Georgette Heyer and Me

Georgette Heyer

I am still in the midst of a rereading binge. I have (probably temporarily) moved on from Mary Stewart and currently I am deeply committed to Georgette Heyer.

I remember the first time I read a Georgette Heyer novel.  It was Friday's Child.  I came across it in the library, checked it out, and loved it.  I kind of smuggled into the house, I was about twelve, because my mom deeply disapproved of romance novels.  She had no problem with me wandering through the adult section of the library and trying Shakespeare and Dickens and Austen but romance novels were not really acceptable.  My grandmother used to get Good Housekeeping magazine.  Is that even around anymore?  Anyway, in the back there was always a condensed novel, usually a romance.  My grandmother used to save the magazines for me.  I loved the short stories and condensed novels, my mother didn't.  I can see her point now that I have a ten-year-old.  She probably thought there were better things for me to be reading than sappy romances in a woman's magazine. She was probably right but that didn't stop me from reading them. When I found Georgette Heyer in the library I thought my mom would react to her the same way she reacted to those sappy romance stories.  Hence the sneaking her into the house.  I managed to work my way through quite a few of her novels before my mom came across her at the library, tried her for herself, and loved the books as much as I did.  As a kid I couldn't really see why she loved these books when she hated the other romances but I can see her point now.  These are witty and charming and well-researched and well-written.  They are not your run-of -the-mill romance novels.  Though I must admit they were a gateway drug to a lot of poorly written Regency romances in my teenage years.  I don't read any and all Regency romances anymore, my taste obviously changed as I grew up, but I still have a deep and abiding love for Georgette Heyer.

Currently I am reading These Old Shades.  It isn't really one of my favorites but that means I have read it less often and therefore I can't recite the plot point by point.  I think I am going to have to order a copy of Devil's Cub.  It is one of the only Heyers that I don't own and it is connected to this book so obviously I want to read that too.  Any excuse to buy more books.

You might possibly be wondering which are my favorite Heyers.  Well, so am I. I went over to the bookshelf and started pulling off ones I particularly liked and ended up surrounded by books.  I am just going to pick three that are appealing to me today.

A Civil Contract does not seem to be universally beloved, probably because it is not a typical Heyer love story.  Adam Deveril needs to marry money in order to take care of his family.  He gives up the woman he loves in order to marry plain, prosaic, Jenny.  She brings money to the marriage, he brings social position.  It does end up being a love story, but it is a quiet love instead of a Regency romance type love.  I always enjoy it and Jenny's father makes me laugh out loud.

Cotillion is the story of Kitty Charing.  She will inherit a large fortune if she marries one of her guardian's nephews.  She is beset by willing and unwilling suitors and finally concocts a fake engagement in order to make the object of her affections jealous.  Chaos, drama, and true love ensue.

In The Foundling the Duke of Sale is tired of having every moment of his life and every decision that comes his way overseen by his loving but over-protective uncle.  He finally rebels and decides to vanish from his life and his responsibilities just for a little while with predictably chaotic results.  He runs into blackmailers, kidnappers, a beautiful but silly girl, and yes, of course, true love.  On the way, he discovers just how much he is capable of.

I am having trouble resisting the urge to mention all my favorites.  What about The Unknown Ajax or False Colours or Black Sheep?  I have a sentimental attachment to all of Heyer's novels.  In fact, I went on Goodreads out of curiosity because I wanted to see which of her novels were the most popular.  I ended up getting annoyed with the reviews by people who didn't love any and all of Georgette Heyer's novels.  Slightly unreasonable?  Maybe, but that is just the way it is.

Reading this over I realize that a description of Georgette Heyer's novels does not do them justice.  They have been imitated to such a degree that they sound like clones of themselves. They are not just sappy romance novels.  If you haven't read them, do so now and thank me later.

Meanwhile, I will be sitting on my couch surrounded by piles of Georgette Heyer books, spending a happy evening dipping in and out of my favorite bits.

6 comments

  1. My first Heyer was April Lady, discovered on the bottom shelf in a house where we were staying in England, when I was 15. I was immediately hooked - I thought the ending was the most romantic thing I had ever read. But when we got back to the US, I hardly ever came across Heyer's books. I think our library had some of the historical novels (My Lord John, Simon the Coldheart) - which did not appeal to me. It was only when I visited the UK after college that I could collect her books myself - and now of course they are easy to find.

    I think A Civil Contract is an amazing book, though I didn't appreciate it as much when I was younger as I do now. Cotillion is one of my top favorites (I adore Freddy and his father), with The Talisman Ring, The Quiet Gentleman and Unknown Ajax. I am not as fond of the Alastairs as I used to be - I find Dominic rather tiresome!

    I am home today, indisposed with a minor complaint, and you're tempting me to pull out some old favorites :) Happy reading!

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    1. The library when I was a teenager had an entire shelf of Heyer's books. I checked them out over and over again. So many books that I loved when I was younger are hard to find now. I wish I had known to buy them at the time.... At least some, like Georgette Heyer's novels, are being reprinted.

      Unknown Ajax is another of my favorites. I agree about the Alastairs. I enjoyed reading These Old Shades but it isn't one I feel compelled to reread very often. I find Leonie irritating.

      I hope you are feeling better, but at least you are at home surrounded by old favorites!

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  2. My Granny was a huge Heyer fan and I am now kicking myself for not taking her books when the house was cleared when Granny died. I hadn't read anything by Heyer then but now I know what I missed. I love her wit and all of the Georgian slang and details she puts into the books. I still have a lot to track down and read though.

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    1. There are books I regret not buying or keeping too. At least Heyer's books are easier to get hold of lately. I agreee, I appreciate how detailed they are. They aren't deep books but they are well-researched and that makes them interesting. The wittiness is a huge plus too! I hope you enjoy continuing with your discovery of Georgette Heyer. It makes me happy to hear about how other people enjoy her books.

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  3. Why hello! My new job has been keeping me very busy but I still love it so no harm done. I've less time to comment on your lovely blog though despite regularly checking and reading new posts.

    So glad you really like Cotillion. I haven't read any Heyer but I have both Cotillion and Devil's Cub ready on my shelf. I'm in the mood for some positive, happy reads lately...

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    1. It is nice to hear from you again! I am glad your new job is still going well.

      Cotillion is the perfect read if you are looking for something positive and happy. It is light and witty and charming and fun. I hope you enjoy it.

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