Monday, August 03, 2009

It strikes again...

Horrors! Another publisher has fallen prey to The Curse of the Georgette Heyer Back Cover Blurb, as Ace and Harlequin and Arrow have done before it!

Here's what's written on the back cover of the recently-released Sourcebooks edition of Heyer's The Nonesuch:

An impetuous flight
Tiffany Wield's bad behavior is a serious trial to her chaperone. "On the shelf" at twenty-eight, Ancilla Trent strives to be a calming influence on her tempestuous charge, but then Tiffany runs off to London alone and Ancilla is faced with a devastating scandal.

A gallant rescue
Sir Waldo Hawkridge, confirmed bachelor and one of the wealthiest men in London, comes instantly to the aid of the intrepid Ancilla to stop Tiffany's flight, and in the process discovers that it's never too late for the first bloom of love.
Admittedly, as The Curse goes, this one isn't too bad. Apart from some minor mistakes (Ancilla is twenty-six, not twenty-eight, and Sir Waldo is not a confirmed bachelor), the biggest problem with this description is that it's highly misleading.

Nine-tenths of The Nonesuch is about Ancilla, Tiffany, and Sir Waldo's interactions in a country town outside of Leeds. Ancilla is Tiffany's governess-companion, and her job is far from easy: Tiffany is as selfish and heedless as she is beautiful, and Ancilla is constantly straining to find new ways to manipulate her young charge into at least the appearance of good behavior. When the highly desirable Sir Waldo and his handsome young cousin appear in this sleepy village, Tiffany determines to bring both men to their knees—but it becomes increasingly clear that Ancilla, not Tiffany, is the woman who interests Sir Waldo.

Admittedly, Tiffany does plan a flight to London (which doesn't happen), and Ancilla would have been left to face a scandal (although not a personally "devastating" one) had she succeeded, and Sir Waldo does come to Ancilla's aid, but that's at the end of the book. In fact, this particular blurb gives away the entire climax and dénouement of the novel, while saying very little about the first 300 pages... and proves, once again, that The Curse is not to be trifled with.



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