The Toll-gate, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (7 ratings)


Captain John Staple's exploits in the Peninsula had earned him the sobriquet 'Crazy' Jack amongst his fellows in the Dragoon Guards.

Now home from Waterloo, life in peacetime is rather dull for the boisterous, adventure-loving Captain.

But when he finds himself lost and benighted at an unmanned toll-house in the Pennines, his soldiering days suddenly pale away besides an adventure - and romance - of a lifetime.

Yet again Georgette Heyer shows the qualities that made her one of the most successful and best-loved romantic novelists of her age, and why her popularity endures to this day.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9780099476368

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Showing 1 - 5 of 7 reviews.

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Review by

Captain John Staple leaves a very dull house party to go visit a friend for hunting. Taking a short cut his horse throws a shoe and then it begins to downpour. By now it is after dark and searching for a farmhouse to take shelter in he comes across a toll gate being manned by a very young, frightened boy. His dad is the gate keeper and he has disappeared. John decides to stay the night at the gate house and keep the boy company. In the morning, when she passes through the gate to go to church, John meets the Squire’s granddaughter, a strong and strong minded young woman who has been acting as squire since her grandfather had a stroke and he decides maybe he’ll stay a while and find out what is going on. This is one of Heyer’s most delightful historical stories with both romance and mystery. We have villains and swells and a highwayman (who isn’t a villain) and even a Bow Street Runner on special assignment. Pure escapism with laughs.

Review by

Stopping at a Toll-Gate late one night Captain John Staples is concerned to find that the fate is being manned by a young boy, whose father has disappeared. Determined not to leave the boy alone John decides to stay. When the boy's father still hasn't returned in the morning, he extends his stay, little knowing the adventures that working a Toll-Gate will bring, including falling in love with Nell, whose grandfather is about to die and leave her penniless and potentially at the mercy of her cousin and his 'up to knocker friend' Coate. An encounter with Coate provides one of the most hilarious moments in the book:‘The Captain was spared the necessity of answering this question by the sudden irruption into the tap of Mr Nathaniel Coate, who had ridden into Crowford from the Manor, and now stormed into the Blue Boar, demanding the landlord in his stentorian accents. His fancy had prompted him to sport a striped toilinette waistcoat under a coat of corbeau-cloth, and this combination, worn as it was, with breeches of Angola-cloth and hunting-boots with white tops, so powerfully affected the Captain that for a full minute he sat with his tankard half-way to his mouth, and his gaze riveted to the astonishing vision. He felt stunned, and looked quite as stupid as he would have liked.’Heyer plays with the genre as her characters fail to conform to expectations, Nell is not a typical ‘damsel in distress’, Chirk, the highwayman, isn’t romanticised in any way. What Heyer does do is set up an exciting adventure as John tries to get to the bottom of the Toll-Gate Keeper’s disappearance and help Nell.

Review by

This particular book is one of the slow reading ones of the regency tales. There is a mystery in the background but the denouement is what was expected. It was still enjoyable for all that.

Review by

I think this may be my favorite of the Georgette Heyer books I've read. The love story part is charming, but free of the misunderstandings that so often crop up in Heyer's romances; and there is enough mystery and action in the story to satisfy anyone. The date is approximately 1817; Jack Staple, the protagonist (well, let's just call him the hero, which he is), not interested in being in a peacetime army, has sold out his commission and is getting some pressure to marry from his mother and sister. Escaping his cousin the Earl's deadly-dull engagement party, he sets off across-country to visit a friend. Becoming lost, he encounters a toll-gate guarded, most unusually, by a young boy. He ends up staying the night, after young Ben tells him that his father, the gate-keeper, has been unaccountably absent for a few days. That might have been the end, had he not encountered Miss Nell Stornaway, granddaughter of the local Squire, on her way to church, and fallen in love. The combination of love, mystery and adventure is too much for Jack to resist, and (taking Nell into his confidence) he pretends to be the gate-keeper's cousin and takes over the duties, masquerading as an ex-trooper of a much lower social status. There is plenty of excitement and interesting characters, as well as a setting in the wilds of Derbyshire. Highly recommended.

Review by

I really loved this one. My mother, who I introduced to Heyer a few years ago, read it before me and recommended it, commenting that it was interesting to see things through a man's pov. I agree with her. I've read several Heyers told through the hero's pov, but this one was very refreshing, because it doesn't deal with any of the matters of the ton, like usual. I think that John is now my favorite hero of Heyer's, with his matter of fact way of fixing things and his devil for mischief.

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