The Novel Cure: Literary prescriptions for not wanting to interfere
Ailment: Interfere, not wanting to
Cure: The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
The tendency to refrain from interfering when your best friend, colleague or brother embarks on a seemingly foolish course of action is a peculiarly English trait. No one likes a busybody; but is leaving well alone really the kindest thing to do? After all, who else can we depend upon to save us from ourselves, if not those who know and love us best?
When Sophy Stanton-Lacy, the spirited heroine of this quintessential Georgette Heyer romance, is deposited with her aunt by her diplomat father, she finds them tied in all sorts of knots from which they show neither the aptitude nor desire to extricate themselves. The eldest son, Charles, is engaged to the overly correct Eugenia, a frightful bore who nobody else can stand. Lovely Cecilia is infatuated with the penniless poet Augustus Fawnhope, who only wants Cecilia for a muse. Young Herbert is up to his neck in debt. And Lady Ombersley has adopted the peculiar habit of sniffing the vinaigrette to keep herself from passing out.
Luckily for the hapless crew, Sophy – schooled in Vienna and Spain – not only has the ability to identify the problems and invent brilliant alternative plans, but the confidence, even at 20, to put those plans into action. She's also not afraid to be disliked. When the ineffectual Mr Wychbold stands by, muttering "Very bad business," and "Nothing to be done," Sophy retorts, "That is what people always say when they are too lazy, or too timorous, to make a push and be helpful!" By the end, she's found elegant solutions for everyone, including herself.
Next time a friend or relative seems intent on plunging headlong into disaster, take a cue from the irrepressible Sophy. Make their business your business, too.
'The Novel Cure, An A-Z of Literary Remedies' (Canongate, £17.99); thenovelcure.com
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Husband creates spreadsheet detailing wife's 'excuses' for turning down sex
- 2 Saneie Masilela, 9, marries Helen Shabangu, 53 years his senior, for the second time
- 3 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 4 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 5 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley star in trailer for new Alan Turing film The Imitation Game
Endeavour series 2, episode 4 - TV review: A gripping, sordid, startling and magnificent end to the series
It looks like Krusty the Clown is the major Simpsons character death
Russell T Davies wants your 'sexcapades' for new web series Tofu about modern sex culture
Star Wars 7: Plot details 'leak', with sequel's opening sequence and premise revealed
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains