"The Talisman Ring" by Georgette Heyer {Books}

First thing which strikes me is that this is a mad caper. All the characters are crazy, ok, only the ladies. If you think you can't imagine, you should read this novel and your's too will start running well-beyond the defined realms. The novel is entirely humorous without being witty.

Sylvester Lavenham is on his death bed and commands his nephew, Shield, to marry his grand daughter, Eustacie. Neither of the prospective bride and groom take a fancy to each other and consequently, Eustacie runs away. On the journey, she gets captured by a gang of smugglers and one of the smuggler takes a fancy to her. That smuggler turns out to be her cousin Ludovic who is the heir of Sylvester Lavenham but was turned out of England on account of a murder which he actually did not commit. A long story which gives the back ground of this murder case but the precise story lines is finding out the real murderer and reinstating the heir. So, on this flight, Ludovic gets shot by the excise men following the smuggler's gang and Ludovic is carried off to an inn by Eustacie. There, she meets a sympathizer in Sarah Thane who immediately earns her gratitude by helping Eustacie through the ordeal of restoring Ludovic.

Next morning, Shield comes to the inn in search of Eustacie and he meets Sarah who tries to persuade him to leave Eustacie alone for the time being. In the mean time, the excise man from the last night turns up and is fed a very believable story concocted hours ago by Eustacie. Then, Ludovic is joined by Shield (who is amazed to see Ludovic), Sarah and Eustacie. And, here is the mad cap. The ladies imaginations run riot and the gentlemen are left to hold them in the world of present. This is perhaps one of the most endearing scenes of Heyer's career and I strongly suspect if Sarah Thane is a very close portrayal of Heyer. Returning to the novel, whenever the four of the principal characters are together, you will be obliged to laugh yourself into stitches.  

The story progresses as to how the principal characters make the cousin (who is the actual murdered) fall prey to his own traps. The character of Sarah and Shield gain importance in the later story and overall the book is very enjoyable and one of the best pieces of work from the author.

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