Having recently moved halfway across the world, I find myself staring at empty bookshelves in distress. You see, the choice was between toys and books. Toys are essential, as any parent knows, to a happy child. And a happy child is essential to the sanity of a parent. It was while at the mercies of the vagaries of Oxfam that I found a gem: Pistols for Two, by Georgette Heyer. A collection of eleven short stories,
it is a good read (a fantastic read when you have absolutely nothing else to read). As with most collections of short stories, I did not expect to like every story. True to my expectations, I did not. There was an element of predictability, a sameness in the characters, which might not have been evident if one was reading a novel. Juxtaposed, some characters felt typecast i.e. Hero: the charming dandy/ Heroine: the sweet, vivacious beauty. Yawn. ‘To Have the Honour’ and ‘The Duel’ were charming, if somewhat forgettable, while ‘Snowdrift’ (which one was that?) and ‘Pink Domino’ (what’s that about?) were entirely forgettable.
The stories (Pistols for Two, Night at the Inn) which I considered to be non-romance had been the ones which intrigued me the most.
‘Pistols for Two’ is a story of friendship between two young men. What sold me on the story was how believable the characters, Tom Crawley and Jack Firth, were. Their interaction was authentic, and there was a vein of humour in the story that appealed to me. Heyer seemed to mock the stupidity of manly pride, but in the most affectionate manner.
The idea behind ‘Night at the Inn’, a gothic-like mystery, or mystery-like gothic, if you prefer, was intriguing. It was unfortunately, in my opinion, was not flawlessly executed. It was enough, however, to induce me to check out Heyer’s mysteries.
However, for ‘A Clandestine Affair’ and ‘A Husband for Fanny’, the book is worth the GBP 1.99, I had paid for it. Perhaps because I already like the Col. Brandons of the world (had I been Marianne, Sense and Sensibility would never exist. Wickham? Bah.), Lord Harleston of ‘A Husband for Fanny’ was very appealing. The sweetness of the heroine was not grating (a fine balance is often required when the heroine is supposed to be sweet). The romance and misunderstanding were not of overwrought dramatics, yet emotionally satisfying. ‘A Clandestine Affair’ shared the same merit of the last point, even though the characters were diametric opposites to the ones in ‘A Husband for Fanny’.
All in all, it was a book I did not regret buying. Would I pay 8 pounds (RRP) for it? Yes. But I would never have picked it up to begin with, had I been standing in Waterstones, surrounded by more possibilities.
Heyer, Georgette. Pistols for Two. Arrow Books, Random House, 2005.
n.b: Oxfam, that most excellent charity shop. Do visit, if you live in the UK, especially their online shop. It is shopping for a good cause and reusing at the same time. The 3Rs is a triumvirate, not just recycling!