When young and beautiful governess Kate Malvern finds herself unemployed, she is taken in by Minerva Broome, the aunt she has never met, and whisked away to the majestic country home of Staplewood. However, things are not as they seem: strange things start to happen in the manor and Staplewood soon turns from an inviting stately house to a cold and gloomy mansion with a dreadful secret! One of Georgette Heyer’s later novels, Cousin Kate sees the author take a more experimental turn as she blends the regency romance genre with the suspenseful style of Gothic horror.
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Truly Appalling Reader!
Heyer is a great author and I have all of her books, many in audio book version. I have an old recording of this one on cassette tape, read (very well) by Sean Phillips. This version, however, is completely ruined by a truly awful performance! The reader hams every line to the skies, putting on a variety of dreadful, hysterically-rendered voices. Reluctantly, I am going to have to apply for my money back on this one. It is impossible to continue listening to it.
A Heyer that is slightly different
I didn't warm to Cousin Kate when I first read it, but after a re-read it became a favourite. Slightly different from her usual comedies of manners, with dashes of Gothic, it still has the wonderful cast of supporting characters we've come to expect. For me in this they are Sarah, Kate's former Nurse, now a busy matriarch running her husband's family and Inn in London, and Sarah's glorious elderly father-in-law. And there's always Kate's monstrous social mountaineering Aunt Minerva...
This is a sad story in some ways but I don't want to give spoilers. It still has plenty of comedy and a pleasant romance, with a decent ending, and some interesting sidelights on Inn life in the 19C. Jilly Bond's narration is perfectly acceptable, but a bit arch at times. Perhaps I've been spoiled by too many Phyllida Nash readings? It is well worth listening to, even if you've already read the book.