An Accomplished Woman
by Jude Morgan
Reviewed by Annis
Written in the Jane Austen/Georgette Heyer style, An Accomplished Woman is an elegant Georgian comedy of manners. A classic romance with all the requisite misunderstandings and entanglements, its pages snap with acerbic wit, giving it a welcome edge and panache.
Lydia Templeton is perfectly happy with her life. A woman of intelligence and discernment, she acts as hostess and amanuensis for her learned father at the family country manor of Heystead, as well as following her own scholarly pursuits. She enjoys an occasional cultural trip to London, where she stays with her bluff, well-meaning brother George and his pretty, poisonously sweet wife and their children, but has little time for men in general and marriage in particular.
Things are changing, though. Her father has become old and frail, and Lydia has reached the unfortunate age of thirty. Her brother and sister-in-law have begun a relentless matchmaking campaign; when they inherit the family estate, they would much prefer it without an incumbent spinster attached. Out of a sense of duty, Lydia reluctantly accepts the charge of chaperone to her godmother's ward Phoebe for a summer in the resort town of Bath.
An Accomplished Woman is an entertaining cameo of late eighteenth century society, capturing its mannerisms and customs and invoking the issues of the day: the French Revolution, Radicalism, poverty exacerbated by poor harvests, and the fear of popular uprising. Most striking are the vivid characterizations. Clever, capable Lydia, with her sardonic inner voice, is a wonderful creation. She doesn't suffer fools gladly, and sometimes her exasperation overcomes conventional politeness: "Lydia glared away a hovering young buck, strenuously pantalooned and about to simper at them." (2007, 416 pages)
More about An Accomplished Woman at Powell's Books
The Originals: Classic Georgian romantic comedies of manners:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813). More info
The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer (1936). More info
Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer (1970). More info
Other novels by Tim Wilson under the pen names Jude Morgan and Hannah March:
The Complaint of the Dove by Hannah March (1999), the first in a series of Georgian mysteries. More info
Indiscretion by Jude Morgan, a romantic comedy in a similar vein to An Accomplished Woman (2006). More info
Nonfiction about Georgian England:
The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England by Amanda Vickery (1998). More info
Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837 by Linda Colley (1992). More info
Wikipedia article on The Georgian Era
Interactive panoramic views of Georgian architecture in Bath at Bath 360°
Back to Historical Novels: 18th Century
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