Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Guest Post by Sassymonkey - Discovering Georgette Heyer

Today's guest post is by Sassymonkey, who blogs about books at Sassymonkey Reads, and also at Blogher. Thanks Sassymonkey!

It was a chilly and rainy Sunday afternoon. My boyfriend was out running errands and going to church. I wandered around the new apartment determined to ignore the boxes waiting to be unpacked. It was reading time. I wanted to read something fun. Something light. Something that I knew would end well and make me laugh. I scanned the bookshelves (because of course the books are all unpacked). My eyes gravitated to the top row of the first bookcase. "Perfect," I said. I took down a book, made a pot of tea and retreated to my new sun-room with a blanket, a thick pair of socks and the cat. It was time to get lost in a Regency romance with Georgette Heyer.

About a year ago a friend asked me if I had read any of Georgette Heyer's novels. I told her that I hadn't but that I was vaguely familiar with them having seen one of two mentioned on book blogs. A few months later when I moved into a new apartment (yeah, yeah I move a lot) she send me a small selection of them as a house-warming gift. The very first one I read, my friend's favourite, was The Grand Sophy. I loved it. It was witty, had a strong-willed female protagonist and the main male character was no slouch either. It reminded me of Jane Austen but wasn't quite so serious as Austen. And unlike Austen it gave us a glimpse into the frequently amusing (at least as Heyer writes it) male mind and world.

I had some concerns because my friend said The Grand Sophy was her favourite. Would the others be as good? I picked up another one of the selections she sent me flew through it. And then another. And then I went online and ordered five more. It was official - I was nutty for Heyer. The best part about reading Heyer novels is that I know there are lots of them and that some selection of them is frequently available in libraries. And after years of being out of print they are being reissued so they are available with online booksellers and frequently at my local brick and mortar. The bad part is that I know there is a finite amount of Heyer's out there and while the existing ones will continue to be new to me, there will never be another brand spanking new Heyer.

After I started reading Heyer I started to see her pop up more frequently on book blogs thanks to those reissues I mentioned above. Fans of Jane Austen seem to particularly love Heyer's work. Vic at Jane Austen's World recently reviewed her Lady of Quality and discussed what lured her into Heyer's world.

I reveled in Georgette’s world filled with bored aristocratic gentlemen who, usually as they traveled by coach or horse to a country inn or walked the streets in London in the middle of the night, stumbled across an innocent and disarming chit who needed rescuing. This plot device was a popular one with the author. Another one of Georgette’s plots was that of the “older” beautiful, rich, and independent spinster (almost on the shelf, but not quite) who is determined to live her life as she likes it, and skirt convention when she can. Because she has independent means, she rules her roost and will brook no interference from any man.

It is true that many of Georgette Heyer's novels follow similar paths. The women and men are witty. There are daft/interfering/judgmental family members. Women often need "saving" although they also sometimes turn around and save the men. There may be a military plotline (after all, we are in the age of Napoleon here). For some the repetitiveness is part of the Heyer charm. Others, like Kim, would like to see a bit more variety. She reviewed Black Sheep at Good, Clean Reads and deducted a quarter star because it was too similar to the last Heyer she read.

Thanks to Heyer having been a prolific and popular writer in the twentieth century most libraries carry at least one Heyer book.

There are also books written about Georgette Heyer and her Regency world. One of the most recent books is by Jennifer Kloester, Georgette Heyer's Regency World. The Historical Romance UK blog snagged Ms. Kloester as a guest blogger of the month awhile back.

Now you must excuse me, I have a half finished Heyer novel calling my name.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I just got here through technorati. I appreciate your reference to my review. I agree that Heyer was a very good writer and although I've only read two of her books so far, I plan to read many more. Great post.