Review: The Heiress Companion
First published in 1981, The Heiress Companion is a simple romance where a group of unmarried people descend on the same house and have to overcome differences in opinion and social standing before any resolution can be reached.
At the forefront of the novel is Rowena Cherwood who is in her late twenties and unmarried, having turned down suitors previously. Unwilling to live with her aunt she has become companion of the ageing Lady Bradwell. Lady Bradwell’s home is owned by one of her sons – Jack – with a second son – Lyndon – returning after being abroad for some time. Rowena is also joined by her cousin, Margaret, and the Ambercots including two of Rowena’s childhood friends – Jane and Ulysses along with their scheming sister Eliza. With such a gathering of young and eligible people in one house it’s inevitable that romance will bloom but who will end up with whom?
This is a very simple and unfortunately predictable novel. Rowena has spurned the advances of suitors in the past and though her cousin Margaret is initially perceived as ideal for Lyndon Bradwell, it is Rowena that he becomes keen on. This is no problem to Margaret who falls for Ulysses Ambercot, while Jane Ambercot falls for Jack Bradwell. Eliza Ambercot is keen on Lyndon and begins plotting to scupper Rowena’s chances with him. While two of the couples seem to have romances that are resolved with little issue, Rowena and Lyndon inevitably find major obstacles preventing them from being together.
Though the scheming of Eliza was quite interesting, the novel overall doesn’t leave you dreading that any happy endings will be disrupted. Even the advances of a doctor’s assistant do little to impact on Rowena and in the end the obstacle separating her from Lyndon is strictly between the two of them and has nothing to do with any third parties. Even then the story is resolved very easily and although many readers will rejoice in the ending I just didn’t feel there had been much of a challenge in getting there.
Rowena is an interesting character, independent and strong-willed but the romance between her and Lyndon didn’t convince me entirely. This is still a refreshing story in that there is no sex and it emphasises the importance of good manners and etiquette at this time. It doesn’t work for me in the respect that a small group of people meet and everyone seems to conveniently fall in love with someone else in a very short space of time.
The Heiress Companion isn’t a bad period romance novel but it’s not one I would hail as a masterpiece either. The difficult obstacles of Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre are not really evident here. Though Rowena and Lyndon seem like the gulf between them will never be bridged, the novel soon brushes aside any challenges affecting the three couples at the heart of the story.
(Book source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers)