A Little Folly

Jude Morgan, Author
Jude Morgan. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-2500-2227-1
Reviewed on: 01/07/2013
Release date: 03/12/2013
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-7553-5961-5
Paperback - 406 pages - 978-1-250-03818-0
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-250-02226-4
Hardcover - 387 pages - 978-0-7505-3426-0
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The pseudonymous Morgan’s twist-packed new novel (after The Secret Life of William Shakespeare) finds Valentine and Louisa Carnell under the thumb of their father, a man of “harsh, narrow, and illiberal views” whose tyrannical temper and impossible standards keeps them largely isolated on the Regency-era palatial Devonshire estate. But his death, “struck by a paroxysm that dropped him speechless to the ground,” gives the siblings, now into their 20s, freedom to be in the world; they’ll redecorate the drawing room, throw dinner parties, and reject, in Louisa’s case, the vain suitor of her father’s choosing. They also open their home to Tom and Sophie, long-lost cousins from London, and to their cousins’ traveling companion, the mysterious Lady Harriet Eversholt, whose scandalous circumstances capture Valentine’s attention. At Tom and Sophie’s urging, it’s on to London, where everyone is celebrating the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Valentine frequents Lady Harriet’s gambling house, and Louisa strikes up a promising friendship with the brooding lieutenant Lynley. But city life has its pitfalls: Valentine’s gambling debts accrue and Lady Harriet’s jealous husband threatens to destroy the Carnells’ fortunes and reputation. Morgan’s preoccupation with capturing the exact timbre of Regency literature results in the occasional stilted, leaden passage, but her wry, snappy dialogue and well-formed characters are a delight. Agent: Meg Davis, the Ki Agency. (Mar.)
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