‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’ event wrap-up and poll

This marks the final post of the ‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer‘ event here at Austenprose. It has been a wonderful month of 34 book reviews of her romance novels, guest blogs, interviews and all out Heyer madness. I hope it chased away that fit of the blue-devils.

A big thank you to each of the guest reviewers. Well done. I have learned so much and enjoyed your insights. A big round of applause for Vic of Jane Austen’s World for her wonderful interview, author Helen Simonson for sharing her life-passion for Heyer, the ladies at Teach Me Tonight for their blog on Heyer Heroes and an extra shout out to Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks for her wonderful interview and their donation of the majority of the novels in the giveaways.

Remember, you have until September 6th, 2010 to get your last comments in to qualify for the giveaways and then the winners will be announced on Tuesday September 7th, 2010. Good luck to all. Whoever wins the grand prize of 34 novels is one lucky sod.

Now, one last challenge. Please vote for your top ten favorite Heyer romance novels. I know it’s a tough job to narrow it down, but it is a great way to see who is a diamond of the first water.

It’s been such fun gang. You all were a wonderful partyers and I hope you will come back and search through the reviews before you choose your next Heyer to read.

‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’ Event Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of all 34 Georgette Heyer Regency romance novels being reviewed here during the event  (YES! THAT’S RIGHT! 34 NOVELS) by leaving a comment during the event in any post during the month of August 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. The grand prize winner will be announced on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010. Shipment to continental US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Cheers, Laurel Ann

Finis

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

Why we love to read & re-read Georgette Heyer: A birthday tribute

Today is Georgette Heyer’s birthday. I can think of no better way to celebrate the occasion than with a fellow Heyerite and Regency-era authority, Vic Sanborn of Jane Austen’s World. Vic has graciously agreed to be quizzed on her passion and knowledge of the Queen of Regency Romance, so please welcome her and feel free to ask your own questions as well.

Thank you for inviting me, Laurel Ann. Happy Birthday, Georgette! I can’t think of a better way to spend her special day either.

Some critics write Georgette Heyer off as merely a romance novelist. Others praise her for her historical accuracy, witty dialogue and engaging plots. Looking back on her fifty plus novels, why do you think she is still so popular years after her first publication?

When she was a current bestselling author, Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances stood out from the pack. Her humorous but well-researched writing rose above a sea of earnestly written historical romances. In those days, Daphne du Maurier, Jean Plaidy (Victoria Holt), Mary Stewart, and Mills and Boon (Harlequin) authors reigned supreme. While these best-selling authors were popular, none came close to combining humor, history, and romance in Georgette’s inimitable way. Today, GH’s breezy style doesn’t stand out quite as vividly, because there are many other romance writers (Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susan Andersen, Sandra Hill, Jane Ann Krentz) who publish funny and sassy romances, but back in the dark ages when I went to college, Georgette had the humorous romance field to herself.

One reason that Georgette’s books have survived so well is that the worlds she created for her characters seem authentic. A reader can be confident that her research was accurate and meticulous. She visited museums and the British Library, and filled notebook after notebook with her observations and drawings. In addition, she and her husband lived in Mayfair. In her daily life, Georgette walked in the same streets as her heroes and heroines. GH characters frequently spoke Regency cant, which made their language sound absolutely authentic. Who can forget the rich dialog from A Lady of Quality?:

“It wouldn’t do for you to call him Bangster, for that would be too impolite, but I see nothing amiss with you calling him Captain Hackum, which has the same meaning, but wrapped up in clean linen!”

Mr Carleton grinned, and kindly explained to his bewildered niece that these terms signified a bully. “They are cant terms,” he further explained, “and far too vulgar for you to use! Anyone hearing them on your lips would write you down as a brass-faced hussy, without conduct or delicacy.”

“Devil!” said Miss Wychwood, with feeling.

“Oh, you’re quizzing me!” Lucilla exclaimed, slightly offended. “Both of you! I wish you will not! I am not a brass-faced hussy, though I daresay people would think me one if I called you merely Oliver! I am sure it must be most improper!”

Good stories never die and Georgette Heyer at the very least was a masterful storyteller. As early as the age of seventeen, when she related The Black Moth to her sick hospitalized brother, GH could tell a rousing tale of romance that combined intrigue as well as history. Many of her books involved complicated stories, and she worked hard at weaving one or two main plots in with several subplots. In reading Georgette’s letters to her publisher, I realized that she took her work quite seriously and spent countless hours perfecting her plots. Readers might disagree with the particulars in her books, such as an annoying character or a hero who was not heroic enough, but she threw so many enjoyable elements into the mix that her fans easily forgave her an occasional misstep.

