83 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2000
This is one of my favourites; it is a mystery as well as a light- hearted comedy of manners. And Georgette Heyer has managed to mix the two genres so that the result is something quite special.
Having survived the Napoleonic Wars, Gervase Frant returns home to a hostile stepmother and half brother, both of whom feel resentful he has survived the wars and that he is now the new Earl of St. Erth. Gervase has to contend with open hostility and challenges to his authority. Adding to all this are the attempts on his life! But Gervase sails through all this with the quiet civility, good humour and charm which define the Georgette Heyer hero and which fans have come to expect in her work.
In Gervase Frant we have the classic Heyer hero, and he is evenly matched with the quintessential Heyer heroine, Drusilla Moreville, a quiet, sensible and very capable young lady.
I enjoyed reading this book for the first time 20 years ago, and I still enjoy rereading it, There's nothing that quite compares with a good Georgette Heyer novel, especially during bleak winter nights.
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
I have read several Georgette Heyer novels and I don't seem to get bored with her wonderful stories, unique characters and great eye for historical detail. The Quiet Gentleman is a bit different from the other Heyer novels I have read. There isn't so much romance here. Instead, there is a mystery suspense plot. I am not bothered with that. Her characters are as memorable as ever and the backdrop of the Regency period is as authentic-sounding as ever. Gervase Frant, Earl of St. Erth, has returned home after surviving the Napoleonic Wars. To his step-family's disappointment, he has not only survived the last battle, Waterloo, he has come to claim his place as master of the estate. His family is now determined to make his life as unhappy as possible. And there is the matter that someone has tried to kill him since he arrives. He suspects his step-family of doing this of course. After all, his stepbrother has a lot to gain by having him killed. But Gervase takes it all with quiet dignity. He sets his eyes on a couple of young ladies, including one Miss Morville, all of this while watching his back and awaiting the opportunity to catch the people who want him dead. There are some twists throughout the novel.
The most impressive part of The Quiet Gentleman is the humor. Once again, Georgette Heyer has created an amazing romp that had me in stitches in various occasions. The dialogue is so full of subtle sarcasm and undeniable wit and I marveled at the author's ability at coming up with such lines. Again, I have to compare her to Jane Austen. Anyone who has hungered for a Jane Austen read other than the stuff she wrote can feast on Georgette Heyer as the next best thing. Another great thing about this novel is the characterization. I like Gervase because there's a quiet confidence about him that makes him a compelling and enjoyable hero. This is the second Heyer novel I have read that concentrates on the hero more than the heroine (The Unknown Ajax was the other one). Romance isn't the focus on this story, but, as I said earlier, I'm not in the least bit bothered with that. Heyer had established herself as a three-dimensional writer that branches out of the genre and creates stories and endings that are less predictable than most romances. And of course the other thing that I loved about this book is the accurate description of Regency England. Many romance authors resort to anachronisms in order to keep the story interesting because they don't know how to, or perhaps don't want to combine the rules of propriety as things were at the time with a plausible and passionate story. Georgette has done the aforementioned combination beautifully in her novels. Anyway, The Quiet Gentleman is a must read. You will love the quirky characters, the great suspense plot and the incredible wit. I have combined this read with another Regency book by an author called Loretta Chase and I think Heyer must've inspired the aforementioned author because she writes in a similar style and I loved her novel as well. I had so much fun reading the two books. If you are new to Georgette Heyer, this is a great place to start. I recommend this gem. If you get the Harlequin reprint (I found an out-of-print trade paperback at an used bookstore), I suggest you read the story first and then the forewords from romance authors (if there are any) afterwards, for they tend to use spoilers.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2007
I am rereading this novel for the ump-teenth time (I have a much yellowed 1951 paperback edition of this novel, imprinted by ACE Books). I have always enjoyed this novel because there is something so very endearing about Gervase Frant, the 7th Earl of St.Erth.
Upon this rereading I have noticed that the social comedy and satire in this novel is the *wickedest* of all of Georgette Heyer's novels. This is a novel rich in all aspects of novel writing, not merely a good regency romance, but a good novel. It captures the feel of Jane Austen's novels more than any other of Heyer's novels. The description of the Stanyon Castle and of each member of the Frant family are deliciously frank and snide. The conversations between members of the Frant family are so comedic that I stop and reread passages in order to savor them (like a really wonderful flavor of ice cream - yummy!).
Gervase was hated by his father, the 6th Earl, because he looks like his beautiful mother, the Earl's first wife. Gervase's mother ran away with a lover when Gervase was young and the 6th Earl never forgave her or Gervase.
