MINERVA by Marion Chesney
Kirkus Star


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The Reverend Armitage, vicar of rural St. Charles and St. Jude, is a decidedly happy man in 1811, with fine twin sons and six beautiful daughters. . . but he's also decidedly out-of-pocket. The solution occurs to him while stumbling through a sermon written for him by his eldest daughter Minerva: Minerva will marry a fortune--insuring education for the boys, Seasons for the girls, and a paradise of hunting Novembers for the vicar himself. So the lovely Minerva, though busy with managing the family (Mrs. Armitage is given to her famous ""Spasms"") and tiresomely involved in Good Works, agrees to this noble sacrifice of doing a Season. . . under the patronage of a distant relative, Lady Godolphin. Poor little righteous Minerva has her first dose of exalted company at a neighboring fair, where she confronts the rather terrifying Lord Sylvester Comfrey--""an awesome amalgam of exquisite tailoring and barbering and manicuring."" (Before she travels to London Minerva will manage to literally knock Comfrey breathless--by falling downstairs on top of him. . .and by hurling herself into the wrong inn room.) Then, in London, there's Lady Godolphin, a thrice-married ""marvellous sinner"" of wonderful malapropisms. And off they go to routs and various do's--where Minerva's country-bred niceness and sterner moral saws are the snickering talk of decadent gentlemen like Lord Chumley (who looks like ""an embittered sheep""). Throughout Minerva's trials, however, Comfrey guides and plots and comforts, explaining such matters as the naughty doings of Lady G.: ""Age does not damp those embarrassing fires that burn within. . . ."" So, despite the dandies' dreadful pranks, clumsy-to-sinister attempts on Minerva's virtue, and a duel in the wind, it all ends beautifully--complete with a subplot about Minerva's sister Annabelle, who'll have the next book in Chesney's projected series. And, indeed, readers who long for the brightest and best of today's Regencies will give thanks that the Reverend Armitage has five more daughters!

Pub Date: Aug. 26th, 1983
Publisher: St. Martin's