Saturday, February 05, 2011

Courtney and Rachel Talk Books: Faro's Daughter

Courtney AND rachel take on Georgette Heyer ( and Kato!)

The Story

Faro’s Daughter tells the story of Deborah, a woman who works in a gamboling house, and Max Ravenscar who is a gentleman trying to save his young cousin from a most inconvenient marriage to aforementioned woman. Of course, as Deborah really has no intention of marrying Ravenscar’s young cousin, this book is filled with many misconceptions and angry words as Deborah and Ravenscar try to get the other to leave Ravenscar’s cousin alone.

And as per any Heyer novel, we can expect these many misconceptions to somehow turn into love and a happily-ever-after ending.

Rachel: I really didn’t like Faro’s Daughter as well as I liked the other Heyer novels. This is a bit disappointing, because up to and surrounding Christmas, I read a string of awesome, adorable Heyer after another. I really think this had something to do with the characters. I did not fall for Max Ravenscar in the same way as I did a Miles Cavanaugh or a Jasper Damerel. Knowing that Heyer as such delightful potential for sparkling, witty heroes and heroines, I felt a little cheated when I failed to really click with either the main or peripheral characters. I rather enjoyed Lucius, Deborah’s erstwhile confidante, but no potential was completely realized on this front.

Courtney: I would completely agree with you about this – not nearly as enjoyable as Heyer’s other novels that I’ve read, and it’s all due to the characters. There was so much potential – misunderstanding! an unlikely female heroine! romance between all the wrong people! But it didn’t go as far as it could have because the characters didn’t bring it there. Whereas you enjoyed Lucius, I have to say that I didn’t even like him – or any of the other secondary characters. I thought they all felt very one-dimensional. And this saddens me.

Rachel: In the best Heyer novels, the relationship between the heroine and hero develops in a sparklingly languid way. Like Elizabeth and Darcy, you follow them through their trail of mishaps to the rainbow at the end of the tunnel and the final “a ha!” moment. Here, Ravenscar and Deborah hated each other (surfacely) so intensely that any development was shoved to the wayside. Thus, in the final moments, they seem almost thrown together and you cannot retrace your thoughts to the beginning of their more amorous acquaintance. Yes, a sparring couple is one of the delights of Heyer—- but this moved beyond playful sparring and bordered on downright mean. They both went out of their way to comment on the others inadequacies in a harsh and cruel way.

Courtney: Downright mean doesn’t even begin to cover it! He insulted her at every possible chance, she went out of her way to provoke his anger, and then if that wasn’t bad enough she kidnapped him! And while love often grows from hate in books, we don’t see their feels really changing and then all of a sudden when she agrees to marry him, it just feels so out of character for both of them… almost like the characters got away from Heyer and this was her reining them in for the big finish.

One of the things that really frustrated me about this book was the double standard that was presented of what women and men are allowed to do. Men are allowed to frequent gaming halls, but for a woman to run a gaming hall out of her house was one of the biggest taboos that could be done. I know it’s my feminist side coming out there, but it made me quite angry when reading about it.

Rachel: I don’t think, particularly, this “problem” was one of Heyer’s writing and plot; rather a double-standard permeating the time period ( alongside a host of others not as starkly explored in this book.

Courtney: One of the highlights of her other books are the whole cast of characters and this one was lacking, especially in the side-kick point. I have a tendency to love sidekicks more than main characters in most media that I thoroughly enjoy. They can provide insights into the character, or provide comic relief, and are often the vehicle used to get us inside the main characters’ heads and understand what they are feeling and thinking.

Rachel: Yes. Friday’s Child has ruined me for Heyer novels without strong sidekicks. Sometimes what is most prominently revealed about the development of the hero and heroine’s relationship is said in these colourful moments with wondrous side-kick aplomb. In fact, the sidekick is SO essential to a great story and so important, one is automatically drawn to thinking about other sidekicks. Say, sidekicks one has seen is recent movies. Say, sidekicks that have nothing to do with regency romance; rather are renaissance men who can make coffee and fight martial arts while listening to Beethoven. Sidekicks who are the personification of a human swiss army knife…sidekicks like KATO!!!!

Courtney: Kato is adorable! And can kick Britt’s butt but is still so loyal to him that he only does it when Britt needs a SERIOUS butt-kicking. Other than that, he will drop everything to make sure Britt doesn’t get his butt-kicked by anyone else!

Rachel: Wait. Maybe we should let people know that we have switched to the Green Hornet: a movie Court and I saw a few weeks back. A movie that was so splendidly ridiculous I doubt it really had any screenwriting: just a lot of running around and laughing.

What I REALLY liked about the Britt-Kato relationship was the balance ( or imbalance) of power. It takes Britt a long time to reconcile himself to the fact that Kato really is his superior in many ways. When Kato tells Britt he is stubborn it is an understatement. Britt finally learns that in order to stay safe ( metaphorically and literally), he has to move into the front seat of the Black Beauty and let equilibrium ensue.

I also LOVE little details about Kato: the fact that he makes coffee, sketches Bruce Lee; draws a happy face on a card accompanying a gift to Britt; is saved from Britt’s pool by an inflatable lobster…

And what I liked MOST about this partnership is how different it is to other partnerships. So often ( and can I shamelessly use the BBC Sherlock as an example, please? Okay. I will) as in the BBC Sherlock, the “team” of hero and sidekick are mentally in synch: they just need to glare at each other and they are mentally attuned to what the other is planning.

Britt and Kato ( in their development as the Green Hornet and Kato ) have no synchronicity at all.

I love how we jumped from Georgette Heyer to this, by the way. What a subtle transition.

Courtney: I think you’ve covered everything that is important about the Britt-Kato bromance, and I don’t know that there’s anything else that needs to be said about it, really. Except that it was really awesome that there wasn’t REALLY any romance in the movie. I mean, they were both in love with the same chick, but she wasn’t interested in either of them. And so the focus was completely on the Britt-Kato dynamics without getting sidetracked and distracted. Not enough stories do this!

The Bottom Line

Hum. The most boring of Heyer’s books that I’ve read so far. So boring that we tangented quite easily.


Unknown said...

Ooohhh, you have me very nervous about this book now - I have scheduled to read it for the Georgette Heyer Reading Challenge this year.

Aarti said...

I don't like this one at all, either. I really didn't like the main characters at all, and thought their romance completely unlikely and that it was based probably on lust and would fizzle very quickly. Not one I've ever felt compelled to reread.

CLM said...

I think this is a Heyer that grows on you - Deborah's desire to protect and support her aunt, and really the kidnapping scene is very funny. I like Arabella, and often wish she had her own book. I do agree, however, that there could be more development of the hero and heroine's feelings for each other. I think we are meant to understand that Max ultimately values Deb for her strong personality, loyalty, and the twinkle in her eye that Arabella mentions.

JBarnes said...


You know, three months later.

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