Friday, January 18, 2013

Retro Friday Review: The Masqueraders

by Georgette Heyer

Retro Friday introduction: This great book blog called Angieville started a meme called "Retro Friday", where one reviews old favourites. I thought this would be a great chance to talk about books that I read before starting this blog and am now re-reading, and perhaps to redo old blog posts that are sadly lacking in quality. Without further ado, here is Angie's regular Retro Friday intro followed by my thoughts on "The Masqueraders", which I recently re-read.

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie @ Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be a favourite, an under the radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print etc.

Grade: 5 stars
Story summary: Two adventuring siblings on the run from their involvement in the Jacobite rebellion cross-dress in order to avoid detection. Then follows adventures! escapades! duels at midnight! love and romance! shenanigans!

Thoughts: This is one of my favourite Heyers, along with Cotillion, A Civil Contract, The Grand Sophy, and Friday's Child. And as with the rest, it surprised me how much I liked it. Romance (and Historical Romance) is not generally my "thing". But Heyer manages, with those five at least, to make it so fun and interesting that I actually rather love it. Cotillion and A Civil Contract because they are so unusual for Romances, The Grand Sophy because Sophy is indeed one of the Grandest things there is, and Friday's Child because I have rarely read a romp so innocent and fun and lovely.
With the The Masqueraders, my love is for the relationship between the brother and sister, Robin and Prudence. I love good, strong sibling relationships in fiction--there are FAR too few of them. And together these two dazzle and deceive the upper-class with their wit and consummate acting skills.

Really, it's just so darned fun. There are tons of stories out there with girls masquerading as boys (from Shakespeare to many a modern YA book), but rarely any with boys masquerading as girls. And usually if that does happen, it's because the male in question is particularly feminine in some way. But here, though both siblings are much better than normal at passing for the opposite sex, they truly shine as their own. Plus, did I mention the duels at midnight? And shenanigans?  And last but not least, Robin and Prudence's father. He. is. amazing. I think it would have been awesome to have a book about all three of them having adventures together before the events of this book.

One unfortunate downside is that it can be pretty darn confusing at the beginning, before everyone is revealed to be who they actually are. I know people who have stopped reading it right near the beginning because of this. But once you get past that, or once you're at the re-reading stage, it's alllll good.

P.S. Robin and Prudence are so awesome that they made it onto my list of Top Ten (Or So): Conmen.

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