Minerva marks the delightful debut of The Six Sisters, a family saga in six volumes that will recount the romantic adventures of the six marriageable daughters of a country vicar, the Reverend Charles Armitage, in Regency England. The eldest, Minerva, is enchantingly beautiful - but a prude. She lives in the country looking after her siblings while her mother reclines on a chaise longue happily inventing new malaises. Her father, a vicar of decidedly secular inclinations, indulges a hearty passion for hunting instead of worrying about the girls' dowries. But when he wants to send his boys to Eton, the money must be found - and how better than by marrying Minerva off to a man of fortune?
Dispatched to Town, Minerva experiences her first season under the wing of an elderly relative. But age, it seems, is no guarantee of respectability, and Lady Godolphin's plan for a good time scandalize her young charge. Finally Minerva's moralizing ways make her the subject of a shocking wager among the rakes and dandies of Regency London.
Meanwhile, the handsome Lord Sylvester Comfrey is observing her progress in the marriage market. For such a virtuous girl, Minerva unaccountably finds herself in some extremely compromising situations with this gentleman, who alas professes not to be the marrying kind.
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Rengency tale not up to scratch.
As for the book itself, if you are looking for Georgette Heyer, well, this is not the worst. But it's not great, either. Beaton uses the requisite amount of Regency vocabulary, imitates many of the features of Heyer's heros and heroines and surrounding characters, but the book just never quite feels genuine. Minerva isn't really all that sympathetic (most of the plot turns upon the fact that she is a prig, which makes her the target of the malevolent machinations of a pack of evil dandies), and Sylvester borrows the pallid, distant charm of one of Heyer's aristocratic heroes but lacks the humor and warmth that might redeem him, in spite of an overbaked sex scene that seemed really out of place for the period. Finally, seeming to have run out of options, Beaton paints herself in to a corner by nonsensically separating her lovers but then has to resort to a plot trick to get them back together.
But the writing was workmanlike, at least, and I might have found it amusing had not the reading been marred, at least initially, by peculiarities in the reading by Charlotte Anne Dore. Making use of a nice, throaty voice and a pleasant, almost intimate tone, Dore does a very nice job of creating different voices for her characters (and is particularly adept whenever a child speaks in the story), but I do so wish that she had better breath control and had done a spot more homework on the correct pronunciation of words with which she seems to have been unfamiliar.
Dore often put annoying pauses in between words in illogical places, breathing sometimes several times in one sentence, rather than with the punctuation, so that the sense of what she was saying was often interrupted, a habit that became really grating. Many times, she pronounced "a" as "ay" rather than "uh" before common nouns ( in, for example, "there was ay cook, ay housekeeper..."), put a "k" on the end of "anything" and "something" ( and not when a lower class person was speaking, which would perhaps make sense, but when the narrator was speaking, who presumably ought to know better), and didn't know how to pronounce many words at all, for example (among many): curricle (cuh-ricle as in curry, NOT kyoo-ricle as in curate or cuticle); marquess (markwess NOT markess); parental (pah-rental NOT pair-ental); portrait NOT portrayt; and more egregiously, parsiMONIous NOT parSIMonous (I suppose Dore just read this one wrong, skipping over a syllable, but that begs the question, where were her editors? Was there no one in the sound booth listening in?)
A little more planning, dictionary work, and practice before the recording would be well worth the time of this otherwise very appealing and often charming performer. As it was, I really don't think I could do it again and would avoid her readings in the future. Just too distracting!
Alas, taken altogether, not quite worth the price of admission, and I doubt I will spring for the rest of series.
Not in this series.
Throaty and sympathetic, but under-rehearsed.
Nope. Not to be a prig?
I think I've said more than enough.
- Constance "Mom in Movement"
If you like Emma, you'll like this one