The Hollow

The Hollow, Part 1: Lucinda by John Scudamore

I received a copy of The Hollow to review for The Historical Novel Society Online. I generally choose books that might interest me when the selection list goes around, and this one was described as an Austen-like romance with timeslip elements. I though, I like timetravel fiction. I like Austen. I’ll choose that one as one of my possibilities.

When it arrived, I was duly intrigued by the cover and the back blurb. I started reading it right away.

While not perfect, I was pleasantly surprised by the novel and found myself absorbed by the Scudamore’s treatment of female sexuality. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

If I had to describe this book in one sentence, this is what I would say: It’s a Regency Romance that is more Sarah Waters than Jane Austen.

It’s not perfect, there are anachronisms in the language and description, but the dialog is interesting and raises all kinds of thoughts about female self-discovery for all its lack of perfect, Regency polish.

The narrative follows the sexual awakening of Celia and Lucy, cousins and friends learning how to navigate the strictures that society places on ladies of good breeding. Joined by Alice, Celia’s faithful and knowledgeable maid, these two begin to learn about all those things that make them “tingle”.

That’s one side of the story… The other side involves the Hollow, a place of evil according to local legend, and the arrival of Manfred–a perfectly ordinary twenty-first century physicist who suddenly finds himself transported to Regency England.

Manfred stirs up plenty of trouble in his ignorance of Regency manners, but his involvement in the plot almost seems like an afterthought. That said, I haven’t read the next two books in the trilogy, so I can’t be sure how his part will evolve in the series, but I was much more intrigued by the relationship between Celia, Alice, and Lucy before Manfred became involved in their affair.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel. This is an independently published novel; there were a few typographical errors, but these were few and far between, so they weren’t distracting. I think this might be more appealing to fans of Sarah Waters and Diana Gabaldon than Austen (there is plenty of steamy, feminine romance).

You can find The Hollow, Part 1 at The Book Depository.

The Grand Sophy has arrived

Though I have been meaning to read her works for a while, The Grand Sophy is my first time reading Georgette Heyer and it certainly won’t be my last. After browsing several reviews and blurbs, I finally settled on The Grand Sophy from Heyer’s many novels and was not disappointed.

When Sir Horace Stanton-Lacy prepares to journey to Brazil, he leaves his darling Sophy in the care of her aunt, Lady Ombersley, but little do the Ombersleys know that the “Grand Sophy” will soon turn their quiet home life upside down! Unapologetically wilful and intrepid, Sophy arrives in a house turned dismal by debt and ill-chosen matches. Sophy’s eldest cousins, Cecilia and Charles have made up their minds to marry persons who are all wrong for them, as Sophy soon discovers. There is nothing else for it, it is up to Sophy to make things right and restore her family’s former happiness.

Reading Georgette Heyer’s Regency romance is often said to be the next best thing to reading Jane Austen and I can now see why. Sophy is definitely a young lady who would be right at home among the Bennet sisters, her humor and candid nature making her fit fight in with Austen’s heroines. I loved Sophy’s personality and her seeming naivet√©; she comes across as entirely unassuming but somehow manages to make everyone do exactly what she wills. Her rollicking, yet carefully planned [mis]adventures with her cousin Charles and Lord Charlbury are some of the funniest moments in the novel, and the ending is sweet and fitting.

Enchanting Pleasures

I have realized that if I am going to be a proper librarian, I need to be familiar with all manner of genres. With that in mind, I delved into the Romance section of my local Borders, had a mild panic attack, and fled. I’m exaggerating, but I honestly had no idea what to do with the hundreds of books (many featuring oiled, manly chests on their covers). As one of the most read popular genres, the selection is wide and I am a Romance virgin. Other than a couple of Nora Roberts and Catherine Cooksons, I haven’t really explored this genre so it took a lot of browsing before I finally made my selection…

Eventually I picked Eloisa James’s Enchanting Pleasures, a Regency romance with a very sedate pink cover… not a muscled chest in sight. The tagline on the cover reads “A Novel of Scandals, Seductions, and Forbidden Delights” and it really was a delightful read.

The plot is silly, pure fluff, but Gabby Jerningham, the heroine of the story, is a fun and spirited character whose antics move the plot along at a fast pace.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Shipped off to England to meet her betrothed, Gabby leaves India in the company of young Miss Phoebe and Prince Kasi Rao. A talented storyteller, Gabby keeps the children busy aboard the vessel with tales of India and her dreams for a happy marriage. But all is not well in England. Gabby has been promised to Peter Dewland, who most assuredly does not look forward to marriage with a backward girl from India. While Peter agonizes over his filial responsibilities, his brother Quill struggles to overcome the shattering migraines that have plagued him for years. Neither brother is prepared for the changes that Gabby’s arrival will signal. When Gabby’s charms prove to be too much for Peter’s fashionable sensibilities, it’s up to Quill to handle the matter, and he’s more than happy to oblige.

I have to admit that my expectations were not very high for the novel, Quill’s condition is exacerbated by er… sexual congress… so I was expecting a very fanciful plot with lots of gratuitous sex, but this was not the case. The plot was engaging and interesting, some of the elements were fanciful, but it did not detract from the story. At times, Gabby almost reminds me of Catherine Morland, her imagination gets her into all sorts of sticky situations.