Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle by Georgette Heyer

Sylvester Rank, wealth, and elegance are no match for a young lady who writes novels…

Sylvester, Duke of Salford, has exacting requirements for a bride. Then he encounters Phoebe Marlow, a young lady with literary aspirations, and suddenly life becomes very complicated. She meets none of his criteria, and even worse, she has written a novel that is sweeping the ton and causing all kinds of gossip…and he’s the main character!

Book Details: Publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2011, 937-4022-3880-2, Trade Paperback, $13.99, 386 pages Source: Purchased from B&N


519z1yhTPQL__SL175_ When Sylvester, the Duke of Salford, first meets Phoebe Marlow, he finds her dull and insipid. She finds him insufferably arrogant. But when a series of unforeseen events leads them to be stranded together in a lonely country inn, they are both forced to reassess their hastily formed opinions, and begin a new-found liking and respect for each other.

Sylvester calls to mind the satirical genius of a Jane Austen novel and is adored for its wit and a fast-paced plot, which ranges across a myriad of settings.

Audiobook Details: Naxos Audiobooks, 2009, 9626349255, mp3, $9.80, 4 hours 51  minutes, Narrated by: Richard Armitage Source: Purchased from

My Thoughts:

When Sylvester Rayne, Duke of Salford, decides to marry, he makes a list of requirements that his bride must have then runs off and seeks his mother’s advice. Knowing that he does not love any of the five women on his list, she tells him not to marry until he falls in love, then sends him to his godmother who tells him about her eligible granddaughter, Phoebe Marlow.

Phoebe Marlow does not meet any of the Duke’s requirements and when she discovers that the Duke may ask for her hand, she run’s off with aid of her friend, Tom who happens to be the squires son. Although when nasty weather throws the Duke and Phoebe together, Phoebe starts to realize that Sylvester is not quite the villain she made him out to be in novel she wrote.

Fate intervenes even further when Sylvester’s young nephew—and ward—Edward is kidnapped by his eccentric mother and Phoebe tries to retries the boy, leading to even more time spent with Sylvester.

Misunderstanding, arrogance, and the wicked wit that is woven into Sylvester, or The Wicked Uncle, is highly reminiscent of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. With characters both realistic and eccentric this novel thoroughly entertains. One of my favorite Georgette Heyer novels.

As I have been on a Georgette Heyer kick for the last few weeks, I thought that I would give the audio version a try, plus Sylvester was this months pick for my book club. Seeing that it was read by none other than Richard Armitage (North & South, Robin Hood, MI-5/Spooks, The Vicar of Dibley) I knew that I *had* to purchase the audiobook. I made my mistake in not reading the description so I failed to realize that this was the abridged version.

While I could listen to Richard Armitage velvety voice all the days of my life (and he does a brilliant job at brining the characters to life), I still could not get over the fact that huge chunks of the book were omitted. While some of the omitted bits were nothing more the minor descriptions of the setting, others were key scenes that made the book grand. And I noticed that the omissions became larger after chapter 19, meaning that most of the ending was cut from the audiobook.

Having read the book countless times, to me these omissions were pronounced. I wondered what fresh listeners would think of the book and during my book club discussion one of the ladies said that she had listened to the audio version rather than read the book and the book felt incomplete to her, so apparently I was not the only one to notice the injustice the audiobook does the actual book.

Book or Audiobook? Definitely the book, especially for newbie readers. Sadly, I am afraid that not even the lovely Richard Armitage could save the unabridged audiobook.

Best Wishes & Happy Reading or listening,

angela new


Laura Fabiani said...

Aaawww...too bad you got the abridged version by mistake. I will remember this the next time I buy an audio book.

Jenny Allworthy said...

I just finished Sylvester too and loved it! I am on a Heyer kick and I have started a petition to try to bring a Georgette Heyer novel to film.

If you or any of your wonderful readers agree that we need a Georgette Heyer film, please sign our petition. A link is on my blog,