I think there might be one more reason why GH romances are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. When Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Wolf and the Dove burst upon the scene in the early 70s, she changed historical romance forever. Woodiwiss added steamy, sometimes sadistic sex scenes, to what was once a fairly tame genre. I believe that Georgette Heyer’s books have retained their popularity in part because her stories are “family friendly.” You can confidently suggest her books to your daughters, mothers, and friends without the danger of passing on “soft core porn.” Not that I don’t like a steamy novel or two, but I would not purchase them for my younger nieces.

Credited as the pioneer of historical romance, what qualities in Georgette Heyer’s writing do you appreciate? What do you think was her greatest weakness?

I love that Georgette made the Regency era come so colorfully alive! We will never precisely know the smells and sights and sounds of days of yore, but she made us believe that she had recreated that era to a tee.  Through her eyes we can see Mayfair, and London, and turnpike roads, and glittering ballrooms. We shop with her heroines on Bond Street, and meet the “coves “operating in the seamier parts of Cheapside. We join the parade of carriages on Rotten Row, eat ices and sweets at Gunter’s, watch balloons ascend in Hyde Park and cows being milked in Green Park, promenade up and down the Pump Room in Bath, talk to Lady Jersey at Almack’s Assembly Rooms, gamble with Beau Brummel, and join the Bow Street runners as they chase down highwaymen. We enter inns and taverns and grand country houses, and are privy to the way servants took care of their masters, and vice versa. Jane Austen seldom described her world in detail, but Georgette Heyer more than filled in those gaps.

GH imbued her novels with the vitality of that era, with wars and smugglers and highwaymen, and with the inventions of the Industrial Revolution, such as balloon ascensions, new gas lights in Pall Mall, and a raucous ride on the velocipede, the precursor to the bicycle. She capitalized on the improvements of Regency roads by having her characters travel all over Great Britain. The viewer could be assured that if her characters took a number of hours to reach Point B from Point A, then she had the distance correct. GH not only knew her muslins, but she could pinpoint which fashion trends were popular during a certain year. Readers lapped up those details. Since then many authors have imitated her style when writing their Regency romances, but Georgette was the first to do it and she remains the best.

In terms of character, most of Georgette’s heroes and heroines possessed an audacious quality that bordered on recklessness and outright rebellion. In These Old Shades, the dissipated Lord Avon (Justin) takes a virginal and trusting young girl – the natural daughter of his bitter enemy – as his ward. Friends and acquaintances are aghast, until they meet Léonie. In the following passage, you can read how deftly Georgette could sketch a scene and describe a character’s effect on those around her::

“Bit by bit the Court, so long bereft of a mistress, began to wear a more cheerful air. Léonie’s glad young spirit pervaded it; she flung back heavy curtains, and consigned ponderous screens to the lumber room. Windows were opened to let in the wintry sun, and bit by bit the oppressive solemnity of the place disappeared. Léonie would have none of the stern neatness that was wont to reign there. She tumbled prim cushions, pushed chairs out of place, and left books lying on odd tables, caring nothing for Madam Field’s shocked protests. Justin permitted her to do as she pleased; it amused him to watch her gyrations, and he liked to hear her give orders to his expressionless lackeys. Clearly she had the habit of command: unusual she might be, but never did she exhibit any lack of breeding.”

At a ball, in which Avon (Justin) described the guests to Léonie, you can read how effortlessly GH wove history in with fiction:

“There is March,” he said, “who will be Duke of Queensberry. You have heard me speak of him. There is Hamilton, who is famous for his wife. She was one of the Miss Gunnings—beauties, my dear, who set London by the ears not so many years ago. Maria Gunning married Coventry. If you want wit, there is Mr. Selwyn, who has quite an inimitable way with him. And we must not forget Horry Walpole: he would hate to be forgotten. He lives in Arlington Street, child, and wherever you go you may be sure of meeting him. In Bath I believe Nash still reigns. A parvenu, infant, but a man of some genius. Bath is his kingdom. One day I will take you there. Then we have the Cavendish—Devonshire, my dear; and the Seymours, and my Lord Chesterfield, whom you will know by his wit, and his dark eyebrows. Whom else? There is my Lord of Bath, and the Bentincks, and his Grace of Newcastle, of some fame. If you want the Arts you have the tedious Johnson: a large man, my dear, with a larger head. He is not worth your consideration. He lacks polish. There is Colley Cibber, one of our poets, Mr. Sheridan, who writes plays for us, and Mr. Garrick, who acts them; and a score of others, In painting we have Sir Joshua Reynolds, who shall paint you, perhaps, and a great many others whose names elude me.”

Heyer’s heroes have many outstanding qualities. They can act cruelly towards selfish mistresses and avaricious relatives and give no quarter to their enemies, but they are fiercely loyal to those they love. These alpha, or Mark I heroes, often out-dandy Beau Brummel himself. Some drive four-in-hand carriages better than professional Royal Mail coach drivers, and others are able to handle a sword adroitly and outmaneuver their enemies with the ease of a military man. Rough around the edges and a man’s man, Mark I heroes can also be tender and solicitous with dogs, children, and frail women. Georgette’s beta heroes, or Mark II heroes, are the modern equivalent of the capable metrosexual man – supportive and understanding of the female mind and her need for a new dress or bonnet, and warm and fuzzy and kind all over. I admit to preferring Mark I heroes.

Georgette Heyer’s greatest weaknesses, in my estimation, lie in her one-dimensional plots (complicated as they are with events and activities) and the predictability of her characters and endings. Certain character types appear repeatedly: the bored alpha hero whose predictable routine is enlivened by an audacious sprite; the beautiful, spoiled and wilful matron who dresses far too young for her age and has never matured; the jealous mistress who leads the young heroine astray, thereby delaying the inevitable union between hero and heroine; and the young silly dandy who, like Baroness Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel, hides his heroic tendencies behind a foppish facade. All her heroes eventually win the heroine’s heart, and one presumes that they live happily ever after. However, GH’s glittery, one-dimensional plots are so similar with their action-packed coincidences, that after some time passes I have difficulty distinguishing one book from another.

From a personal standpoint, I  tend not to like the novels in which Georgette paired a very young heroine with an older, mature hero, and she did this frequently. I know this age discrepancy was common at the time, but I have found that reading a romance about a 16- or 17-year-old and a man approaching his 40’s is not my cup of tea. For this reason, I like These Old Shades less than some of GH’s other novels, even though the book is splendidly written.

Because GH novels are so frothy, they are like rich meringues that produce an instant sugary high but contain very little sustenance. Jane Austen’s six books provide more intellectual heft than all of Georgette Heyer’s 50+ books combined. But I do not mean to quibble, for GH novels have provided me with many a pleasurable hour of reading. The world of literature is large enough to accommodate both Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, and I am happy for it.

Like Jane Austen, Heyer is known for keen sense of the charms and foibles of human nature. Her sparkling dialogues between her heroes and heroines are often eye popping and hilarious. Can you share a favorite passage?

There are so many. Each book is filled with priceless dialog. One of my favorite passages concerns the misunderstanding between Ned Carlyon and Elinor Rochdale in The Reluctant Widow, when he thinks he is hiring a bride for his dissolute and dying nephew, and she thinks she is applying for a post as governess to a small boy. Elinor tells Ned:

“I shall do my best, sir, to fill the position satisfactorily.” She detected irony in his steady gaze, and was disconcerted by it…”Perhaps it would be as well if I were to lose no time in making the acquaintance of my charge.”

His lips curled. “An apt term!” he remarked dryly. “By all means, but your charge is not at the moment on the premises. …If what you must already have observed has not daunted you, you encourage me to hope that your resolution will not fail you when you are brought face to face with him….”

“I was given to understand, I own, that I might find him a trifle — a trifle high spirited, perhaps.”

“You have either a genius for understatement, ma’am, or the truth was not told you, if that is what you understand.”

She laughed. “Well, you are very frank, sir! I should not expect to be told all the truth, but I might collect it, reading between the lines, I fancy.”

“You are a brave woman!” he said.

Her amusement grew….”I dare say he has been a little spoilt?”

Then there are the typical introductions of the hero, who usually makes a grand entrance of sorts, as Avon in These Old Shades (can you tell I am rereading this novel at present?):

“The great front-door stood open, and into the house stepped his Grace of Avon, elegant in a coat of fine purple velvet, laced with gold, a many-caped greatcoat, over all, worn carelessly open, and polished top-boots on his feet. He paused on the threshold and raised his eyeglass to survey the Merivales.”

