Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester (new edition) – A Review

During her prolific fifty-three year writing career, British author Georgette Heyer (1902-1974) wrote fifty-six historical fiction, Regency romance and detective fiction novels. She was a pioneer in Regency romance, and is generally attributed by many for establishing the sub-genre that is flourishing today. Stylish, witty and historically accurate, her humorous plots and memorable characters continue to be the benchmark for new Regency romance writers today.

In her lifetime Heyer publisher twenty-six Regency-era novels, many of which are again available in new editions by Sourcebooks and Harlequin Books. Renowned for her historical detail, to read a Heyer Regency romance is to be truly entrenched in the bon ton lifestyle in England from 1811 to 1820. Even though readers can enjoy her novels without understanding the entire historical context or nuanced meanings behind social customs and colloquialisms of the time, it is even more entertaining if you do. Georgette Heyer’s Regency World: The definitive guide for all fans of Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, and the glittering Regency period, by Jennifer Kloester offers an incredible resource for historical fiction enthusiasts and Regency-era novelists.

Readers will find detailed cultural information on the society and customs of the early nineteenth-century aristocrats and gentry that populate Heyer’s drawing room comedies. Learn the importance of social strata and the right connections, where to live in Town and the country, how to dress, eat and conduct yourself properly in polite society, where to shop for a fashionable frock, what type of carriage to tool down St. James Street in, which pleasure haunts to frequent in London, and, most importantly, who to be seen with and who to avoid socially. Also included are appendixes on de rigueur Regency era cant and common phrases that Heyer’s characters frequently use, a very helpful historical time-line and other pertinent information on the English Regency period and its colorful characters.

What elevates this book beyond a collection of historical facts is its organization and that the author places many of Heyer’s novels and characters in context to the categories and descriptions within the text. For example, Hero the young and naïve bride in Friday’s Child soon learns the importance of proper language when she asks her husband Lord Sheringham about his ‘opera dancer’ and is quickly’ put right’ on the ways of the world by a brotherly friend. Unbeknownst to Hero who had received a negligent upbringing, young ladies vocabulary was strictly regulated and a slip such as asking her husband about his mistress could ruin her reputation if the conversation had been overheard outside the family. If you do not know what an ‘opera dancer’ is, or their reputation for becoming the mistresses of the bon ton, then you missed an important aspect of Hero’s personality and Lord Sheringham’s position in society. The book is full of similarly helpful insights and I found myself learning more about Regency culture and developing a greater appreciation for Georgette Heyer’s skill as an historian and writer as the book progressed. What a treasure!

Originally published in the United Kingdom in 2005 by William Heinemann, this new edition is being re-issued on August 1st, 2010 by Sourcebooks and available in North America for the first time. Gentle Readers, since Sourcebooks is publishing it, we know it is ‘bang up to the mark’ and the definitive guide to all things in Heyer’s world.

4 out 5 Regency Stars

Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester
Sourcebooks (2010)
Trade paperback (400) pages
ISBN: 978-1402241369

‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’: Day 01 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one of five copies available of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about reading a Heyer novel or who your favorite hero or heroine is by midnight Pacific time, Monday, September 6th, 2010. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010. Shipment to continental US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming posts

Day 02    Aug 02 – Review: The Black Moth
Day 02    Aug 02 – Review: Powder and Patch
Day 03    Aug 04 – Review: These Old Shades
Day 03    Aug 04 – Review: The Masqueraders

Celebrating Georgette Heyer   •   August 1st – 31st, 2010

41 thoughts on “Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester (new edition) – A Review

  1. I’m intrigued because I’ve never read her, and so many people enjoy her books. And any writer who has ‘definitive guides’ written about her books is usually my cup of tea…I’m looking at the Angela Thirkell guide on my shelf as I write this. I’m also reading and re-reading Jane Austen, and this will be a chance to learn more about the Regency period. And (last but not least) I read an article that talked about some of the books being funny…and a funny Regency romance sounds like a perfect summer read. Thank you for putting this together!

