Simon the Coldheart: A Tale of Chivalry and Adventure by Georgette Heyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars (aka 7/10)
I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed this book.
I’ve never read any of Georgette Heyer’s historicals before, unless you count Beauvallet, which seems to straddle the boundary between historical and romance.
I’d heard that Heyer’s historicals weren’t as good as her romances and since this was the next in my Heyer Author Read (I haven’t actually got very far through it yet), the whole thing had kind of languished.
Having found myself unable to choose between books lately, I made a list of books I wanted to read, sorted them by alphabetical order and used a random number generator to pick what I was going to read next. This is what came up.
Choice made, I hit the next snag; I only had this in ebook format as a PDF. Since my Kindle died, I’ve been reading on my phone and that was totally impractical. Then I had a good idea – why not try the PDF in the Kindle app on the family iPad. I was amazed at just how easy the PDF was to read that way and started the book.
I read and read, captured by a book as I haven’t been in a long time. I went to bed each evening, iPad in hand, and read well after I should have turned the light out (back-lighting being what it is, I probably actually had).
I can tell you what should be wrong with the books – at the most basic level, there’s an awful lot of tell rather that show and a severely bad case of written medieval dialogue. But I didn’t care. I was taken by Simon from the beginning and that liking never wavered. (Okay there were a couple of chauvinistic moments, but you get those in modern books so I can’t really complain about it appearing in a medieval set novel published in 1925.) I didn’t mind in the least that the “romance” part of the story didn’t show up until halfway through. I liked Margaret and I’m sure she and Simon made a good couple, but this was Simon’s book, rather than a book about Simon’s romance.
Even better than the romance was Simon’s relationship with Geoffrey and Alan, which was a lovely example of brotherhood, and Fulk was a wonderful character. I hadn’t expected him to become one when he was first introduced at the beginning, but he was lovely, gout and false grumpiness and all.
My English history is very rusty – a very vague memory of studying King Henry IV, Part 1 long, long ago in high school and a year’s extramural study on Medieval England at university, almost as long ago. That meant I had to take it on trust that Heyer had things pretty much right in her history, but it certainly seems to hold together for the ignorant. I’ll be looking up Henry V (on Wikipedia for starters I admit) and checking out the things he got up to, even if he didn’t have a real Simon of Beauvallet at his side.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed this book, even though I didn’t expect to do so. If you’re interested, I suggest you don’t listen to what “they” say and try it for yourself.