Upon the death of his first wife, the 6th Earl remarried and his second wife gave him two children, a son Martin and a daughter Louisa. Gervase's half-brother and sister look like the 6th Earl, unmistakeably Frant-ish, as well as Gervase's cousin Theo Frant (son of the 6th Earl's younger brother).
The 6th Earl, his second wife, and their children have always expected that Martin, the second son, would become the 7th Earl. Martin has been raised and indulged as the heir apparent all his life. Since Gervase entered the army during the Napoleanic Wars, it was expected by all the Frants (except of course Gervase), that he would be conveniently killed in the War. They consider it quite shocking and inconsiderate of Gervase not to have been killed in the Spanish campaigns or during Waterloo (some delightful conversations occur about Gervase's lack of foresight in not getting himself killed or even wounded followed by "politically correct" recanting). Upon his death the 6th Earl left all of his unentailed property to Martin, beggaring the Earldom in order to leave as much away from Gervase as possible.
A year after the 6th Earl's death, Gervase finally arrives at Stanyon. He has deliberately stayed away for the whole year to avoid going into official mourning for a father who treated him shabbily (Gervase dislikes his father as much as his father disliked Gervase). The members of the Stanyon household upon the arrival of Gervase are: Lady St.Erth (Gervase's step-mother), Martin Frant (his half-brother), Reverend Felix Clowne (my lord's Chaplain, most appropriately named), Theodore Frant (Gervase's cousin and my lord's estate agent), and Miss Drusilla Morville (a guest). Later they are joined by the Viscount, Lord Ulverston (Lucius "Lucy" Austell, heir to the Earl of Wrexham, and Gervase's very good friend). Marianne Bolderwood is the local reigning beauty in the Stanyon neighborhood and heiress to 100,000 pounds. While not as funny as the other characters, she is an important plot element. Minor characters who contribute to the comedic elements in the novel and are well-drawn are: Louisa (Gervase's step-sister), Turvey (Gervase's valet), Chard (Gervase's groom), Mr. Leek (a bow street runner), and Drusilla's parents.
At first Gervase thinks that Drusilla is a paid companion to Lady St.Erth until Drusilla makes it clear that she IS the daughter Hervey Morville AND Cordelia Consett, prominent members of the society surrounding Mr. Coleridge and Mr. Southey. She is visiting Stanyon while her parents are visiting their friends. The most flattering description of Miss Morville is that her countenance is pleasing (faint praise indeed). Drusilla is of an extremely practical nature and always has wise advice to handle the everyday problems of life at Stanyon (such as what to do about the ugly epergne in the Small Dining-room that will satisfy both Gervase and his step-mother; also how to handle the inconvenience of Marianne's parents coming down with influenza that might prevent her from attending a ball at Stanyon).
Attempts are being made on Gervase's life and all indications point to Martin as the culprit due to his obvious resentment of his older brother. Opinions as to who is responsible for the murder attempts on Gervase's life are expressed by Theo and Lucy. Lady St.Erth seems oblivious, a very conceited, self-centered, and stupid woman (a running gag is Lady St.Erth's opinions and commentary on card playing and other topics, all based on precepts handed down to her by her father). Miss Morville, who figures out who is trying to murder Gervase and why before anyone else, keeps her own counsel until the end of the novel. Over time, Gervase consults Miss Morville increasingly as it becomes clear to him that she is the only one with exceedingly good sense (delivered with witty repartee).
If you love Jane Austen novels, be sure to order this novel by Georgette Heyer. I guarentee you will want to own it -- not just borrow someone else's copy!
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2004
Gervase Frant, Lord St. Erth, heir to broad acres and an ancient and variegated pile known as Stanyon, returns from the Napoleonic Wars to find he is something less than welcome in the ancestral bosom. His widowed stepmother would greatly have preferred his glorious death in battle on the Continent. She has no desire to relinquish her position, and she has hoped that her own son Martin would inherit.
The Earl, in his quiet way, quickly makes a conquest of two eligible young ladies on the scene, but it becomes almost immediately apparent that someone at Stanyon would prefer to have him die by a means more sudden than old age.
Georgette Heyer's comical genius never fails to deliver delight. Much better than anything Jane Austen ever wrote!!!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2006
If you love Heyer you will love this book. The Quiet Gentleman contains all the Heyer elements. You will find a mystery, a wonderful plot, memorable character, the amazing Heyer humor, and, of course, romance. I enjoyed this book very much, and it will be one of those I read over and over again.