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  2. I have not yet read any work by Georgette Heyer, but am very glad for this event. I thoroughly enjoy and love regency novels and the Austen period. I look forward to participating and reading Heyer’s novels.

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  3. Well, at this point, I’ve still only read one book, though I’m always trying to work on changing that. LOL The book I read was The Grand Sophy. . . and I have to admit, reading it, I did keep looking at the copyright date because Sophy just didn’t seem like a heroine I would read in a book written back in the 1950s, but a historical from today. Maybe I’m a bit naive since I simply have read more books from the 90s-00s, but still, was pleasantly surprised. :)

    Lois

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  4. This sounds like a fascinating book. I never read anything by Georgette Heyer, but she sounds like an intriguing author.

    Amy S.
    artsyrockerchick at aim dot com

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  5. I am intrigued because I have just recently learned about Georgette Heyer. I have not read any of her books yet but I hoping that this event will change that. Arabella is next on my to read list and I’m sure I will add more of her books as the celebration continues.

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  6. I’ve also just started reading Georgette Heyer recently and from those that I have read so far, Sylvester, Duke of Salford, and Phoebe Marlow are still my ‘top of the trees’ couple. =) They are such an unlikely couple at the start that their journey is such a delightful read. As the scrapes that Phoebe stumbles into snowballs, the ‘villainous’ Sylvester becomes her reluctant and unexpected hero. =) The cast of characters surrounding them are also laugh-out-loud funny and the device of a ‘novel within a novel’ to cast a wink at those obsessed with high flying romantic genres is a testament to Heyer’s deft hand.

    A close second is Max Ravenscar and Deborah Grantham of Faro’s Daughter. =)

    Please enter me for this one. Will provide a US address. =)

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  7. I now have to go back and reread all of the Heyer books so I’ll “get” the details. What a great reason to reread the books I love! Like I need an excuse!

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  8. I’ve only read four Georgette Heyer novels so far, but I’m already having trouble picking a favorite because I’ve enjoyed them all so much! I keep thinking that the next one I read can’t possibly be as good as the previous ones, but I’m usually wrong. I think I’d say that Annis Wychwood from “Lady of Quality” is my favorite heroine so far. I love the idea of a “spinster” setting up her own household in Bath and doing what she wants to do.

    One of the things I love about reading Heyer’s books is casting the characters in my mind. For “Lady of Quality” I chose Keeley Hawes (“Wives and Daughters,” “Ashes to Ashes”) as Annis and Ben Miles (“Coupling,” “The Forsyte Saga”) as Oliver Carleton. I’d love to see these books adapted for TV!

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  9. What intrigues me most about reading a Heyer novel is how she both embraces and completely ignores Regency “conventions” with her characters and the denouement of the plot- perfect examples of this include “Venetia” and “The Grand Sophy”

    In that vein, my favourite hero has to be Jasper (Lord Damerel) because, let’s face it, he’s the rake who reforms just enough and my favourite heroine is Sophy, partially because she is so eccentric and so expertly manoeuvres everyone around her, but mostly because she reminds me a lot of Emma!

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  10. Yeah I love her! I’ve been saving a Border’s Gift Card for this book. My top three favorite Heyer novels are Venetia, Frederica and Black Sheep. I think her novels would make great movies/mini series. They’re so descriptive and full of fun!

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    • BORDERS! Ouch. My eyes are burning.

      Just kidding with you QNPoohBear. I work for B&N and love to tease my family and friends when they buy books elsewhere.

      I am so pleased that you are purchasing three of my top ten Heyer novels. Enjoy!

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      • Sorry. B&N is nicer and bigger, but it isn’t close by or on the bus line. Borders is conveniently located right downtown in the mall. I’m glad to read favorable reviews of the book. I have What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist-The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England by Daniel Pool but the focus is on the Victorian era not Regency.

        I recently found Venetia at a thrift shop for less than a dollar. It’s a recent paperback version and in great condition. I can’t wait to read it again and again!

