The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer

 The Talisman Ring cover

The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer was first published in 1936. This book doesn’t feature on my 20 Books of Summer list but I really needed a book to cheer me up. The news pandemical and political is bad enough, but the days and days of constant rain just about pushed me over the edge. I knew that a Georgette Heyer book would hit the spot, accompanied by some chocolate of course. I recalled that someone recently said that The Talisman Ring was her favourite Heyer – and it was sitting unread on my Heyer shelf – such luck! I think it has become my favourite too. More than any others it seemed to be a Regency version of one of Heyer’s crime/mystery books and there was plenty of scope for snappy and witty dialogue between the male and female characters.

The elderly Lord Lavenham is dying and three of his grandchildren have gathered at Lavenham Court. Ludovic the heir to the estate is absent as he has had to skip the country after he was suspected of murdering a fellow gambler. Lord Lavenham makes Tristram promise to marry his much younger cousin Eustacie as there’s no one to look after her, her branch of the family had recently come to grief in the French Revolution, but neither of them are attracted to each other. Basil or Beau as he is nicknamed will inherit the estate in the absence of Ludovic.

Eustacie believes that she would have a more exciting life if she became a governess (maybe French governesses have an exciting life!) so when her grandfather dies she sneaks out of the Court to ride to London, having to ride through a notoriously haunted forest. Instead of meeting the Headless Horseman she bumps into a group of smugglers, one of whom turns out to be Ludovic.

Events lead them to have to put up at a nearby coaching inn and so begins an adventurous romp with Eustacie being enthusiastically aided by Sarah Thane who is staying there while her brother Sir Hugh samples as much of the liquor in the cellar as he can get his hands on.

This book has great characters and a good plot too, it was just what I needed, mind you I’m still fed up with all the rain.

The Toll-Gate by Georgette Heyer

The Toll Gate cover

The Toll-Gate by Georgette Heyer was first published in 1955 and my copy is a Book Club hardback from that date. This is more of a mystery/adventure book and is quite light on the romance – which is fine by me.

Captain John Staples has recently left the army after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, he had a bit of a reputation for being crazy amongst his fellow officers and he’s finding civilian life a bit boring, especially when he has to go to a family wedding in Derbyshire. The women in his extended family seem keen to find a wife for him, but they’re disappointed when he leaves the wedding early.

Looking for an inn to spend the night in John – or Jack as he’s generally known to his friends – gets lost and eventually reaches a roadside toll-gate which is being ‘manned’ by Ben a young and scared boy all on his own. It transpires that Ben’s father has gone missing and Ben fears the worst. Jack decides that he must find out what is going on.

This is a good light read with likeable characters and a plethora of Regency slang.

You might think that a toll-gate dates a book immediately to a certain era but it’s only a couple of years since we had to stump up all of 40 pence in the dead of night on a rural road somewhere around the English midlands. In fact not that long ago I saw such a house and business for sale in the Guardian, you would have to be a keen home body though as you would never be able to leave the place!