Pitching woo
March 12, 2007 1:32 AM   Subscribe

Georgette Heyer is my favourite novelist - she writes what have been classified as 'historical romances' by the fodder market that inspired this post but is in fact an observant writer of social mores and customs on par with any of the Austens. Her drawing room farces, her subtle humour and the amusing pranks that the characters play or the 'scrapes' that they get into, all the while ending up in love - never talked about directly but always indirectly implied, as per the customs of the late 18th century whence her novels are set, make her one of the most outstanding authors [yet sadly misclassified] of the past century. Don't miss Devil's Cub or These Old Shades...
posted by infini (17 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Oh gosh, I love Georgette Heyer! I'm a sucker generally for any Regency novels but her fluffy frivolity has always seemed perfect for when I'm feeling a bit off and can't concentrate on Ms Austen. "Powder & Patch" is my favourite.
posted by ninazer0 at 3:42 AM on March 12, 2007

"Any of the Austens"?

Would that there were more than one...
posted by jokeefe at 7:16 AM on March 12, 2007

Thank you infini. Georgette Heyer deserves to be better known!
posted by halonine at 8:15 AM on March 12, 2007

Thanks, infini. I'm another Heyer fan from way back. I have mostly read the fluff like Charity Girl but her more serious historical books like Royal Escape are really incredibly well-written.
posted by padraigin at 8:48 AM on March 12, 2007

More than half of my favorite Heyer titles are people's names: 'Frederica', 'Venetia', 'Sylvester', 'Arabella', 'The Grand Sophy'; the rest (I go down the list just for the pleasure of it) are 'Cotillion', 'The Nonesuch', 'The Talisman Ring', and 'Faro's Daughter'.

Chivers Audio Books has many Heyer audiobooks, rendered to Regency perfection by veteran narators like Eve Matheson and Clifford Norgate. Too bad they are hard to find in CD format, let alone in mp3.
posted by of strange foe at 8:56 AM on March 12, 2007

"one of the most outstanding authors of the past century"?

ummm...I don't know how to break this to you but...
posted by the sobsister at 9:01 AM on March 12, 2007

What a fortuitous coincidence! I happen to be reading The Unknown Ajax and am enjoying it immensely. The slang and insults are very entertaining ("miserable squeeze-crabs" and "knaggy old gagers" for example).
posted by mogget at 9:54 AM on March 12, 2007

Heyer is an absolutely wonderful author who blends comedy and romance, drama and mystery, and historical accuracy all in the most skilled, wonderful, enthralling and talented manner. The Grand Sophy is my absolute fave.
posted by bunnycup at 9:56 AM on March 12, 2007

Is is just that the Heyer Haters are staying out of this? Because honestly I outgrew her little romances when I was 14. Love the Regancy, hate the formula.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:22 PM on March 12, 2007

I started reading Heyer about six months ago - I'd always thought she was for fourteen year-olds, and having missed her at that point (I think I did read Cousin Kate, which according to her biographer is not typical and somewhat unpleasant) I was an uninformed sneerer. Now I'm that dull kind of convert that keeps recommending her to people. She writes well, the relationships she describes are not unrealistic (for instance, the men who marry for money and then gradually fall in love) and she's so good at farce (the endings of some, like The Unknown Ajax and The Grand Sophy are just amazing). Hodge (biographer) says "laughter is never far away and cheerfulness keeps breaking in" (not an exact quote). There are echoes of Austen - sometimes even a direct lift of a phrase - which are fun to spot. What one has to try not to do, at least when actually reading, is start thinking about some of the realities of Regency life - syphilis, death in childbirth, dirt, inequality ... I don't know anything about modern Regency romances in general, but assume that there's not much out there that measures up to Heyer. - I've also not read her crime fiction, which on a brief glance looked rather full of clunkers, but I hope I'm wrong about this.
posted by paduasoy at 4:22 PM on March 12, 2007

Oh, and thank you for the post.
posted by paduasoy at 4:33 PM on March 12, 2007

disclaimer: factual errors such as the number of Austens, Heyer's standing as a author et al are all mine. I was writing with love about Heyer at the time, not worrying about facts, oopsie.

What fun that there are so many others who read and enjoy her. Thank you! I brought the Grand Sophy with me when I moved to the US as a "comfort reading" book, no regrets

paduasoy: Thank you for your lovely comment. I've read a lot of her crime fiction in school, I attended a british prep school for expats in Malaysia in the 70s and our library was mostly donations from families so full of this kind of stuff. Envious Casca, Blunt Instrument are some that stand out in memory, again, there's a snarky undercurrent of relationships going on all through the detective work. On par with PD James and Adam [sigh] Dalgliesh rather than Agatha Christie and Miss Marple style of english detective fiction.

If metaswap ever takes off, I'd love to start a Heyer sharing list, I just bought three off the internet last night after posting!
posted by infini at 4:42 PM on March 12, 2007

I love Georgette Heyer, but to be completely honest, they are historical romances. The thing is that they are good historical romances.
posted by kjs4 at 4:53 PM on March 12, 2007

I think I have a couple of spares, infini - I'll have a look and email you. They do tend to get handed around so may be a bit tatty. Thanks for the two mystery recommendations - I'll give them a go, though sounds like they may be a bit dark for me (I am a wuss).
posted by paduasoy at 4:53 PM on March 12, 2007

Ah Georgette Heyer, long time guilty pleasure. It's established wisdom (amongst the female members of my family) that a good lay in and one of her novels is the only possible remedy for a cold.

Definite comfort reading, infini.
posted by arha at 5:34 PM on March 12, 2007

thank you paduasoy, I've a few 'doubles' since I bought them again here in the US once I started missing my collection left behind in mom's attic. I can send those to you. Let me also collate which ones I have and email you, so we can see what we have already!

You're right Cousin kate is a nightmare, only bought becuase it was a Heyer.
posted by infini at 6:45 PM on March 12, 2007

Another prolific British author of light social comedies is Angela Thirkell. Delicately observed, and keenly expressed, her books are like the froth on a rootbeer float.
posted by ohshenandoah at 9:35 PM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

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