Frederica Merrivale has come to London for the glittering social season, in order to give her beautiful younger sister Charis a chance to make a good marriage. The Merrivales, a family of solid social standing, have fallen into unhappy financial straits, and the marriage might deliver them from this situation. Frederica herself, a gay and witty charmer, is feared to be beyond marriageable age — she is twenty-four!
But when they are introduced to London society by their distant cousin, Lord Alverstoke, they find themselves both besieged by more suitors than they can possibly handle!
I haven’t read this in years – I’ve just listened to the audio version, narrated by Clifford Norgate.
I’d more or less forgotten the plot, but it’s one of those books where the inclusion of younger siblings works really well and makes for some funny and delightful moments. The romance between Frederica and Alverstoke moves slowly, with him becoming aware of his feelings for her quite some time before (it seems) she has any idea, or about hers for him. They form a strong friendship to start with, and I always enjoy friends-to-lovers stories, so that’s an added bonus.
The narration is excellent on the whole; Norgate has a mellifluous voice and brings to life a large cast of characters which includes children, dowagers and tulips of the ton. If I have one criticism, it’s that he’s chosen such a deep tone for Alverstoke. I realise this is to mark him out as different from the other male characters, but there are times he sounds a bit too old for a man in his late 30s.
But even with that caveat, it’s a very skilful and varied performance, and is certainly one I’d listen to again.