Well...I'm working from home at the moment. I'm trying to be optimistic about this whole new lifestyle I'm committed to. It's all kinda scary to be honest. I've been checking in with my friends who live in Europe and Asia (and who have been dealing with this longer than me) so I started prepping much earlier figuring that either I'd need it or I would just fill up my hurricane box. I also ordered a bidet...because why not? Then of course, for some reason, everyone went insane and began buying toilet paper in bulk.
I think the bidet might have been the smartest thing I ever did. Amazingly, a few days after I ordered it--the company ran out of stock. Yup, America (ok, a segment of) is getting on that bidet lifestyle. I bought mine from Tushy...but I'd be careful when looking them up on social media because there's a porn company with the same name. Which I discovered when checking on shipping times. So uh...the bidet people are @lovetushy and not at tushy. As a warning. Or you know...a new interest if that's how you swing.
Title: The Talisman Ring
Author: Georgette Heyer
Page Number: 408 pages (paperback)
Genre: romance, historical fiction, fiction, mystery
Year: 1936 (original), 2000 (paperback)
A full-blooded romance of the eighteenth century, when the legend of the Headless Horseman and a proposed 'marriage de convenance' both have their impact on the mystery of a golden talisman ring. The ravishing beauty, Eustacie de Vauban had been snatched from the excitement and the danger of the French Revolution to be sheltered in the dull safety of a manor house in England of Lord Lavenham, her grandfather. But, the worst of all, she was being compelled to marry her cousin Sir Tristram Shield, a boring gentleman thirteen years her senior. Neither Eustacie nor Tristram, share the slightest inclination to marry one another. Yet it is Lord Lavenham's dying wish. For there is no one else to provide for the old man's granddaughter while Ludovic Lavenham, his heir, remains a fugitive from justice, falsely accused of murder.
Eustacie's impetuous spirit rebelled, and she fled. Setting out alone in the dark forest spirited she was terrified when stumbles into a band of smugglers, but their leader is a strangely familiar young man, he is her cousin Ludovic, who is in hiding and has disguised himself as a smuggler. She is delighted to be having an adventure at last, and he is a man whose irresistible charm swept her into a maelstrom of terror, deceit -- and passionate love. Pursued by the law, Eustacie and Ludovic find refuge at an unassuming country inn. And the delightfully sensible couple who try to keep them out of trouble... The resourceful Miss Sarah Thane and the clear-thinking Sir Tristram Shield gamely endeavor to prevent Ludovic's arrest and Eustacie's ruin as the four conspire to recover the missing talisman ring that will clear Ludovic's name.
This is my second Heyer book, but I recently cleaned out my used bookstore of all their Heyer books so it shall not be my last. I like Heyer's writing as she seems to have a great sense of comic timing (the Talisman Ring reminded me of early romantic-farce movies) while her mysteries seem to be neat. That being said, I've only read a few books from her.
Heyer wrote this book in 1936 in two months, allegedly after Heyer had been suffering from severe writer's block.
The Talisman Ring is set in the year 1793 (the Georgian Era) in England. It's a double romance (two couples) plus a mystery. The mystery is over who stole the famed Talisman Ring that belongs to Lavenham family. The blurb above does a good job of explaining the plot (or at least the beginning of the plot). What I think it leaves out (to me) is somewhat slapstick moments (it would be a great play/movie). The characters are almost ridiculous caricatures of romance personas but they're still lovable. There are elements of a classic farce - missing object (jewelry), false accusations of murder, bumbling police, etc.
There are four cousins, three of whom are main characters while one is more in the background. Lord Lavenham's direct heir is Ludovic Lavenham (a currently disgraced grandson and direct heir), Eustacie de Vauban (a french granddaughter recently rescued from the French Revolution), Sir Tristram Shield (a grand-nephew) and Sir Basil (a grandnephew, heir as long as Ludovic is disgraced).
