The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer (audiobook) – Narrated by Daniel Philpott


A past dispute . . .

When the irascible Lord Darracott’s eldest son dies unexpectedly, the noble family must accept their estranged Yorkshire cousin as heir apparent. They are convinced he will prove to be a sadly vulgar person, but nothing could have prepared the beleaguered family for the arrival of Major Hugo Darracott . . .

A present deception . . .

His clever and beautiful cousin Anthea is sure there’s more to the gentle giant than Hugo’s innocent blue eyes and broad Yorkshire brogue would lead one to believe. But even she doesn’t guess what he’s capable of, until a family crisis arises and only Hugo can preserve the family’s honor, leading everybody on a merry chase in the process . . .

This is my second review in AudioGals’ Month of Audio Favourites

Rating: A+ for narration, B+ for content

I haven’t read The Unknown Ajax in years, but it was one of the first of Ms. Heyer’s novels I purchased in audio and I remember being utterly delighted by it, thinking that the story came to life in a way I hadn’t experienced when reading the book. Daniel Philpott’s performance is nothing short of perfect and, re-listening to it in order to write this review, I couldn’t help but think what a shame it is that he hasn’t narrated more audiobooks in the genre. (He has one other Heyer title to his credit – Charity Girl.)

The story is a simple one, and one that also appears in some of Ms Heyer’s other books – that of the outsider who is flung into the midst of an unsuspecting family and then proceeds to fix their problems and bring them closer together.

At the beginning of The Unknown Ajax, the irascible and autocratic Lord Darracott is awaiting the arrival of his heir, a young man he has never met. Major Hugh Darracott – Hugo – has recently sold out of the army and, given his parentage – his father married a Yorkshire “weaver’s daughter” – the family expects him to be an uneducated, uncouth clodpole.

Right from the start, it’s clear that Hugo is no pushover when he makes his way to Darracott Place under his own steam, ignoring the arrangements dictated by his grandfather. On his arrival – several hours later than expected – he is immediately ushered into the presence of the family: his grandfather, his aunt and her two grown children, Anthea and Richmond, who is the one member of the family upon whom their cantankerous grandsire dotes.

Seeing at once that they are expecting a common-as-muck dimwit, Hugo immediately sets about living down to expectations, adopts a broad Yorkshire accent and acts like a total country bumpkin. In actuality though, Hugo was educated at Harrow, is wealthier than anyone else in the family, is very shrewd and possessed of a wicked sense of humour. Watching him pull the wool over (almost) everyone’s eyes is a delight as they are taken in by his permanently guileless expression and the impression he gives of being a brainless giant.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.


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