I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
What an extraordinarily entertaining read! Count me as one of the teeming masses besotted with The Grand Sophy - both the book and the character.
I don't quite know where to begin. The quickest summary I can put together is this: Sophy's father must go to Brazil on a diplomatic mission and he parks Sophy with his sister's family in London with the task of finding herself a husband. Sophy arrives into a household that is under a cloud of sorts, with lots of bad decisions looming on the horizon. Of course, Sophy immediately sets about manipulating everyone and everything: efficiently and thoroughly. To save themselves from themselves. And potential bad marriages.
I don't think, had this book been written today, or in a modern setting, I would have liked it at all. There's an element of farce to it - especially in the dialogue - but even so, I think this story mostly succeeds for me because of time and place. Sophy is so thoroughly in command of herself and her environment, with a perfect understanding of the thoughts and feelings of those around her, that she is truly my personal hero. She's like a Regency-period James Bond. The scene at Mr. Goldhanger's was the highlight of the book for me. I'd rather wish the racist element weren't there, but if wishes were horses the world would be overrun and writing historicals without the less seemly, more shameful bits would make it rather less historical.
Some random thoughts: I really liked Mr. Dassett; I can't explain why, but I did. Eugenia was an Austen worthy nemesis. Speaking of Jane Austen, there were a couple of passages here that could have been lifted wholesale from any of her books - the voice of Jane was strong in this one. My book copy kept getting 'Stanton-Lacy' wrong and it would end up 'Stanton-Lady'. That drove me a little nutty.
I was a bit disappointed by Sophy's last Grand Plan: it was over-the-top dramatic, to my way of thinking, but as that final scene unfolded in all its full farcical glory, I couldn't help but enjoy it in spite of myself. (Although the cousin thing... I know! It wasn't such a thing back then! But...ew.)
I'm afraid this book has ruined me for any other Heryer books - can any of them possibly be as good as this one?