Venetia (The Folio Society Edition), by Georgette Heyer — A Review

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

I will state unequivocally that Venetia is my favorite novel by author Georgette Heyer (1902-1974). That is quite an accolade considering the depth of her oeuvre including 26 Regency, 8 Georgian, 6 historical fiction, 4 contemporary, and 12 detective fiction novels. That’s 56 in total, and in my book, Venetia tops them all.

Ergo, it was no surprise to me that The Folio Society selected Venetia as their first Georgette Heyer book to trot out and showcase with their exquisite selection of beautifully bound and illustrated collector’s Continue reading “Venetia (The Folio Society Edition), by Georgette Heyer — A Review”

An Exclusive Q&A with Jennifer Kloester, Georgette Heyer’s Biographer

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

My regular readers and friends will remember how much I admire and enjoy reading the Queen of Regency Romance, Georgette Heyer. We reviewed all her historical novels during a month-long celebration here on Austenprose in 2011.

While I continue to work through the long list of her books, there are scholars who have read them all and studied her life and work. The first among them is Dr. Jennifer Kloester. Austenprose reviewed her Georgette Heyer: A Biography of a Bestseller when it released in 2011 and have followed her career ever Continue reading “An Exclusive Q&A with Jennifer Kloester, Georgette Heyer’s Biographer”

Pistols for Two, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Pistols for Two, by Georgette Heyer (2012)From the desk of Laura A. Wallace: 

Pistols for Two is a collection of eleven short stories first published in 1960.  Throughout her writing career, Heyer published her novels in serial form in various periodicals and published short stories in them as well.  This is the only collection published as a book; otherwise, her short stories exist only in old copies of the various magazines.  In researching her biography of Heyer, Jennifer Kloester tracked down bibliographic information on as many stories as she could find, and lists them in an appendix, but she states that there are probably more still undiscovered.  This corrects a general and long-held impression that Heyer only wrote a few short stories, and that nearly all of them were included in Pistols for Two.  But Heyer did choose the stories in this collection herself, so she must have considered them among her best. Continue reading “Pistols for Two, by Georgette Heyer – A Review”

April Lady, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

April Lady, by Georgette Heyer (2012)Guest Review by Laura A. Wallace

Georgette Heyer’s April Lady is the last re-issue by Sourcebooks of Heyer’s novels.  (The very last is Pistols for Two, a collection of short stories.)  Originally published in 1957, it is comfortably set within the Regency period that she had made her own.  The setting is London, and the plot involves money, love, misunderstanding, gambling, debt, and, ultimately, a famous heirloom, the Cardross necklace.

Lady Helen Irvine, the daughter of an improvident peer who has wasted most of his patrimony through addiction to gambling and high living, has been fortunate enough to marry the Earl of Cardross, an extremely wealthy nobleman some dozen years older than she is.  A very dutiful daughter, she had previously faced the unappetizing prospect of being married off to a wealthy city merchant in order to repair the family fortunes, but the unexpected offer from Lord Cardross saved her from this fate. Continue reading “April Lady, by Georgette Heyer – A Review”

Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer (2011)Guest review by Laura A. Wallace: 

Georgette Heyer’s Sprig Muslin is one of her most entertaining Regency novels.  It is a “road book,” full of adventures, comical situations, and fun characters.

At the outset, I must beg anyone who leaves a comment to avoid spoilers.  New readers should have the pleasure of discovering Amanda’s antics, their consequences, and who feels what for whom, on their own.

Sir Gareth Ludlow is one of society’s best-loved bachelors.  We first meet him calling upon his sister, whose offspring consider his visit to be a high treat: Continue reading “Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer – A Review”

A Civil Contract, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

A Civil Contract, by Georgette Heyer (2011)Guest review by Laura A. Wallace

A Civil Contract is an atypical Georgette Heyer novel.  While the setting is firmly Regency, beginning at the time of the Battle of Orthez (February 1814) and ending with that of Waterloo (June 1815), it is neither lively nor witty.  It is a quiet book, with a love story that grows gradually, without any sparkle or adventure.  The eponymous contract is a marriage contract between an impoverished, newly-acceded peer and a wealthy “Cit” (Citizen of the City of London)’s daughter.  It is an inauspicious beginning:  the aristocrat is in love with someone else, the bride is homely, and the Cit is vulgar.

However, what follows is a sensitive, nuanced exploration of human relationships that from today’s perspective may seem almost quaint:  commitment, respect, duty, honor, fidelity, civility, resentment, and generosity.  I say “quaint” because the most cursory glance at current divorce and familial Continue reading “A Civil Contract, by Georgette Heyer – A Review”

Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller, by Jennifer Kloester – A Review

Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller, by Jennifer Koelster (2011)Guest review by Laura A. Wallace

I must acknowledge that it is well-nigh impossible for me to be objective when it comes to reviewing Jennifer Kloester’s new biography of Georgette Heyer which was released this month in the UK.  Rarely have I looked forward so much to reading a biography.  But be assured, gentle reader, that had I found it sub-standard, I would tell you so.  Instead, I am delighted to report that it met or exceeded almost all of my expectations.

This is a more traditional biography than Hodge’s, which discusses each work Heyer wrote in some detail, creating a dual focus on the events of Heyer’s life and her works, occasionally feeling as though the biographical material is merely a bridge until the next novel.  Kloester’s treatment of Heyer’s workplaces them firmly in the context of the events of her life, with emphasis most definitely on her life. Continue reading “Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller, by Jennifer Kloester – A Review”

The Toll-Gate, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

The Toll-Gate,  by Georgette Heyer (2011)Guest review by Laura A. Wallace:

Georgette Heyer’s novel The Toll Gate is a little different from her typical Regencies.  It is more of a mystery than a romance and is told primarily from the point of view of the hero.

The hero, Captain John Staple, shares several characteristics with Hugo Darracott of The Unknown Ajax.  Like Hugo, John is a former army officer who sold out after Napoleon’s defeat—though, in John’s case, he sold out after Leipzig, and when Napoleon escaped from Elba and began the Hundred Days, he rejoined and thus (like Hugo) was present at Waterloo.  Like Hugo, John is a large man, six-foot-four, with a gentle manner, a sense of humor, and a great deal of intelligence that he sometimes hides behind an intentionally bovine manner.  And like Hugo, John prefers to travel cross-country on horseback rather than in a chaise with a servant and piles of baggage. Continue reading “The Toll-Gate, by Georgette Heyer – A Review”

The Unknown Ajax, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

The Unknown Ajax, by Georgette Heyer (2011)From the desk of Laura A. Wallace: 

The Unknown Ajax is one of Georgette Heyer’s funniest Regencies.  It is populated with some of her more memorable characters and ends with a protracted scene reminiscent of comic opera, with a dozen people coming in and fading out in a seamless composition that builds to a climax as funny as a Heyer fan could wish for.  It might even be funnier than the ending scene in The Grand Sophy.

The setup for The Unknown Ajax is reminiscent of Downton Abbey—only the former came first, so it would be more proper to say that Downton Abbey is reminiscent of The Unknown Ajax.  The heir to a peerage and a large estate has drowned in a boating accident, along with his only son.  Everyone in the family thinks, therefore, the new heir is my lord’s youngest son, who has two grown sons of his own, but it turns out that this isn’t true.  Unbeknownst to anyone except the old lord himself, his second son, who had made a shocking misalliance with a ‘weaver’s daughter in Yorkshire, and been Continue reading “The Unknown Ajax, by Georgette Heyer – A Review”

Stephanie Barron Featured on NPR

Statue of King George III in Weymouth, England

Author, and friend of Austenprose, Stephanie Barron has contributed an online article in the “Three Books” series on NPR. Which books did she choose? Why Regency-era of course.

In Three Books, Two Centuries And One English Regency, Barron highlights: Seize the Fire: Heroism, Duty, And Nelson’s Battle of Trafalgar,  by Adam Nicolson; The Battle: A New History of Waterloo, by Alessandro Barbero; and Persuasion, by Jane Austen.

Stephanie is famous for her Being a Jane Austen Mystery series of ten (soon to be eleven) novels featuring Jane Austen as a sleuth. We are reading the entire series this year in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011 right here on Austenprose. You can check out my reviews through the 8th book and other participants reviews posted here. Stephanie’s next book in the series, Jane and the Canterbury Tale, arrives next Tuesday, August 30th, 2011! We are presently reading it and are enchanted.

Stephanie’s three books are all very interesting choices to highlight an era that we all love so dearly — but, Gentle Reader, what would you have selected? Mine would have been…

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Georgette Heyer Birthday Bash Celebration with Laura Wallace & Sourcebooks!

Georgette HeyerQueue the paper streamers and party hats – today, Tuesday August 16th, is Georgette Heyer’s 109th birthday! We are celebrating the Queen of Regency Romance in style with a great guest blog from our resident Heyer enthusiast Laura Wallace and a ton of fabulous giveaways from Sourcebooks. So put on your best party frock and dancing slippers and let the merriment begin!

Welcome Laura:

When I was about twelve years old, I received a mysterious box for Christmas from one of my aunts.  It was an ordinary flat shirt box, but it was heavy.  I opened it to find a rather tattered collection of paperback books.  The spines were broken, the pages dog-eared, the covers occasionally torn, and the pictures on the covers were of rather dreadful-looking females in high-waisted dresses in atrocious colors with ´60s hairstyles.

With many years´ hindsight looking back, I was not, perhaps, quite as enthusiastic as I ought to have been.  But I wasn´t at all disappointed.  I was a great reader, and while I hadn´t yet discovered Jane Austen, I had discovered Victoria Holt and similar gothic novels (in the quaint, mid-20th century sense of the word) which would today probably be marketed as young adult fiction.  So I was not at all daunted by this large box of what appeared to be historical fiction.  This was, it turned out, my aunt´s well-loved Georgette Heyer collection, which she was passing along to me.  I don´t remember what she said.  I don´t remember which novel I read first, or how long it took me to get around to it.  I don´t remember much about them, except that once, a few years later, I went searching through my Heyer books looking for the one about Catherine Morland, who was duped by that jerk John Thorpe who drove off with her when she had promised to take a walk with her friend Miss Tilney and her brother, and hurt their feelings.  I never did find it, until I read all of Austen´s novels (some of them for the first time) many years later when I made the acquaintance of Colin Firth´s Mr. Darcy.  But by the time I graduated from high school, I was devoted to Georgette Heyer.

