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A Civil Contract

A Civil Contract (Paperback)

A Civil Contract (Paperback)

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4 Stars
1 Rating
Published by DangerSpot Books Ltd

432 pages






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Rs. 804

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Rs. 627

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Adam Deveril, Viscount Lynton, returns home from war to find his family in financial ruin. To help his family, he sacrifices his love for the beautiful Julia and marries plain Jenny Chawleigh, whose father is a wealthy businessman determined to marry his daughter into a title. Adam chafes under Mr. Chawleigh's generosity, and Julia's behavior upon hearing of the betrothal nearly brings them all into a scandal. But Jenny's practicality and quiet love for Adam bring him comfort and even...

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‘The Civil Contract’ is Georgette Heyer’s bow to the actuality of commerce in the Marriage Mart of the Regency period. Heyer is no doubt a wonderful writer. With a .. More details ‘The Civil Contract’ is Georgette Heyer’s bow to the actuality of commerce in the Marriage Mart of the Regency period. Heyer is no doubt a wonderful writer. With a keen eye for historical detail, great attention to atmosphere and a rapier-sharp wit, she is Jane Austen with more frills and according to some critics, the foremother of all historical romance writers to others; but generally acknowledged to be in the forefront of her field.

While her best-selling novels, like ‘The Black Moth’, ‘Sylvester’, ‘These Old Shades’ and ‘An Infamous Army’ are usually a clever blend of historical background, the peccadilloes of the eccentric gentry, and a romance as almost a subplot, this particular novel deviates in that it does not glorify ethereal, Byronic notions of romance as Heyer usually does (sarcastically, to be fair). In most Heyer novels, marrying for money is something that happens to other people. Often the lead romantic pair are thought to be doing so, or people who do do so are generally held to be both fulfilling and disappointing the expectations of the Regency generation. It is in this novel that the deadly exigencies of the Marriage Mart – the reason for which Almack’s, the Assembly Rooms at Bath, and the Court presentations exist, by the way – is thoroughly examined. Here a marriage is perpetrated not just for convenience’s sake (as in ‘A Convenient Marriage’, obviously) but for open financial gain. The male lead, the Viscount Lynton, comes home from the Peninsular Wars to find the family steeped in debt. As a gentleman’s son, nay, as a member of the Upper Ten Thousand, it is obviously beneath him to work. The solution provided by his dependent family is that he marry for money. The Viscount is in love already, with the beautiful and fragile Julia Oversley. But her family will not countenance an alliance with a pauper, however noble. She herself seems a paragon of feminine graces and few virtues. Not that she can be accused of laxness of character, but Heyer goes to very definite pains to portray her as a spoilt and thoroughly unlikeable character. The Viscount is making the best of a bad situation when he has to marry Jenny Chawleigh, a dowdy Cit’s daughter with no graces, no beauty, and a magnificent inheritance. The class divide, usually a pronounced subtext with a definite miasma of the unsavory about it in any other Heyer novel, is explored with no illusions and a great deal of justice, to the author’s credit. The Chawleighs and their crowd are shown as simpler people, who are aware of the fact that everything is for sale. Jenny’s father, for one, is completely prepared to pay for his daughter’s entry into high society with solid cash. While the Lyntons might find this vulgar, there is no denying that they can and must put up their status for sale in order to survive. It is the Viscount who must decide whether he will content himself with his devoted, rich but shabby little wife while his former inamorata plays off her airs and graces to society. And it is the conclusion that raises Heyer in this reviewer’s estimation. For an author whose living probably depended on her pleasing her readers, Heyer took a bold risk with this plot and achieved something close to true emotion with the ending.
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