Resourceful, adventurous and utterly indefatigable, Sophy is hardly the mild-mannered girl that the Rivenhalls expect when they agree to take her in. Kind-hearted Aunt Lizzy is shocked; stern Cousin Charles and his humorless fiancée Eugenia are disapproving. With her inimitable mixture of exuberance and grace Sophy soon sets about endearing herself to her family, but finds herself increasingly drawn to her cousin. Can she really be falling in love with him, and he with her? And what of his betrothal to Eugenia?
I sat down to write this review, fingers poised over the keys … and suddenly realized that this would be my first time to write a review of a story that’s older than I am (!) and, moreover, one which is so well known and such a great favourite with romance readers that it frequently tops any “what’s your favourite Regency Romance?” list.
It’s been more than twenty years since I last read The Grand Sophy and, while there are a fair few of Georgette Heyer’s books available in audio format, this title wasn’t one of them (unless you count the abridged version also recently issued by Naxos). So I was delighted when I saw that there was an unabridged version coming out. I admit, it’s not my favourite Heyer (that’s Venetia) but it’s still in my top five.
Sophy is a young woman who has been brought up by her father, a diplomat, and has lived most of her life abroad. When Sir Horace Stanton-Lacy asks his sister, Lady Ombersley, to take charge of his “little” Sophy while he is on a trip to Brazil, she forms the impression that Sophie is shy, somewhat gauche, and more than a little drab – and agrees to take the girl under her wing and give her the “town bronze” she will need in order to be brought out.
But when she arrives, Sophy turns out to be far from little, and far from gauche. In fact, the reality of her could not be farther from the type of retiring girl Lady Ormbersely had been expecting for Sophy is tall, Junoesque of stature, and very much “up to snuff” as the saying is, being poised, confident, witty, and deliciously unconventional.
She’s an immediately engaging heroine. Even though she’s unashamedly manipulative, she’s never smug or cruel; actually, she’s rather like a Regency version of Mary Poppins in the way she swoops down upon an unsuspecting and somewhat discontented family and proceeds to put everything right, mending relationships and pulling the strings in a kind of courtship quadrille in which everyone eventually ends up with the right partner.
You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals, where I’ve given this a rating of A- for content and A- for narration.