The 1929 club – Beauvallet

Twice a year, Karen and Simon  host an online book club where they choose a year and everyone comes together to review and discuss books published in that year. Today kicks off the start of the week dedicated to 1929 and what a year it was for publishing, especially for detective fiction.

I was surprised by how many books I have already read that were originally published in 1929. These include:

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie
Goodbye to all that by Robert Graves
Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner
Grand Hotel by Vicky Baum

It’s a really busy time of year at the moment and so I decided to start the week off quite gently with a reread from a favourite author.

Georgette Heyer is most famous for her romances set in the Regency period but she did write a couple of more historical novels, one of which is Beauvallet. This is set in Tudor times when Sir Francis Drake had just sailed around the world and the Spanish and English navies were spoiling for a fight. As in her Regency romances, Georgette Heyer introduces real figures into her stories and so we meet Queen Elizabeth 1 and King Philip of Spain as well as Sir Francis Drake and other members of the Tudor court.

Nicholas Beauvallet is a classic swashbuckling hero who always has a joke when he is in danger and is irresistible to women. We first meet him at sea as he boards a Spanish ship to carry off its treasure. On board the ship are his excellency Don Manuel and his daughter, Dona Domenica who are returning to Spain from the Americas. Of course, the result of the battle is never in doubt and neither is the romance. But then, the beauty of a well written romance is the journey that the two parties undertake before they can ride off into the happily ever after.

Beauvallet is a true gentleman and returns Don Manuel and Dona Domenica to Spain but he promises that he will come for her before the year is out. He keeps his promise and comes to Spain in disguise, travelling right to the heart of the Spanish court and meeting King Philip while masquerading as a French nobleman.

Domenica is now living with her aunt after the death of her father and is in danger of being forcibly married off to her cousin as the family want her inheritance for themselves. There are some lovely scenes equal to any in Heyer’s romances where Beauvallet pretending to be the Chevalier de Guise becomes the darling of Spanish society. Domenica’s aunt, Dona Beatrice is a worthy opponent for Beauvallet as she is determined that Domenica will marry her son even if he has to kidnap her to achieve this.

This doesn’t quite have the sparkle of some of her best romances such as The Grand Sophy and sometimes the dialogue becomes a bit stilted as Heyer is possibly less comfortable with Tudor phrasing. Domenica too, doesn’t have the depth of some of her later heroines. However, it is still a gorgeous bit of escapism and there are thrills galore in the last third of the book.

If you love Georgette Heyer and haven’t read this one, then it is definitely worth picking up.

This is post 24 for Blogtober 2022

Author: Janette

Recently retired Ex-Assistant Head of a large primary school in Leicestershire although I seem to be in school teaching quite a bit still.

21 thoughts on “The 1929 club – Beauvallet”

  1. Great review! Georgette Heyer was one of my favourite authors in my teens. I have exactly the same copy of Beauvallet that you have posted here. I wasn’t over fond of her historical romances like this one and “The Spanish Bride” (the only two that I read). They just don’t compare with “These Old Shades” and “The Grand Sophy”!

      1. These Old Shades was the prequel to The Devil’s Cub, after all, so what is one without the other!

      2. Did he reappear in Regency Buck? I’ve completely forgotten. Must dig out my copy and re-read it.

      3. I just don’t recall this. I only remember that the hero’s (Was he Lord Worth) younger brother, the one in Wellington’s army (I’ve forgotten both their names) re-appears in another book. Was it “The Spanish Bride”?

      4. No wonder. I really thought that my memory was fading. I did read The Infamous Army, not that I remember much. Some of the army types may have reappeared in The Grand Sophy, as Sophy was brought up in the midst of the army. I think I’ve read all her regency romances, except The Conqueror. I had at least 20, if not more. Very recently, I read all her detective novels, back to back. Have you tried them? They are quite different from the usual detective books. I love the quirky characters!

  2. The name Georgette Heyer is very familiar to me. I must have picked up one or more of her books at some point. Probably when I was a teen or in my 20s and no one’s bookshelves were safe from me. Excellent review!

  3. I read this a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I agree that Dominica isn’t one of Heyer’s better heroines, but it’s still such an entertaining read!

  4. Long since I read this one but I do remember enjoying it. Great pick to kick of the week. From your previously read ones, I’ve enjoyed Seven Dials (somewhat less than Chimneys) and Emil was a favourite as a child and I still love it.

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