Monday, August 07, 2006

The Masqueraders

Georgette Heyer
Fiction, Romance

Heyer is a master of the period romance, tales that revolve around society, entanglements that usually consist of someone being engaged to the wrong person (a very serious matter when an engagement was a verbal contract), and well-defined characters that were often a little more spirited than custom of the time properly allowed. In The Masqueraders, she introduces us to Prudence and Robin, two siblings who are dressed as the opposite gender, with the taller Prudence becoming Peter, and the diminutive Robin known as Kate. Naturally, they both fall in love while in their adopted roles, and just as naturally, their somewhat checkered past means that revealing their true identities is out of the question.

Compounding their distress is the fact that their father, the architect of many of the wild schemes they've taken part in, has come to town with proof that he is a long-lost lord... and they have no idea of how much trouble such a claim could be. The machinations spin out of control (his presumptive lordship claims it is because his children don't follow his instructions exactly), leading, inevitably, to happiness and engagements all around at the end. This is, after all, a romance, and they tend to end most felicitously.

This is an entertaining tale, and one that is no more romantically inclined than many of the "regular fiction" bestsellers of today. Given its publication date of 1928, one can also admit that any book still in publication more than seventy years after its debut obviously has many things going for it. If you don't mind a somewhat wild premise - that two siblings can so convincingly pose as the other gender that they can not only fool the town once, but again as they later appear with their real identities - this book is surely worth your time.


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