Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer

Cousin Kate cover

Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer was first published in 1968, so it was the third last of her books and for me it seemed quite different from her other romances. The actual romance part was more or less over by around the middle of the book, and there was a distinct lack of the witty repartee that I enjoy so much about her dialogue.

Kate Malvern has been brought up ‘following the drum’ as her father had been a professional soldier, her mother had died young, so Kate isn’t your average Regency lady. She has had to work as a governess to support herself and when she loses her job she has to move in with Mrs Nidd who was her nursemaid.

Sarah Nidd writes to Lady Broome who is Kate’s Aunt Minerva, asking if she can help her niece and the upshot is that Kate is taken by Lady Broome to stay at Staplewood, her large home. Her husband is Sir Timothy, a much older man and he has more or less withdrawn to his own wing of the house as his wife is an overbearing bully and he just won’t stand up to her. His only friend had been his nephew Philip, but Kate becomes the daughter that he had never had.

Kate realises that her aunt has an ulterior motive for her invitation to Stapleton, she wants Kate to marry her son Torquil. He’s completely in his mother’s control, he’s always had delicate health, but it’s his mental state that worries Kate. He has tantrums and generally behaves like a three year old and his mother employs Dr Delabole to dose him up when he has a turn. His mother is desperate for him to produce an heir, but it needs to be with a wife that would also be under the control of Minerva his mother, she thinks Kate would be the ideal wife. Kate thinks differently.

This book dragged for me a bit although I must admit it got a bit more interesting towards the end, but it isn’t one of her best, mainly because of the lack of humour and wit which I’ve come to expect from Heyer’s writing.

10 thoughts on “Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer

  1. I’ve only read one by her, Cotillion, and admired her wit and humour, so I’ll probably avoid this one, or read it when I know her books better 🙂

  2. I enjoyed this, but it does seem to be one that divides opinion. I liked the dark, gothic feel which makes it a bit different from her other books, but I agree that there’s not as much humour as you would normally expect from Heyer.

  3. This is not her best but I like Kate and the secondary characters are well done – Kate’s former nurse and her delightful father, Sir Timothy, Pennymore the devoted butler, and Philip’s friend Gurney. It’s true that Kate’s and Philip’s relationship develops without much fanfare, which is a pity, as I like him as a character.

    This book taught me as a teen never to trust anyone to mail a letter for me!

    • Constance,
      You can learn a lot from ‘light novels’. You’re right, there are some very good characters, Mrs Nidd, the nurse is a formidable female and takes no nonsense from anyone. I think I was just hoping for something a bit wittier.

  4. Yes, I felt the same about this one — it had a much darker feeling than I was expecting, almost Gothic. I wouldn’t recommend it to a Heyer newcomer but it was interesting.

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