Many of Heyer’s plots are filled with comedy high jinxes and uproarious plot twists. It is not uncommon to be supplied with no less than a duel, a sword fight, highway robbery, abduction, switched identities, carriage races and all-around scandalous behavior in one novel! How does Heyer do it? How does she take us on such an outrageously wild ride and make it all so believable?

Without a doubt, Georgette’s heroes and heroines all know the conventions of polite society and the rules of etiquette, but something in their characters allows them to abandon any sense of decorum or convention. A few of the young heroines regard themselves as “on the shelf,” and therefore feel free to carry on as if the rules for young virgins on the marriage mart don’t apply to them. This leads the GH heroine into all sorts of interesting scrapes. Others seek to escape untenable situations. Young Pen Creed cuts her hair short and climbs out of a second-story window in the dead of night. The Corinthian first mistakes her for a lad:

Sir Richard was not precisely sober, but although the brandy fumes had produced in his brain a not unpleasant sense of irresponsibility, they had by no means fuddled his intellect. Sir Richard, his chin tickled by curls, and his arms full of fugitive, made a surprising discovery. He set the fugitive down, saying in a matter-of-fact voice: “Yes, but I don’t think you are a youth, after all!”

“No, I’m a girl,” replied the fugitive, apparently undismayed by his discovery.

“But, please, will you come away before they wake up?”

Pen, an heiress, has decided to run away from the fish-faced fiancee she will be forced to marry if she remains in London, and is determined to find her childhood friend, who promised to marry her when they were only children. Not only do Pen’s actions seems reasonable to herself, but our drunk hero decides on the spot to join her and protect her from harm. With much stubbornness, bickering and misunderstanding, Pen and Sir Richard set out on their grand adventure, and another delicious GH novel has begun.

Sir Richard from The Corinthian has many similar qualities to other Heyer heroes. Rich, disillusioned and bored, he decides to break the rules of convention just to feel alive and useful. Many of us can associate with such an ennui, or relate to a desire to break free from the expectations of one’s family and friends. And then there are the cast of supporting players that inhabit Heyer’s fictional world. I love her teen-aged boys, whose enthusiasm for getting into scrapes seem so very life like . Her dogs, too, are spot on and their antics add a playful and believable element that brighten her plots.

I was a Georgette Heyer neophyte until two years ago when your review of Friday’s Child charmed me into taking the plunge. I have now read eight of her novels without regret. If you were to advise a new reader, which three novels would you recommend?

When I was younger I would have said Frederica, Venetia, and the Grand Sophy without hesitation, so I recommend those three for young neophytes. Now that I am a bit longer in the tooth, I favor The Reluctant Widow and Marriage of Convenience for their mature heroes and heroines, and would recommend them to more seasoned readers. I would then urge them to read my first three choices! Wait, I also love The Corinthian, Faro’s Daughter, Friday’s Child, and… (Uh, oh, did I just cheat?)

I must ask the perfunctory questions on every Heyer enthusiasts mind! Who are your favorite hero and heroine, and which is YOUR favorite novel, and why?

Oh, what a tricky question! That’s like asking a food addict to make one choice at a buffet. Impossible, but I’ll do my best. My hero must be a dark and brooding rescuer. Don’t ask me why. And my heroine must have a lively wit, and the intelligence to butt heads with her hero, even if she is dead wrong. She must also possess the elegance of a Mayfair fashionista and the daring do of an out and outer. So here goes – *deep gulp*

  • Favorite hero: Marquis of Alverstoke, Frederica
  • Favorite heroine: Sophia Stanton-Lacy, The Grand Sophy
  • Favorite novel: The Corinthian, no The Reluctant Widow, no Frederica! (Eenie, meenie, minie, moe!)

Happy Birthday, Georgette Heyer! And thank you for this wonderful interview, Laurel Ann!

Blogmistress of Jane Austen’s World and Jane Austen Today, Vic Sanborn has loved reading Jane Austen novels, particularly Pride and Prejudice, since she was in High School. She discovered Georgette Heyer just after she graduated from college. Having run out of new Jane Austen novels to read, she began to search for other regency stories set in similar settings. One day at the library, she stumbled across Charity Girl and Arabella, and her love affair with all things Georgette began. You can also follow Vic on Twitter as janeaustenworld.

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 10 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win the grand prize of all thirty-four copies (yes, 34) of the Georgette Heyer novels being reviewed this month during the ‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’ event by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Georgette Heyer or who your favorite hero or heroine is by midnight Pacific time, Monday, September 6th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010. Shipment to continental US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 10   Aug 16 – Review: Friday’s Child
Day 11   Aug 18 – Review: The Quiet Gentleman
Day 11   Aug 18 – Review: Cotillion
Day 12   Aug 20 – Review: The Toll-Gate

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

The Foundling, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Claire of The Captive Reader

Originally published in 1948, The Foundling was one of the very few Heyer Regency novels I had not read.  As is always the case when you’re working against a deadline, I had some trouble tracking down a copy (even the library large print edition had multiple holds!) but I found one and settled down for what turned out to be a very energetic and amusing read.

At twenty-four, the Duke of Sale (Gilly) is still being cosseted by his extended family and staff who, having gotten into the habit of caring for the Duke in his invalid youth, have not yet realised that he’s grown into a capable, if frustrated, young man.  When Gilly’s young cousin becomes entangled with the beautiful foundling Belinda and her enterprising guardian, Gilly immediately spies a chance to rebel against his protectors and to test his competence.  Quickly, he becomes entangled in an exhilarating adventure, and, with two rather troublesome dependents in tow, finds that he needs all his wits about him to manage the extraordinary circumstances into which he’s been thrust.

What fun this was!  It is truly an old-style romance, by which I mean an adventure tale with sinister villains, daring kidnappings, a beautiful damsel, and the appropriate comic relief.  Except that Gilly, for all his titles, is hardly the dashing hero such circumstances usually require.  It’s lovely to see how he grows and manages to handle the extraordinary situations on his own, having been cared for by others his entire life, but it is just as nice to know that such success is unlikely to go to his head.  Gilly, the reader is assured, shall remain as kind and stable as ever, only more confident of his own abilities and far more independent.

If you’re familiar with Heyer’s style and, more importantly, her plots, there won’t be many surprises here but that doesn’t lessen the enjoyment.  Indeed, part of the fun with any Heyer novel is comparing it to those you have previously read, recognizing a certain plot twist from one, a secondary character with a doppelganger in another.  Most obviously, The Foundling is very similar in plot to its inferior successor Charity Girl (originally published in 1970).  Indeed, Harriet from The Foundling is almost identical to Henrietta in Charity Girl, in name, personality, and fate.  Gilly has less distinct relations among Heyer’s heroes, being of a more gentle and retiring nature than most.  In his evolution though and the reactions of those around him, I can’t help but draw comparisons with Cotillion’s Freddy.  The Foundling truly distinguishes itself with its villains.  So few Heyer novels have any true villains but here we have swindlers and kidnappers and a very young, very poor excuse for a highwayman (hardly qualifying as a villain, he is however the only one to successfully get arrested).  Indeed, the chief villain is the brilliantly named Mr Liversedge, a name that Dickens himself would applaud.  Of course, because it’s Heyer, even the villain is treated to a very neat and quite extraordinary fate.

Considering the relative simplicity of the plot, The Foundling is a surprisingly long novel.  This length gave Heyer ample opportunity to show off her impressive period knowledge.  Typical of her stories with young male protagonists, there is perhaps an over-zealous use of Regency slang.  I personally adore it, but I imagine it could be disorienting for those new to Heyer’s style.  I particularly loved getting such a detailed glimpse into the male domain, usually relegated to the periphery of Heyer’s stories.  We’re treated to far more information on male pastimes and clothing than in most (any?) of her other books.  For me, it’s this obsession with detail, with creating a vivid and accurate sense of time and place that first established Heyer as one of my favourite novelists and keeps me returning to her books.

The Foundling, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2009)
Trade paperback (448) pages
ISBN: 978-1402219481

Claire is a twenty-something Canadian girl trapped in the corporate world, desperately seeking escape through an ever-expanding library and the world of book-blogging.  Having been introduced to the delights of Georgette Heyer by her grandmother during a summer visit as a teenager, Claire continually struggles to interest others in what they dismiss as “silly romances” and to prevent herself from using Regency slang in normal conversation.  She has had little success with either endeavour.  She began blogging as The Captive Reader in January 2010, having run out of coworkers, friends and family members willing to listen to her rant about her reading habits and interests.

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 08 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of The Foundling, by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks, 2009) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about the plot or characters, or if you have read it, which is your favorite character or scene 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 event posts

Day 09   Aug 15 – Review: Arabella
Day 09   Aug 15 – Review: The Grand Sophy
Day 10   Aug 16 – Interview with Vic Sanborn
Day 10   Aug 16 – Review: Friday’s Child

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

The Corinthian, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Danielle of A Work in Progress

The Corinthian is the perfect summer read, a page turning romp through Regency England with all the right elements pulled off perfectly.  It’s a light-hearted comedy of manners and very much an adventure story with all sorts of twists and turns and misunderstandings — not surprising since the heroine spends the entire novel dressed as a boy!

I wasn’t sure at first just what a Corinthian was, though it’s easy to infer the meaning over the course of the novel.  The dictionary defines it as:

a man about town, esp. one who lives luxuriously or, sometimes, dissolutely.

In this case, Sir Richard Wyndham is the Corinthian.  Very much a dandy he is known as the “Man of Fashion” who cares for nothing but “the set of his cravat, polish on his boots, and the blending of his snuff“.  Always elegantly attired from his perfectly windswept hair to the toes of his gleaming Hessian boots, he’s generally unutterably bored.  He’s not lacking in encouragement to do his duty to find a wife and beget an heir, but he really couldn’t be bothered.  Nearing thirty his mother and sister are urging him to marry a woman he grew up knowing.  Only it would be a marriage of convenience as the lady is rather cold and disinterested.  She will prevail upon him to accept his suit only because her family’s financial situation is dire, not because she loves him.  Despite being the most eligible catch in the Marriage Mart, he has no other prospects (at least the sort who want him for himself rather than his bank account) and has resigned himself to his fate.

But fate has a way of tripping you up sometimes.  After a particularly long and indulgent evening at Almacks he leaves in a state of serious inebriation. Being “devilish drunk”, he decides to walk home and happens upon a most unusual sight.  Out of an upper story window of a prim house a mysterious fugitive comes scampering down a rope made up of knotted sheets only to discover it isn’t long enough.  The fugitive is a slight youth who begs Sir Richard’s assistance.

The slight youth turns out to be not a boy, but a girl.  Penelope Creed is no simpering miss.  She’s an impish character, ready for adventure, but not the sort that includes becoming betrothed to her fish-faced cousin. An orphaned heiress she lives with her aunt who has distinct ideas of just what’s proper – a stifling atmosphere for one just out of the schoolroom.  Richard is ready to send her packing back to her aunt, though she begs him to allow her to set off for Somerset, to her family’s estates and a friend she’s not seen for five years.

“There was a pause.  Sir Richard unfobbed his snuff-box with a flick of one practised finger, and took a pinch.  Miss Creed swallowed and said: ‘If you had ever seen my cousin, you would understand’.”

“He glanced down at her, but said nothing.”

“‘He has a wet mouth,’ said Miss Creed despairingly.”

“‘That settles it,’ said Sir Richard, shutting his snuff-box.’I will escort you to your childhood friend’.”

Sir Richard agrees to accompany Pen from London to Somerset — a journey filled with comedy and misadventure.  It’s truly a rollicking good read and I could happily have went back to the beginning and started reading the story all over again.  Heyer creates a wonderful atmosphere with just the right tension and perfect chemistry between Richard and Pen.  Unlike many of Heyer’s heroes, Richard is not dour or condescending.  He has a wry sense of humor that clicks with Pen’s youthful enthusiasm.  They are both so likeable you can’t but help root for them. The Corinthian is one of, if not my very favorite, Heyer novel.

The Corinthian, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2009)
Trade paperback (272) pages
ISBN: 978-1402217692

Danielle has been blogging since 2005 at A Work in Progress. Writing about reading and interacting with other readers worldwide has been a trans-formative process, exposing her to so many authors that she might easily have missed, like Georgette Heyer, who is a fairly new obsession.  She has a fairly eclectic taste in books including classics to thrillers, detective stories, historical fiction and anything literary—new or old.  She works full time in an academic library devoting whatever free time she has left over to reading and her other passion needlework, and of course blogging about that too on The Peacock’s Feather.

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 07 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of The Corinthian, by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks, 2009) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about the plot or characters, or if you have read it, which is your favorite character or scene 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 event posts

Day 07    Aug 11 – Review: Faro’s Daughter
Day 08    Aug 13 – Review: The Reluctant Widow
Day 08    Aug 13 – Review: The Foundling
Day 09    Aug 15 – Review: Arabella

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

An Infamous Army, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Elaine Simpson-Long of Random Jottings

An Infamous Army is a novel about the battle of Waterloo with a love story attached, not the other way round and the title refers to the Duke of Wellington’s unkind nickname for the motley collection of national armies under his command in 1815.

The story is set in Brussels where English society, the ‘ton’, had flocked for the season as it was the place to be and a hectic social whirl takes place in the months before Waterloo. Here we find Lord Worth and his now wife, Judith, whose romance we read about in Regency Buck.  Judith, who I freely admit is not one of my favourite Heyer heroines, is now a matron of some years with a child and rather conscious of her status and reputation so when the notorious Bab Childe hits town and Charles Audley, her delightful and charming brother in law falls madly in love with her, she is not best pleased, foreseeing disaster and scandal.

Bab Childe is a character who I really love, though on the surface she seems to have inherited all the wildest characteristics of her grandfather, Vidal (yes he of Devil’s Cub who makes a brief appearance), she is beautiful, brave and warm hearted and it is the involvement we, as readers, have with Charles and Barbara, their coming together, their parting and their final reconciliation which keeps us hooked.

Heyer is very clever here. Would you read some seventy pages given over to a description of the campaign at Waterloo if you were not personally involved? Probably not.  The first time I read this Heyer I was totally overwhelmed with admiration when reading this section – it doesn’t bore, it doesn’t drag, it is as history should be.  It seems that I am not alone in my admiration as this account of the Battle of Waterloo is so highly thought of that it has been used at Sandhurst Military Academy in their training programme ever since.

When reading a biography of Georgette Heyer I came across a rather lovely anecdote from her son who remembers being taken, as a child, to the United Services Institute, where they found a model of the Battle of Waterloo. His mother began to describe it to him, too absorbed to notice the arrival of a party of school children filing in behind her whose mistress told them to hush and listen as she recognized the speaker and knew she was in the presence of an authority.

When I go to my library, I find Heyer’s books filed in the romance section along with Mills & Boon, Harlequin et al. Please don’t think I am dissing such books, I am not.  I adore a good romance as much as the next person but I think Georgette Heyer is a writer who should not be classified in this genre. She deserves more recognition and appreciation. She never received it in her lifetime from the literati of the day and it was a source of some bitterness to her.  She certainly proves that she deserves it in this marvelous book.

An Infamous Army, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2007)
Trade paperback (492) pages
ISBN: 978-1402210075

Elaine Simpson-Long has been blogging at Random Jottings now for four years and is amazed and delighted by the response she receives from her many visitors.  Thinking that nobody would want to read her thoughts on books as well as opera and life in general, she finds blogging to be enormous fun and very satisfying. Now retired after years of commuting to the city, she enjoys looking after her granddaughter whenever possible, traveling, going to the theatre and opera and of course, reading, reading, reading. Follow Elaine on Twitter as Brooksideelaine.

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 06 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of An Infamous Army, by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks, 2007) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about the plot or characters, or if you have read it, which is your favorite character or scene 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 event posts

Day 06    Aug 09 – Review: The Spanish Bride
Day 07    Aug 11 – Review: The Corinthian
Day 07    Aug 11 – Review: Faro’s Daughter
Day 08    Aug 13 – Review: The Reluctant Widow

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

The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Ana of An Evening at Almack’s

I have been a long time fan of Georgette Heyer. I first read some of books while a teenager in translated versions and now, as an adult, I have been collecting them in the original English thanks to Arrow and Sourcebooks who made them readily available everywhere.

The Talisman Ring was one of the books that I read more recently. A mixed story, part romance / part mystery, it sees two couples searching around for a family jewel to exonerate one of the heroes from a murder charge. To make a long story short, Sir Tristam Shield and Eustacie de Vauban are ordered by their great granduncle and grandfather respectively to embark on a marriage of convenience to guarantee Eustacie’s wellbeing and status in life after the old man dies. But Eustacie is a lively and romantic girl who finds Sir Tristam a stuffy unromantic old man and decides to run away to become a governess. On the road she finds her cousin Ludovic, her grandfather’s heir who has been on the run for the past two years after having been suspected of murdering a man on the night his favourite jewel – the talisman ring – disappeared. Ludovic is now a free trader, which seems utterly adventurous and romantic to Eustacie, and after an encounter with the excise men he is hurt and they find shelter at a nearby inn. There they find Lady Sarah Thane, a young woman who travels with her brother and seems to have an original sense of humour, and that’s where Sir Tristam eventually finds them. With Eustacie and Ludovic on their way to falling in love the four set out to find the jewel and prove his innocence.

