Tuesday, 30 August 2005

Heyeroines in need of a slap

1. Venetia Lanyon (Venetia)

OK, so I haven't exactly gone for a controversial choice here for the first of this series. Those of you poised to defend Harriet Presteigne, Sarah Thane or Sophia Stanton-Lacy will have to wait a while.

So, why pick on poor Miss Lanyon? Well, to put it in the modern idiom, what's not to be picked on? While the best of Heyer's heroines, like the three mentioed above, take a while to build up one's irritation, Venetia achieves this in the very first paragraph when she comes in wittering over-dramatically about a fox in among the chickens, and then answers herself in a silly voice. (Apologies for the slip into italics there, by the way. I blame Miss Lanyon. She's always doing it.)

Quite a few of the italics spring from her habit of throwing around quotes instead of having a sensible conversation. Pope, Byron, Shakespeare, Campion - rather than say what she means she just pulls out a snippet of poetry. That sort of thing can get on one's nerves fast.

Then there's the whole "house in Hans Town" business. She's a matchless beauty and knows as much. She has never been to London before. Yet when her future happiness is put at risk what does she do? She proposes to set up house in London with her younger brother, rather than doing what any spirited young woman ought to do, which would be to go back to Yorkshire and irritate her useless elder brother by constantly quoting at him, his insipid wife and his odious mother-in-law.

Luckily Lord Damerel is around to sort out this unholy mess, but even when he proposes to her she manages to muff it in various ways. One botched proposal might be misfortune, but three? She is probably too busy searching for the right quotation, or trying to work out just which word of her acceptance she should italicise.

I rather suspect that Damerel would tire of Venetia very quickly, but they plan to honeymoon in Rome. I just hope that Venetia can find appropriate quotations whn she gets there. I have in mind the bit of Coriolanus, Act III scene 1 about throwing someone off the Tarpeian Rock.

Technorati Tags:


Miss Lanyon said...

A hit, a very palpable hit.

Anna Lucia said...


One of my favourite heroines... but then since many of her concerns and contentments are domestic, maybe it's a girly thing?

Stephen said...

Venetia is one of your favourites?

Gosh, I hope that you don't have a similarly high opinion of Miss Serena Carlow.

Vicky (badriya) said...

Oi! She's not just one of my favourites, but the top favourite Heyer heroine. I think Venetia is the most satisfying love story. And going back to live in disharmony with her brother and his wife would not really be an enjoyable way to live.

I got here from your sig by the way, forwarding the Dylan as Dark Arts Master post to several friends because it was so good :)