Book Review; Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle
By Georgette Heyer
Endowed with rank, wealth and elegance, Sylvester, Duke of Salford, posts into Wiltshire to discover if the Honorable Phoebe Marlow will meet his exacting requirements for a bride. If he does not expect to meet a tongue-tied stripling wanting both manners and conduct, then he is intrigued indeed when his visit causes Phoebe to flee her home. They meet again on the road to London, where her carriage has come to grief in the snow. Yet Phoebe, already caught in one imbroglio, now knows she soon could be well deep in another…
Adult Point of View
Georgette Heyer is known for Regency Romance novels and Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle was written in 1957. Sylvester is a nonsensical romp through Regency England bordering on a farce.
The characters are a parody and fun to laugh over. Sir Nugent is the rich, foolish man, Ianthe is the self-centered beauty, Sylvester is the prideful heartthrob, Phoebe is the earnest, angelic young woman and Tom is the upstanding youth always ready to help.
There are elements to argue that Sylvester is a Byronic Hero. He is dark and brooding. He suffers from the tragedy of his twin brother’s death. He is shackled to his obligations and position. He needs to be saved by the pure female, in this case, Phoebe. However, there are no supernatural elements, the weather doesn’t reflect the mood of the novel and the tone is light.
Sylvester abounds with colloquial expressions. Using slang can ground a book in a time period or the character’s station and education. Even though I enjoyed Sylvester, Heyer uses so many quaint expressions it becomes cumbersome. Some examples of used words include: grudgeon, he’s a prime gun, fancy, hoydenish, funning, made a mull of it, devilish queer thing, and what a dog I should be.
I enjoyed reading Sylvester on a hot summer day.