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  11. I’ve been reading and rereading Georgette Heyer since I discovered her in the 70s. I have yet to find another writer of regencies to match her–she is a true non-pareil. My favorite has to be Cotillion, for the way it turns the alpha male stereotype on its head, but I adore the big men too–The Toll-Gate, The Unknown Ajax, and Anthony in The Masqueraders. I have an A tier, a B tier, and a very small C tier. She never writes the same novel twice–well, twice she pretty much did, but other than that she takes the basic pattern and then twists one part out of true and runs with the story that makes. So many favorites! But I have never had a chance to read Kloester’s book although I have heard of it, and would love to do so.

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  12. I’m intrigued because I’ve never read any of her books — never even heard of her until about a year ago. In the past year, I have seen SO MANY reviews of Heyer works … My library didn’t have them, but I stumbled across one at a used book sale and pounced on it — haven’t read it yet, but it’s close to the top of my To-Read list :) I’m excited to dig in and get a sense of this author who so many link up to my beloved Jane Austen :)

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  13. I’ve read several of Heyer’s Regencies, but I would love to read a copy of this novel and have GH’s work given greater historical context. Thanks for the opportunity!

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  14. I’ve read about 10 Heyer novels, inc. a couple of the “true” historicals. I’ve loved them all – Grand Sophy is a favorite. But I could really use this reference-type book to understand some of the special vocabulary and phrases. Just put Regency World on my wish list. Thanks so much for this month of Georgette!

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  15. Kloester’s book sounds like a fantastic resource for every Regency romance fan. Thanks for the review!

    What I love about Heyer is her characters and how fun — and yet poignant — they can be. They read like real people!

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  16. Georgette Heyer is one of those authors that I’ve always heard about but due to her works being out of print for so long,didn’t get the chance to try when I was younger.

    The problem now is actually choosing which one of them to start with-I did give An Infamous Army a whirl(and enjoyed what I did read very much)but wound up setting it aside for other books that grabbed my attention. Fortunately,this salute to GH came in time to give me an excuse to try again:)

    Please put my name in the bonnet for the Regency World guide-I love reading books about this era that help you connect directly to an author’s writing. It really clears up a lot of details that you try to define within the context of the story there(it wasn’t until I read Jane Austen and Food,for example,that I understood why Fanny Price’s milk was blue!).

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  17. It’s probably the language that intrigues me most in Heyer novels. I find it fascinating how much of it has become almost totally incomprehensible. You don’t notice it so much in Jane Austen, because she doesn’t use so much slang, but it’s very apparent in Heyer’s novels. It’s pretty impressive to think about how much she must have read and absorbed to be able to use all that language so fluently. This book sounds really useful.

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  18. I have a copy of Georgette Heyer’s Regency England by Teresa Chris. Have you read it? If so, I’m wondering if you would mind giving me a brief idea of how it compares with this book.

    I think I enjoy Heyer best when she writes about dogs. They don’t appear in every novel, including my favorites, but when they do they shine, like Bouncer in The Reluctant Widow.

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  19. I’m intrigued because I’ve fallen for all things Regency and love to learn more about this time period. I can’t get enough! And I love a good romance and a good mystery. :) Reading your review of GH’s Recency World intrigues me even more as I am curious about the language that was used and the details to time period that Heyer seems to have incorporated into her books. I’m embarrassed to say how long The Grand Sophy has sat on my ‘to read’ pile. I’ve got to dig it out now!

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  20. I have read several reviews of this book and they all had great things to say about it. An annotated version of her novels would be good, but since that doesn’t seem to be in the works. This book sounds like it might just be the perfect solution to explaining much in the books as far as cultural and social information is concerned. I don’t know if it will cover much as far as the historical content is concerned, but that information should be easy to find elsewhere.

    This sounds like a must have book for anyone who reads Regency romance, not just Heyer’s books. I know I for one can’t wait to read it.