The book begins with Sir Tristram Shield arriving at the house of his grandfather, Lord Sylvester Lavenham a Baron in Sussex. Lord Lavenham is dying and he hopes to have Sir Tristram marry his granddaughter, Eustacie, in order to provide for her. The estate is going to Sir Basil as long as Ludovic is disgraced (I'm not exactly sure how English law works here or even if I understood what Heyer was saying). Eustacie, upon learning of this plan, begins to question Sir Tristram to determine if they'll suit. She's devastated to learn that he's thirty one to her seventeen and unromantic. Eustacie, Tristram and Basil wait below stairs for Lavenham to die and while there they discuss Ludovic. Eustacie is thrilled to learn of a disgraced (and possibly dashing cousin). Basil is introduced more fully here, he's considered a dandy and unlike Tristram believes in Ludovic's innocence. Basil is a foppish character but more aware than his cousins give him credit for.
Ludovic was banished from England because of an incident that happened the same night he lost the Talisman Ring. He placed the ring for debts whilst gambling against Sir Matthew Plunkett. When funds are offered later, Plunkett refuses to return the ring causing Ludovic to call him out for a duel. Sir Tristram intervenes and sends Ludovic home as they'd all been drinking. Plunkett was murdered and the ring stolen that same night. Ludovic was established as the suspect and was banished from the country by his grandfather so he didn't stand for murder.
After Lavenham's death, Eustacie decides to run away to London to become a governess. She has decided that this will suit her romantic wants as (from the Gothic romances she reads) she knows that she will soon have a star-crossed romance with the oldest son in her place of employment. She has saddled a horse and sneaks off in the middle of the night. On the road, she runs into smugglers which ruins her plans of escape to London. One of the smugglers is her mysterious cousin Ludovic, who claims his innocence as well as grief upon learning of Lavenham's death. Eustacie seems to immediately fall in love with Ludovic--as he's a romantic hero archetype--and goes with him as he runs from the excisemen. Ludovic is injured in their flight and they end up at the local inn/pub.
Staying at the inn is Sarah Thane and her brother, Sir Hugh Thane. Sir Hugh is a great character as an aside. Sir Hugh has a cold and mostly keeps to his room but has become enamored of the smuggled cognac (from Ludovic's efforts) that is offered by the inn. He is a justice of the peace and while clueless to the goings-on around him, can be counted upon to save Ludovic, Eustacie and Sarah when the police show up. Sarah runs into Eustacie and a bleeding Ludovic in the parlor of the inn and offers medical assistance and becomes friends with Eustacie. Upon learning of Ludovic's ordeal, and believing him innocent (like Eustacie), Sarah offers to help investigate to clear his name and grant him his inheritance.
Meanwhile, Sir Tristram has followed Eustacie's trail and discovered Ludovic recovering at the inn. He reluctantly agrees to help clear Ludovic's name--mostly to keep Eustacie and Sarah out of trouble. Tristram is mostly exasperated with his family but is enamored with Sarah and often go along with their overzealous plans.
The couples themselves tend to be almost a standard cut-out for many fictional romance couplings. Sir Tristram is sensible, reluctant to be involved in a mess (yet can be counted on in a pinch), serious and highly practical. His pairing, Sarah Thane is level headed but full of mirth. Ludovic Lavenham is utterly dashing, somewhat reckless yet goodhearted and heroic. Eustacie de Vauban is overly romantic, almost silly with wild dreams and devoted.
I preferred the romance of Tristram and Sarah because Eustacie is a bit too much for me. She borders on silly more than I could bear. Granted, the best romance might just be Sir Thane and his love for smuggled liquor.
I mentioned the farce aspect to the story because while there is so much break-neck action that drives the story, nothing is ever serious. Even with the shoot-outs, fist-fights and espionage. It's all just delightfully fun. I would say, that other than Eustacie's overly exaggerated silliness the only thing I disliked about the book was that the plot moved upon happenstance more than anything. Every moment of the story falls in place by simple fortuitousness. It's not terribly realistic and gives a far-fetched aspect to the whole "mystery" but it does add more credence to comic aspect of the book.