Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer

Bath Tangle by Georgette HeyerBath Tangle by Georgette Heyer
Published: Sourcebooks Casablanca (1955), eBook, 362pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

The Earl of Spenborough had always been noted for his eccentricity. Leaving a widow younger than his own daughter Serena was one thing, but leaving his fortune to the trusteeship of the Marquis of Rotherham the one man the same daughter had jilted was quite another.

When Serena and her lovely young stepmother Fanny decide to move to Bath, Serena makes an odd new friend and discovers an old love. Before long, they're all entangled in a clutter of marriage and manners the likes of which even Regency Bath has rarely seen.

The title is on point: this book is so tangled I’m surprised I didn’t end up with curly hair by the time I put it down. It was super tiring, and hilarious, and lot of fun– even WITH all the plot hijinks.

I think this is also the first time I’ve run in the female version of an alphahole. Serena is terrible. I came really close to throwing my Kindle across the room several times because of how much of a jerk she was being AND because nobody was really calling her on it. They knew she was being mean, but they kinda excused it because that’s just her personality or something. (Maybe being rich helped, too.) Which, fine, whatever, you can be a bully if that’s what you want to be, I don’t care.

BUT THEN the hero was an alphahole, too! They were both alphaholes!! Alphaholes in love with each other, which is surprising by itself because I think usually in romances an alphahole is drawn to someone who makes them “better” or some BS like that. I kinda loved that the two biggest a-holes in the book were totally into each other, even as I wept for the destruction their combined a-hole forces will undoubtedly cause.

The B couple (Fanny and Spoiler) were, in comparison, so much like wet noodles that I’m surprised they weren’t decimated under the tsunami force that is Serena and Ivo. At least they found comfort in each other, I suppose?

Actually, now that I think about it, I’m surprised I liked Bath Tangle as much as I did. The characters were SO ANNOYING…and yet! I still liked them, weirdly enough. I mean, no way would I want to be anywhere withing five feet of Serena or Ivo, but I totally want to read a book about them. Their terribleness is magnetic.

Besides the characters, there’s an interesting thing in Bath Tangle which I haven’t seen yet in any of the other GH books I’ve read. A good chunk of the book is spent discussing the complications of an older man marrying a much younger woman. In particular, it talks about how it’s probably a bad idea, especially when it’s NOT a love match. There’s even an in-universe example: Fanny, Serena’s step-mother, is younger than Serena is, she was not in love with Serena’s father and didn’t even want to marry him. But because she was so young, and because her mother was so overbearing, she was basically forced into marriage at a very young age. (Then he conveniently died and she could move on to someone closer to her own age who she actually loved.)

I think the idea at the time was that a young wife would give her husband energy or something? (Also, she’d still be able to have babies for a longer period of time than an older woman would.) But I still find it highly suspect when a 50-something year old man wants to marry a teenager, even IF he’s richer than god.

Bath Tangle also goes into a little about class and wealth and society’s expectations that a woman should be happy to marry anybody, even someone older than her own father, if that man were rich enough. Serena thought so herself, even when she should know better.

In fact, Serena spent a lot of the book being pig-headed and horrible to Fanny and Ivo’s potential teenage bride, even after Fanny tried to explain to her the enormous pressures an unmarried woman felt when her family was trying to marry her off to someone she didn’t like. Serena lacked empathy; she herself had a spine of steel and an over-indulgent father, so she couldn’t understand anyone who lived otherwise. She never changed for the better, either–another strike against her.

I liked that GH took the time to try and explain (or work through?) the difficulties Regency era heroines had regarding love and marriage. It made the book feel less fluffy and ridiculous–it balanced out the crazy tangled plot, as well.

Read: November 19-21, 2014

4 thoughts on “Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer”

  1. It sounds like GH veered a bit into character territory from her mysteries because you know what they are full of? Alphaholes! And more than that, ones that fall in love.

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