The Alpha, The Frivol and the Kindly Young Man

Oh, I love Freddy in Cotillion. He’s so kind. I don’t think many of Georgette Heyer’s heroes are.  He’s not just kind to Kitty,either;  he’s pretty good to his sisters and I love his relationship with his parents.

But I’m not sure I’d call Freddy a Frivol, exactly. He’s not mischievous. Though I agree with Liz, Jan, Evonne and Jane, there are a lot of other similarities. And he’s certainly a charmer, not least because he doesn’t know it himself.

There are hints of  Heyer’s other daffy young men in Freddy, of course. Think of Viscount Dashwood in The Convenient Marriage or the whole crew out of Friday’s Child.  (Sherry and his friends always reminded me of William Brown’s Outlaws, actually.  But then I was quite young when I read Frdiay’s Child). But I’m sure Jane is right, Freddy is unique as a romantic lead. 

Cotillion must have been a real challenge to write. It has got an Alpha hero in Jack.  Only, for once, we see the Alpha as he really is: wilful, impatient, arrogant, as well as sex on a stick. And he gets his come uppance. Ultimately he doesn’t deserve Kitty – and she sees it before he does!   

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Cotillion may not be High Romance but it is amazingly touching – especially when you realise that Freddy has known all along what Kitty was up to and has fallen in love with her anyway. And then, when he asks her to marry him but doesn’t expect her to say yes because he isn’t romantic, there is a whiff of real pain. 

Actually, I think Georgette Heyer undersold herself when she said all her heroes were either Mark I or Mark II. My favourites are all pretty unique.  I adore Sylvester, who is very high in the instep, occasionally arrogant, but kind, too, if he chooses to be. Much more complicated than an unadulterated Alpha.  Of course, wicked, wonderful Damerel is pretty Alpha but I forgive him.  And then there’s glorious Hugo in The Unknown Ajax who winds up his estranged family by talking like his groom and pretending he went to a scrubby Dame School instead of Harrow.

Now I come to think of it, Hugo just might be a Frivol after all.  I thought Georgette Heyer didn’t get the full enchantment of the Frivol, but I may have done her unjust.  I can just see Hugo getting the giggles.

Liz, Jan, Evonne, Jane, you are geniuses.

17 Responses to “The Alpha, The Frivol and the Kindly Young Man”

  • Oh, yes, Jenny, the convention-turning-on-head is one of the reasons I love Cotillion. And Freddy is so RIGHT for Kitty, because she really does think he is wise and wonderful. And yes, that bit at the end where he is very carefully picking a piece of fluff off his sleeve when Jack pops the question… true hero stuff.

    Hugo as a Frivol? Do you know – you’re right!. I was thinking possibly John in The Toll Gate who is in the same style, but Hugo is definitely laughing quietly the whole time. Especially when he is so ‘deferrent’ to the inglorious Claud on the subject of clothes. And then when it counts he takes charge, just like that. Happy sigh.

  • Now you ae seriously interfering with my finishing revisions. All I want to do is go get my old Heyers off the shelf and start re-reading. Shame, Jenny!

  • Oh, Jenny, I’m with Anne, tossing aside second draft of current wip and heading for bookshelves. You’ve just reminded me I haven’t read Freddy for years, or Hugo either, and they’re two of my favourite heroes of all time. In fact I think Hugo from Unknown Ajax would have to win, beating even Mr. Darcy (except when he morphs into Colin Firth!)

    So they’re Frivols. And I love them. Is this why I can never write a truly Alpha hero? Like truly great sex – just at the good bits I always want to giggle. In books that is 🙂

    Ooh, is this a bad way to do my first post to your lovely new blog?

  • Jenny Haddon:

    Jan, you sent me back to read that scene. You’re quite right, it’s real happy sigh material.

    Anne, Marion, no, Don’t do as I do, do as I SAY. Back to the revisions and the drafts and write, mes soeurs, WRITE. Yours are books I need.

  • Hmm… Now, the only Heyer I’ve read (I know, shame on me) is The Grand Sophy – which you recommended to me and I really enjoyed.

    Would Cotillion be a good second one for me to read (aka a carrot to do some work – actually, wouldn’t take a carrot, just the end of the school holidays, please) or would you suggest something else?

    (And I’m thoroughly enjoying your Frivols pieces.)

  • Jenny Haddon:

    Kate, I’m very fond of Cotillion. It’s not a typical Heyer but it’s very endearing and there are some truly rewarding eccentric characters in it, quite apart from the hero. and the love story is truly charming. I’d say give it a go.

    But if you want one that is closer to high romance, with a few more romantic fireworks, and the most wonderful, nervy but determined author in it, you might try one of my other favourites, Sylvester. Though there are some serious eccentrics in that too, now I come to think of it.


  • liz:

    These last two posts hae made me want to reach for my Heyers but they are all back in Dubai 🙁 It will have to wait a week.

  • Jenny Haddon:

    Everyone’s comments sent me back to Heyer, too, Liz. What a master she was. Enjoy!

  • Thank you, Jenny. As my TBR bookshelf has been moved (on the pretext of painting our room), I’ve just ordered some replacements to keep me going until my bookshelf is restored. (Great excuse, eh?) Will look forward to reading those two.

  • Mary Balogh did her own version of the set up in Cotillion (Tempting Harriet) where the heroine did end up with the alpha male, and a desperate cousin attempted a villainous act. In the sequel, which I loved, said desperate cousin marries an invalid girl for her money, and slowly reforms. (Dancing with Clara) It’s utterly gorgeous!

    And yes, I’m with Marion, here — for my money Hugo is one of my favorite Heyer heroes. That lurking twinkle, those shoulders, that kindness, and in the end, that strategic brilliance.

  • I once tried to rewrite Cotillion for M&B and ended up with the most arrogant alpha hero I’ve ever written and sex on the morning room floor. 🙂 Georgette Heyer was the genius.

  • Jenny Haddon:

    Anne, yes you can see why Hugo is a successful soldier, can’t you? Definitely a man for getting a task done by hook or by crook.

    Liz, gimme, gimme, gimme. How come I missed that one? Title PLEASE!

  • It’s really early (the pages on my copy are yellow!) and I don’t have spares. Maybe a library will still have a copy. It’s called Conflict of Hearts and had the most hideous cover imaginable. They turned my elegant art dealer into a scruff who turned up for his wedding without bothering to shave.

  • There, there. Nobody actually looks at the covers. They just look at the name of the author.

  • Jenny Haddon:

    Oh come on, Jan, the AUTHOR looks at the covers. You love your covers, both for STAGE BY STAGE and FAIR DECEPTION, quite rightly. You wait until you have a sheikh who looks like a spotty sixteen year old, or similar.

    Karin Stoecker, HMB’s Editorial Director once said to me she didn’t understand why authors got so worked up about covers – the evidence was that most readers look at them for something like 3 seconds. To which I said, ‘They’re on my bookshelves for my lifetime.’ A ghastly (and I’ve had some ghastlies in my time) is like sending your daughter to a party dressed in a smelly bin bag. It hurts.

  • Ah. Yes, you are right, as always. I’d forgotten my own LP and Audio covers – deliberately.

    I shall still hunt for Liz’s Conflict of Hearts however. I’m a loyal reader, I am.

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