Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sheri Cobb South: The Weaver Takes a Wife

The Weaver Takes a Wife: A+
Lady Helen Radney & Ethan Brundy

It is easy to understand why Regency romances are so popular with women. Like Cinderella, Pamela, and Jane Eyre, the heroines in these books labor on, unappreciated, until a wealthy aristocrat happens along, recognizes their true worth, and whisks them off to his world of wealth, privilege, and abundant hired help. Although Sheri Cobb South calls her new novel a Regency romance, The Weaver Takes a Wife is not typical of the genre. In this case, the heroine is an aristocrat, the daughter of a duke, while the hero is an orphan without a pedigree. All that Ethan Brundy has to recommend his as a husband is the wealth he derives from his textile mill in Lancashire. One of the reasons the characters are so believable is that...all of them speak exactly as they would have during the Regency period. South is at her best when she lets her characters reveal themselves in dialogue. Occasionally, the novel moves toward melodrama, but fortunately the author soon returns to her comic mode, or even to farce, as in the final episode. The Weaver Takes a Wife is really too good a book to be dismissed as a Regency romance; it deserves to be described as a novel of manners in the Austen tradition. (First Draft, amazon)

I read Ms. South's other novel, Of Paupers and Peers, and was completely engrossed in the story. The dialogue was rich, the characters real, the romance genuine, and the story - completely compelling.

Therefore, I did what any other reader would do:

I went online to my library system and requested for all her other novels. I believe this is what you would call "glomming."

I'm a big, fat glommer.
And I was not disappointed.

In The Weaver Takes a Wife, we are introduced to despicably haughty and sharp-tongued Lady Helen Radney, the daughter of a Duke, whose bloodlines go back some eight-hundred years. She's mean, she "sniffs her nose in disdain," and, of course, is beautiful.

It is during a play that Mr. Ethan Brundy sees Helen and falls in love with her. He is determined ot marry her and lets his two friends (both peers) know.

They think he's joking.
Then they're scared for him when they realize he's not.

You see, Ethan is an orphan who was raised by a Mr. Brundy, the owner of textile mills. Ethan learns the skill of the trade, then inherits the mills. He is fabulously wealthy, but speaks with a cockneyed accent, immediately revealing himself to have originated from the lower class.

When he gets one of his friends to introduce him to Helen, she is disgusted.
She sniffs her nose at him and mocks him - subtly. He doesn't realize that he is being mocked. If he does, he ignores it admirably.

Unfortunately for Helen, her father has made poor investments and is a gambler: their financial situation is dire.

Ethan, in love with Helen, asks for her hand. Her father mandates she marries him because of his profound wealth. This is her response:

"Mr. Brundy, you are no doubt as well acquainted with my circumstances as I am with yours, so let us not beat about the bush. I have a fondness for the finer things in life, and I suppose I always will. As a result, I am frightfully expensive to maintain. I have already bankrupted my father, and have no doubt I should do the same to you, should you be so foolhardy as to persist in the desire for such a union. Furthermore, I have a shrewish disposition and a sharp tongue. My father, having despaired of seeing me wed to a gentleman of my own class, has ordered me to either accept your suit or seek employment. If I married you, it would only be for your wealth, and only because I find the prospect of marriage to you preferable - but only slightly! - to the life of a governess or a paid companion. If, knowing this, you still wish to marry me, why, you have only to name the day."

Having delivered herself of this speech, Lady Helen waited expectantly for Mr. Brundy's stammering retraction. Her suitor pondered her words for a long moment, then made his response.

"'ow about Thursday?"

Ahhhh! Ethan Brundy is my hero!

This 232 page, double-spaced read (amazingly) encompasses true romance.

Ethan loves Helen. He is so kind to her, he is patient with her, and he realizes that underneath Helen's bitchy nature, there is a woman to be loved.

He pursues her - determinedly.
He endures her jibes.

And best of all, he slowly has Helen falling in love with him. (A Cit! A low-class worker! Gasp!)

Isn't that what romance is all about?

Furthermore, Ms. South's writing is truly authentic to the Regency time (I repeat: very Jane Austen-esque). It's romantic without being explicitly graphic. It made me giggle, it made me sigh, it made me love Ethan.

A must read for any fan of romance, Jane Austen, and loooooove.

1 comment:

Linore Rose Burkard said...

Thanks for the heads up on this great sounding book! From one book lover to another (but especially regencies, of course!).