Friday, June 13, 2008

Guest Post by Jane - Growing Up with Georgette Heyer

Today's guest post was written by Jane from The Colour Jane. Thanks Jane for contributing to our Season!

When I was a pre teen, we were not called that. We were? um growing children? We were thrilled to be in double digits. We were not sophisticated; we had an innocence, and perhaps even a naivety about us; yet we were eager to reach the mystical 13.

As I reached a dozen plus one years, my mother announced I was beyond children’s books and introduced me to the world of Georgette Heyer.

The first book she put into my hands was ‘These Old Shades’.(I still have no idea what the title means, in spite of quite some research …anyone care to enlighten me?

Enchanted, and intrigued from the very first, I soon fell for the Duke Avon with all the passion my young heart could muster. Indeed, this tendre* long lingered within me...

Although known by friends, and enemies alike as ‘Satanas’, I knew Justin Alastair to have the good heart he soon revealed. Was he acting on a mere whim when he bought a beaten bedraggled boy to be his page? Or did he instantly see in the red haired child a means of revenge against his enemy the Comte de Saint-Vire?

I remember being drawn deep into the story, wonder struck at the world of Paris in the 1700s and the delightful antics of the child Leon, as he interacted with his benefactorMonseigneur; all under the benign, balanced and watchful eyes of Hugh Davenant.

Soon our family went on a summer holiday to a beach in the north of New Zealand. I was not interested in the view, or the swimming, or the local culture, or anything really, other then the fact that the local general store sold copies of Georgette Heyer paperbacks. They had pink covers, showing an oval frame which contained paintings of the main characters. I read, and begged for ‘another book, just 'one more’ all summer. Thus before I was 14 I had read pretty much all works of this quintessential English woman.

A couple of years ago, whilst laid up with pneumonia, I re read all the stories. I found again, but appreciated so much more, quality research; fine skill in the manner in which the characters were drawn, and wit in the dialogue.

Certainly the stories and characters do not fit in our contemporary world; they jar against so called modern thought. However, the delightful Georgette Heyer touch has not faded. Back in my early teens my parents presented me with a copy of ‘My Lord John’. This is the unfinished book; about half of what Georgette Heyer had planned as a serious mediaeval work - possibly trilogy. Her husband did his best to finish, or at least round it off.

I recommend as a wonderful site to visit: get to know the woman and her work even better. More than anything, I recommend her books, to all with romantic hearts, no matter what age.

*The French turned the word tendre meaning ‘tender’, into a noun -- meaning ‘the tender feelings’. They drew a map of the feelings, la carte de tendre. A beautiful country of the emotions, where you could start at ‘new friendship’ and travel through gentle pastures to the ‘tenderness of gratitude’, the ‘tenderness of affection

1 comment:

  1. These Old Shades. Shades are ghosts. The Duke of Avon gathers up a street urchin Leon/Leonie, the child of his arch enemy. He uses the girl to exact revenge against that enemy - dealing the ghosts/shades of the past: old shades.