Leslie Rosen Davis
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2011
Too much description of the Castle, too many uninteresting characters-I cannot like the heroine, and don't feel very drawn to the hero either. Cannot begin to compare with the best of Ms. Heyer's work. I read it right after re-reading "Frederica" which was probably unfair, but "Gentleman" really suffered by comparison! Can't really recommend it.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2008
An indifferent Heyer novel, however, is worth three books by a lesser author.
My problems with this book are that I found it difficult to like the protagonist (I didn't dislike him, either; I simply found him uninteresting), I found the plot very easy to predict, and the romance seemed to me to spring up out of the blue. Most of Heyer's novels are much better than this, with beautifully-drawn characters and believable romances.
If this were by anyone else, I probably would have given it 4 stars, but it's only an average Heyer novel and not an outstanding one.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2004
As always, Georgette Heyer's humor is the driving force in this wonderful story! Her ability to see the satirical in all social situations make her books an enchanting read. The Quiet Gentleman includes a murderous plot, with the usual mix of gentle romance. A thoroughly enjoyable romp through Regency English society!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2011
It probably would have been this book: a gentle story of mannerly, upper-class people set in Regency England that is primarily a novel of manners but with a hint of romance and suspense. As in all of Heyer's Regency books (at least the few I have read so far), her command of that era is so masterful that it makes for a strong and unshakeable sense of that time and place. In The Quiet Gentleman, in particular, her writing reads as though it were written during that time, not during the 20th century; except for a slightly more streamlined and modern use of language, The Quiet Gentleman reads almost as though it were written by Ms. Austen herself.
That is this book's biggest strength; that and the occasional flashes of wit and tongue-in-cheek humor. I'm thinking in particular of the few scenes near the end of the book involving Mr. and Mrs. Morville; they were wonderfully drawn characters whose appearances were all too brief. Drusilla Morville, the main heroine, was also a wonderful character; she is level-headed, strong, and ever-so practical, although of only mediocre appearance. And when she realizes that she has fallen in love with Gervase Frant, the main character, she is certain he feels nothing for her and bemoans the fact that she cannot even swoon; after all, if she could only occasionally swoon like any well-bred young lady, that would certainly give her some attraction in Gervase's eyes.
But other than these occasional bright spots, The Quiet Gentleman is an apt title for this book, as I found it overall pretty dull. Gervase Frant is a phlegmatic character who, although quite handsome and quite the fashion plate, expresses very little emotion and certainly never stirs any in the reader. His romance with Drusilla Morville proceeds at a quiet, gentle, gradual pace and comes to a quiet and predictable conclusion, just like a Jane Austen novel. And although there is an element of suspense to the story, it is very mild and very predictable; there are two obvious suspects who have strong motives for wanting Gervase dead, and the culprit does indeed end up being one of the two.
The only weaknesses in the book, other than its overall dullness, are the occasional lapses into farce. For instance, when Gervase Frant returns home unscathed from the Napoleonic Wars to claim his title and his inheritance, his step-mother and half-brother are quite open and unabashed in expressing their disappointment that he wasn't killed in battle. I am certain that no decent person, even in the ill-mannered 21st century much less the gently-mannered 19th, would express such an opinion so plainly and openly. And then it was made worse when they inevitably followed up their comments by telling Gervase that it was really ok, because he was a decent fellow and they really didn't wish him ill.
Others have commented that this is one of their favorite Heyers; in fact, Karen Hawkins, in her very nice introduction to this edition, says that. However, I found it overall too dull and nondescript to be a favorite; I still have several Heyers in my to-be-read pile and am certain there must be some more engaging stories among them. But admittedly, I am not a fan of Jane Austen; so to those of you who are, The Quiet Gentleman might very well be a favorite.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Georgette Heyer novels should be printed with a warning. I have to be careful when reading her novels in public. This is because they inevitably cause a goofy smile to be pasted on my face, and I'll start giggling loudly at random times for no apparent reason to the poor, unsuspecting public around me. The Quiet Gentleman is no exception to this rule. Absolutely nothing beats a Heyer Regency romance for the sheer enjoyment factor and witty, intelligent humor. She truly is the closest thing to reading Jane Austen - and is generally more hilarious. The Quiet Gentleman is the perfect combination of mystery and romance. The whodunit aspect of the novel is so carefully plotted that the revelation of the guilty party is an eyebrow-raising surprise. And with the romance, Heyer once again succeeds in bringing together two seemingly irreconcilable individuals who turn out to be, of course, perfect for each other. To all you fellow Austen lovers out there - if you've never read a Heyer, and my enthusiasm still hasn't convinced you to pick one up, read The Quiet Gentleman for the pure novelty factor that the hero can be named Gervase Frant and still be incredibly hot. Unbelievable, but trust me, it's true.