I still have all those old paperbacks, which are now truly falling apart.  I never passed them along to my own niece because she was uninterested.  (She eventually returned most of the ones I tried to give to her, including Heyer, Austen, and Holt-I guess I impressed on her too much how precious they were to me.)  A few of them are still on my shelf as my only copy of that particular novel, though most have been replaced.  The rest are in a protective box.

Later, on something called BITNET, I discovered both Austen-L and the Georgette Heyer Mailing List, the latter of which was run by Eileen Kendall.  There I found like-minded readers who loved these authors and whose discussions of their books enriched my enjoyment and appreciation of them.  Although I love many other authors, I have never found any to equal their elegance of prose, gentle manners, and exquisite settings.  Both Austen and Heyer literally changed the way I feel about words and about literature, and even about the world.  Reading them makes me want to write novels.  (I am still attempting to do so.)  Reading them makes me study history and even genealogy.  Reading them makes me collect books about Regency England and much of the preceding and following centuries. It makes me spend hours studying in academic libraries, and sometimes makes me wish I´d majored in history, or gone back to school for a Ph.D. in history.  It makes want to write biographies of Regency-era people as well as novels.  It certainly was the genesis for my website on the British system of noble titles.

Reading Austen and Heyer led even to my falling in love with the portraiture of Sir Thomas Lawrence, which I collect avidly in electronic images, books, and prints, and to the study of other portrait artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and to the study of costume.  It placed Beethoven and Mozart in a particular context and enriches my enjoyment of both playing and listening to them, as well as seeking out other composers of the era (and I was a music major, so I didn´t exactly lack context for them).

I could go on, but I think you get the picture!

So, to celebrate Georgette Heyer´s birthday, I give thanks for her life and for her work, which gives me so much pleasure so frequently, and impacts my own world almost every day.  I know there are others like me among her legions of fans who value her work for all the reasons she herself valued it:  for the meticulous research, the exquisite language, the wit and humour, the memorable characters, and the wonderful world she created that we can go back to again and again, always certain to find something beautifully wrought and something that is new.  And most of all, perhaps, always certain to find pleasure and inspiration.  Happy Birthday, Miss Heyer!

Laura A. Wallace, is a musician, attorney, and writer living in Southeast Texas.  She is a devotee of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer and is the author of British Titles of Nobility:  An Introduction and Primer to the Peerage (1998).

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Heyer Laura. We all have our own personal Georgette Heyer stories, or you should have if you have not discovered this great author yet.

Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one of the three Heyer ‘Novel Packs’ that have been generously donated by Sourcebooks. Share your favorite Georgette Heyer story with us such as: Who recommended her to you? What was the first novel you read? Which novel is your favorite? Who is the most swoon worthy hero?  To qualify, leave a comment by midnight PT, Wednesday August 24th. Winners to be announced on Thursday, August 25th. Shipment to the US and Canada only. Good luck to all.

Heyer Pack #1

  • Bath Tangle
  • The Reluctant Widow
  • The Grand Sophy
  • Regency Buck
  • The Convenient Marriage

Heyer Pack #2

  • The Black Moth
  • The Masqueraders
  • False Colours
  • Black Sheep
  • Lady of Quality

Heyer Pack #3

  • Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle
  • Charity Girl
  • Cousin Kate
  • The Foundling
  • The Talisman Ring  

Remember – in celebration of Georgette Heyer’s birthday, Sourcebooks is also offering all 46 of the Heyer’s books that they publish in eBook format for $1.99 from August 15-August 21 ONLY.

Stock up. These great prices may never happen again.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laura A. Wallace, Austenprose

The Private World of Georgette Heyer, by Jane Aiken-Hodge – A Review

The Private World of Georgette Heyer, by Jane Aiken-Hodge (2011)From the desk of Laura A. Wallace: 

Jane Aiken Hodge’s 1984 biography of Georgette Heyer, reissued this month by Sourcebooks, was until very recently the only one available.  Published ten years after Heyer’s death, it describes her life primarily from her letters to her publisher.  An intensely private person, Heyer eschewed publicity, never giving an interview, and not keeping her papers for posterity.  Thus a biographer has relatively little material available.  Hodge interviewed Heyer’s editors, surviving family members, and a very few friends (all of whom loved or respected her), and then wove a narrative around the books themselves, using them to illustrate her life, and vice versa.

A lot of the criticism of this biography has focused on either errors Hodge made about the novels themselves, or some kind of personal disappointment the reader feels from finding Heyer Continue reading “The Private World of Georgette Heyer, by Jane Aiken-Hodge – A Review”

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