep close and those who are better away and most important, I enjoyed the secondary love stories Kitty helped solve but in the end it was Freddie who had the key to make everything right. I especially liked how they helped a cousin that they knew wasn't the brightest and only wanted to take care of his horses and be in a farm. However, society treated him badly, made fun of him and he had to endure it for appearances. I found this issue the most intriguing one and I suppose back then many people who might not be the most intelligent would suffer so much and be treated and threatened because of that. Why go back so much, even today it happens. Still, a victory of the good hearts and for that only the book redeemed itself to me.
Kitty and Freddie's plan was good but they had to deal with so many people, so many dodging that it soon looked like it was for real. I liked their boldness and how they complemented each other, and if it begun with a plan I liked how easy it showed their feelings getting stronger and more real for the other.

Nevertheless, I'm wondering how much I want to keep reading the books but for now I'll have a break, perhaps someday I'll get back to the others, after all there are still half a dozen titles I'm very curious about.

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