A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer

Penguin, 2011, 671p.

A Civil Contract cover

A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer was first published in 1961 and it’s quite different from her other books as there’s really not much in the way of humour in it, no witty repartee between couples. There’s a lot of history in it, but it’s never dry. Apparently Georgette Heyer hated this book and she had a very tough time writing it. The problem was that her mother was seriously ill and in fact dying while she was writing it, so it would have been strange if she had been able to write in her normal fashion. I’d like to be able to tell her how much I enjoyed it though, in fact I think it’s my favourite so far, despite the fact that I so enjoy her more usual witty dialogue.

A Civil Contract features Adam, Lord Lynton, a young man who has only just come into his title after the death of his father. His father had been a spendthrift, womaniser and a gambler and has left nothing but debts. The only way out of the mess his father has left him with is to sell the family estate. Adam’s mother is dead against that and he isn’t keen on it himself.

Adam’s lawyer knows a way out of the problem – he suggests to Adam that he can arrange a marriage between him and the daughter of a very wealthy businessman whose ambition is for his only child to marry into the aristocracy.

So – very different from Heyer’s more usual romantic relationships and the upshot is a more realistic progress of the development of a marriage.

Sometimes music accompanies me in my mind as I read a book and with this one it was Mama Cass’s It’s Getting Better. Completely inappropriate for a Gerorgian setting I know but the sentiment is the same. It occurs to me that you have to be of a certain age to remember Mama Cass though!

8 thoughts on “A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer

  1. I enjoyed this one. No romp, no cringeworthy misunderstandings. Reasonable, decent people who take a chance. I’m sure it’s on my shelves somwhere.

  2. this is one of my favorites. I reread it regularly. It isn’t as light and witty as many of her others but I enjoy seeing the characters and their relationships develop.

  3. This is one of my favourite books, I loved Jenny as a character. It’s odd that my favourite Georgette Heyer books tend to be the atypical ones. I also loved Cotillion which I can highly recommend if you haven’t read it yet.

    • Lindsay,
      Jenny is a great character. Thanks, I haven’t read Cotillion yet. I buy her books whenever I see them in secondhand bookshops but I don’t think I have that one yet.

  4. I haven’t read this one yet but I will eventually as I’m working through all of Heyer’s novels. It does sound quite different from most of her others, so I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it so much.

    • Helen,
      I think you’ll really enjoy it when you get around to it. I’m trying to collect all of her books and prefer the old hardbacks. I’m so annoyed that when my Granny’s house was ‘cleared’ I didn’t take her Heyer collection. I thought then that she was an author that only really old ladies would enjoy.

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