Just what I needed after finishing a more weighty and time-consuming read, A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin propelled me along on a wave of flirting and social waltzing. And I gulped it down like a mug of hot chocolate on an icy day.
Kitty Talbot is in need of a husband, quickly. After the deaths of first her mother then her father, Kitty, as the eldest of five girls, is left with the financial and caring responsibilities of her younger sisters and a huge debt. With 12 weeks to pay the money owed or vacate their childhood home Netley Cottage, Kitty decides a husband with the right amount of wealth must be sought. The twenty-year old problem solver, always pragmatic, heads to London with bookish sister Cecily in tow, to stay with an old friend of their mother. Aunt Dorothy is not their aunt and, Kitty fears, her history may not withstand close examination. But Kitty’s plan is to gain admittance to the London season – specifically the circle of ‘the ton’, the wealthiest and most aristocratic of London’s social scene – and find a man richer than is available to her in Dorsetshire. He must wipe out the Talbot debt and ensure the financial security of the five sisters. Aunt Dorothy is the only person Kitty knows, despite never having met the lady, who might help them.
A combination of scheming Becky Sharp and witty Elizabeth Bennet, Kitty occupies the fine line between being a fortune-seeker, a flirt and a liar. She is sharp-witted, charming, eager to learn and brave. The latter quality comes in useful as she must enter ballrooms full of people she knows she recently offended due in part to her lack of knowledge of social conventions and in part to the delicate sensitivities and prejudices of the offended. The social mores of ‘the ton’ are unpredictable, difficult to predict and often silly. So she holds her head high and seeks help from the most unlikely places. Lord Radcliffe, the elder brother of one of Kitty’s first flirtations, becomes an unwilling mentor. In a deal to ensure Kitty will not engage with his younger, naïve brother Archie, Radcliffe agrees to give Kitty guidance on London’s social minefield. Neither is wholly satisfied with their deal. Kitty, because Radcliffe is often unable to give her the most helpful information [how deep or shallow a curtsey should be to people of differing ranks, for example] and Radcliffe because he fears he will never be rid of her.
Funny and entertaining, complete with unpredictable siblings who get into trouble, embarrassing beaux, flirtations and elopements, gambling and pistols, I enjoyed this immensely. The plot moves on swiftly and, though the language and detail sometimes slips from period accuracy, I decided to ignore that and go with the fun.
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If you like this, try:-
‘The Convenient Marriage’ by Georgette Heyer
‘The 20s Girl, The Ghost, and All That Jazz’ by June Kearns
‘The Girl at the Window’ by Rowan Coleman
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A LADY’S GUIDE TO FORTUNE-HUNTING by @SophieHIrwin #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-5Sq via @SandraDanby