January 04, 2011

“Cotillion” by Georgette Heyer (3.5 stars)

Historical Romance is certainly not the go-to for everyone, but lovers of historical fiction and social intrigues will have good reason to take a look at Georgette Heyer’s body of work, if the 1953 Cotillion is any gauge. This is smoothly paced ‘country girl in the big city’ novel a la Jane Austen that strikes a great balance between romance, adventure, and cultural exploration.

Cotillion follows the life of Kitty, an adopted orphan isolated in a dilapidated estate with her adopted father. In order to secure Kitty’s situation after his death, he sets up an ultimatum to his many nephews- marry Kitty and inherit his fortune. This leads to an amusing showdown in a quaint, musty drawing room in which various nephews make terrible and hopeless offers to Kitty, when her desired mate, the ridiculous dandy Jack, does not come at all. Poor cousin Freddy is roped in by Kitty’s design into a fake engagement, allowing her to come to London and seek a better life, and her desired husband to be. I particularly enjoyed the short tour of London from Kitty’s perspective, covering all manner of buildings and sites, delivered perfectly by Kitty’s wide-eyed innocence and Freddy’s bored and frustrated asides.

Heyer also wrote a number of detective novels, and this definitely adds another dimension to the plot. From beginning to end, the final pairing is uncertain, which leaves the leader guessing right up to the last chapter. Other nice touches are the fitting comeuppances for the villains and the distinctive voices that arise from each character (One character, Freddy, is particular enjoyable with his clipped sentences and over polite expletives. I admit I chuckled when I read Oh dash it, Kitty!). I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with this one, and will certainly read another in the hopes of more humorous adventures and dalliance in 19th century England. I’m giving this one three and a half stars.

Review by Rebecca.

Have you read Cotillion? Loved it or Hated it? Leave a comment to this post with your thoughts!
Cotillion is available for loan at Camden Council Library Services. Reserve now.


  1. An enjoyable read Cotillion by Georgette Heyer. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.

  2. I LOVED Cotillion. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it actually was since I thought I'd already read all of Heyer's BEST work. :)