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  21. Pingback: Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for August 2010 « Austenprose

  22. This book looks great! I’d love to read this. I’ve read many Georgette Heyer novels over the past two years, so it would be tricky to name my favorite hero/heroine. (Since I have the habit of changing favorites every time I read a new book!) But I LOVED Damerel in Venetia!!!

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    • Becky, me too!I fell in love with Damarel myself. I love Ventia and Damarel as a couple. The dialogue between them makes me laugh. I also fell in love with Sir Waldo in The Nonesuch. The Marquis of Alverstoke in Frederica is really great too, oh and Miles from Black Sheep, though he’s older.

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  23. Here’s something exciting to look forward to: Jen Kloester has a bio on Heyer coming out next year! Yay! It will be available first in the UK and Australia, then later in the year it will be available stateside. I’ve already got it on my wish list!

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  24. I’m a bit late to the party, but I’m starting at the beginning of the Heyer posts so as not to miss a nugget!

    I enjoy Heyer primarily for the language–the slang her ton characters use is so fun to read, and the general enthusiasm with which her characters attack their lives gives such energy to the stories. Heyer novels are escapism, pure and simple–they’re refreshing, consoling, comfort food for the soul that is world-weary.

    Thanks so much for putting on this month-long love fest. It’s a real treat.

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  25. ah, the so many reasons I read Georgette Heyer…like JaneGS, the language is always a draw for me–how is she going to throw in the slang in this book? And then she’s always got a happy ending (which is a must for me), it’s often laugh-out-loud funny, and so enjoyable!

    Looking forwards to every day this month!

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  26. I have just started reading Heyer this year and look forward to reading other people’s reviews of her works. I think my favourite so far is Frederica.

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  27. For me… I enjoy her sense of humor! Like Jane, Georgette has that subtle style to weave something within the passage that makes me smile because I understand those little ‘hints’.

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  28. This book has been published in the UK. I ordered it via http://www.amazon.co.uk and it has a different cover. I devoured it. I highly recommend it and now want to reread it. There is also a biography of GH that I ordered from the same source. When I ran out of sources for anything Regency in the US, I discovered the UK amazon and started ordering there.

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  29. Pingback: ‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’ at Austenprose – August 1st – 31st, 2010 « Austenprose

  30. Georgette Heyer has many strengths, but what I find really compelling in her novels are her characters and her witty dialogue. It’s impossible to limit myself to just one favorite book or couple, but Venetia is the first one I read where I immediately reread it after finishing it the first time through. It’s such a wonderful book!

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  31. I love Georgette Heyer’s novels for many reasons, but I think my favorite reason is her quick wit. Heyer’s novels often make me laugh out loud. I love her well rounded and often quirky characters, and I especially love the regency setting of her novels.

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  32. Have just finished re-reading “Venetia” : surely the most perfect little romance ever written : funny, adorable and moving with a comedic, plonking Mr. Collins-type thrown in for good measure as well as a nasty female territorial interloper who eyes off the Lanyon estate consideringly: some very amusing scenes. And then there is the meeting of minds and hearts between Venetia and Damerel. Ah Damerel. Give me a man who can cite poetry for his own rakish motives but has perfect breeding and manners, charm and humour (despite a chequered past). Oh and who kisses passionately and hungrily! I have never yet read a more faultless depiction of true love and the meeting of one’s soul mate. Everyone to whom I have given this book, have sighed over it. And when I have bought it, the girls behind the counter, have done the same. Magical!

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  33. Elinor Rochdale from The Reluctant Widow is my favorite heroine. I just started reading this book for a second time. I love the mix of mystery and romance in this Heyer novel.

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  34. I just bought this book and am in the middle of reading it. It is very interesting. I was also surprised at how much I already knew from reading (and rereading….) Heyer’s novels.

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  35. I so want to read this book. It sounds easier to read than some. I started a book on Regency history and haven’t been able to complete it. However, on the other hand there are really easy books like “Jane Austen for Dummies” in the popular yellow and black book Dummy section. It is very simple by comparison but for those that just can’t do more of a reference work it is fun (for the basics). I especially enjoy the section on dance and why it was so important and how men learned to dance.

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