I found this collection thanks to one of the many articles that pop up in my social media recommending various types of book to me. I can’t remember what the list was (I think it was some sort of recommendations from the New York Public Library), but given last month’s arrival of snowstorm Elliot plus the overwhelming amount of holiday stuff I had to do, a collection of short stories set in the Regency period seemed like a fun diversion. And it absolutely was! If you love Jane Austen and/or Bridgerton, Georgette Heyer is a great choice for reading. While she was a prolific novelist, Snowdrift allows you to dip into little stories and gets right to the good stuff. This collection has 14 stories, and while they do perhaps become a bit repetitive and predictable, they are still charming and served as an antidote to some of the heavier reading I did in 2022.
All of these stories deal with families of ‘the Ton,’ that is, London society in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The stories mostly deal with young ladies of marriageable age and the very eligible, wealthy and handsome society men who cross their paths. Happy endings are the name of the game here with slight changes in setting/circumstances for the main characters. A good number of stories feature characters who might run off to Gretna Green to elope; some stories involve characters whose finances are precarious, making the need for a good marriage important but, of course, potentially lessening the odds of marrying for love. One of my favorite stories, “Pistols for Two,” actually had little to do with romance and much to do with friendship between two young men who are both interested in the same girl. Two other stories that I enjoyed centered on older female characters— “A Husband for Fanny” is about a widowed woman with an eligible daughter, and “Runaway Match” is about a 30-year-old governess whose charge has run off to Gretna Green. Heyer’s female characters are either smart, spirited women who know what they want and won’t be stopped from pursuing it, or sweet and selfless ladies whose efforts are mainly on someone else’s behalf but end up helping themselves. The men are all handsome and wealthy, the kind of guys whom all of society knows, respects and pursues. They tend to either be arrogant and intimidating men (think Mr. Darcy) who are made gentler by love, or kind fellows with a sense of humor who can defuse combustible situations. Like I wrote above, happy endings abound in all of the stories, and while the speed with which young people fall in love and get engaged is somewhat alarming, it was still good fun to read.
Snowdrift is the equivalent of empty calories, a box of chocolates that you can dip into when necessary to give yourself a little boost. It’s not the kind of reading that I would make a steady habit of, but it was a lovely treat for the holidays.