The Rake and the Redhead

Written by Emily Johnson
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

This is the story of Miss Hyacinthe Dancy and Blase, Lord Norwood, based around a small village on Lord Norwood’s estate not far from Oxford. He is planning a major re-landscaping project which will mean destroying the village, including the ancient village church and moving all the inhabitants into new cottages. Hyacinthe’s cousin, Jane, is one of those who will lose her home. The romantic theme follows the usual Regency formula intertwined with lost jewels, secret passages and a haunted manor house.

I found the story interesting in that it had a genuine historical background. This sort of enterprise was common in the late 18th and 19th centuries, another great exponent being Capability Brown, but found the style of writing, after a while, irritating with an overabundance of supposed Regency terms and not a few inconsistencies. We are told that Hyacinthe wore a coquelicot Poland mantle. Although this was very fashionable in America, I could find no reference to it in English dress. The author also had the two girls described as ‘twits’ on one occasion. The word, in this sense, was not used until 1935.

A book to pass the time on a long journey but not one to be taken seriously.