Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An Accomplished Woman by Jude Morgan


This book opens with a charming scene at an art exhibition with a Regency Miss lamenting on the cavalier treatment of her beloved brother by the woman he worshipped and who had cast him aside without a second thought.

Lydia Templeton listens sympathetically and although I guessed early on she was the woman in question, I was still thoroughly entertained by their interchange and Lydia's bewilderment with a man whose favour she had attracted by no more effort than by, 'Suppressing my yawns in his presence'.

Lydia is an intelligent woman in her twenties, who once scandalized society by refusing the hand of wealthy and eligible Lewis Durrant. She lives happily with her father, Dr Templeton and spends her time exactly as she wishes with an occasional visit to her married brother in London.

Thus all the dowagers have given her up as marriage material and she is therefore selected by her Godmother to chaperone a young orphan to Bath. Pheobe Rae is a beautiful, and more interestingly, rich girl of nineteen who has two suitors. The sojourn at the fashionable spas is to enable her to make a decision about which, if either, of these young man she intends to accept.

Lydia tries her best to be impartial, but the two men are so different, she finds this more and more difficult as the days pass. Then when Mr Durrant arrives in Bath purporting to be in search of a bride and latches onto the party to watch the fun, things get even more complicated.

Miss Templeton is obviously more engaging than even she admits, because she manages to evoke strong emotions in men without even trying. It wasn't difficult to work out what would happen with the tangled emotions of the characters, but to say it was predictable would be an insult. My enjoyment wasn't in any way affected by this foreknowledge as the writing and characterisation is beautifully put together. The gentle, Regency language with its humour and sheer visual richness, not to mention its irony, was a treat. Even 'must hate' characters were a delight and at the words, 'It's Mrs Vawser', I hunkered down to enjoy the outrageously entertaining dialogue.

A fabulous, gentle read to be enjoyed on a lounger in the sunshine with a cool drink beside you. Bliss!! I had the good fortune to meet the author too and my copy is signed. A definite keeper.