I must admit that this is not one of my favourite Heyers. I think the story, as a mystery, looses pace because of the romance and all those secondary characters – the free traders, the excise men, the Bow Street Runners – and as a romance looses interest because so much time is devoted to finding the jewel. I think I am more used to those Heyer romances where we find sparkling and witty dialogue between the main characters, where the funny coincidences make for laugh out loud moments and where we have closure in the end. Here, although there are some funny moments they are not so sparkling and witty, and while the story ends with one couple engaged, the other doesn’t get the same king of closure, although everything indicates that they will do so too.

I did like Lady Sarah Thane and Sir Tristam Shield very much. To the point where I would have loved to have the book devoted solely to them. In a way, because they are an older couple they reminded me of Abby and Miles from The Black Sheep which I greatly enjoyed. If only we had seen more of them I am sure that we had been gifted with some witty dialogues. Eustacie seemed a bit too young and, well, silly. I have been fond of other young heroines like Horry and Leonie and I have forgiven them their silly naiveté because of their wonderful heroes but here I must confess that Ludovic was not a favourite with me either. He seemed impulsive and extravagant but oh so perfect for Eustacie who only wanted a husband to ride “ventre a terre” to her death bed.

But don’t be discouraged by my review, lots of Heyer fans seem to love this story so my advice to you is try it and see. There are a lot of farcical moments and if nothing else it will definitely put you in a good mood.

The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2009)
Trade paperback (316) pages
ISBN: 978-1402217715

Ana has always been a reader. Her first love is historical fiction, be it romance, mystery or general fiction, if it’s historical she is happy! She also loves to discuss books with other readers and that’s why she started blogging. You can usually find her at one of the following blogs Aneca’s World, An Evening at Almacks , Historical Tapestry and Lights, Camera… History!. You can follow Ana on Twitter as Aneca.

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 05 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks, 2009) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about the plot or characters, or if you have read it, which is your favorite character or scene 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 event posts

Day 06    Aug 09 – Review: An Infamous Army
Day 06    Aug 09 – Review: The Spanish Bride
Day 07    Aug 11 – Review: The Corinthian
Day 07    Aug 11 – Review: Faro’s Daughter

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

The Convenient Marriage, by Georgette Heyer (Naxos Audiobooks), read by Richard Armitage – A Review

I had not read The Convenient Marriage before this new Naxos Audiobooks recording happily landed on my doorstep.  I will confess all up front. I did the unthinkable. I read the complete plot synopsis on Wikipedia before I delved into the first chapter. *horrors*  Don’t even think about following my example.  It will spoil the most enjoyable aspect of this novel – surprise!

The Convenient Marriage is one of Georgette Heyer’s more popular Georgian-era rom-com’s, and for good reason.  It has all the requisite winning elements: a wealthy and eligible hero, a young naïve heroine, greedy relatives, a scheming mistress and a revengeful rake.  Add in a duel, a sword fight, highway robbery, abduction, switched identities and scandalous behavior, and you are in for comedic high jinxes and uproarious plot twists.  As I laughed out loud at the preposterous plot machinations in the synopsis, I thought to myself, “How does Heyer do it? How can she take us on such an outrageously wild ride and make it believable?” I was soon to find out.

Handsome and elegant Marcus Drelincourt, Earl of Rule, is comfortable in his bachelorhood. At thirty-five his sister Lady Louisa Quain urges him to marry, suggesting the beautiful Elizabeth Winwood. She is from an aristocratic family of good pedigree but little fortune. With two unmarried younger sisters, prim Charlotte and impulsive Horatia, and their self-indulgent elder brother Pelham (about as much help to his family as a rainstorm at a picnic), she must marry well. Lady Winwood is thrilled when the Earl agrees to marry Elizabeth and save the family from destitution. Seventeen-year old Horatia is not. Presenting herself at the Earl’s doorstep she boldly offers herself to him in exchange for her elder sister who is in love with Lieutenant Edward Heron. Horry proposes a marriage of convenience to Lord Rule with the promise that she will not interfere with him after they are married. She does not bring much to the bargain. Not only is she poor, she does not possess her sister’s beauty, and  she stutters. Intrigued by this young, brave girl, he is tempted and soon sees the logic, agreeing to her proposal.

The new Countess of Rule wastes no time in becoming the sensation of the bon ton dressing to the nines, attending parties, the opera, gambling huge sums and getting into all sorts of scrapes while her husband continues to pay attentions to his mistress Lady Caroline Massey. With patience and fortitude, Lord Rule councils his stubborn young bride against excess and the dangerous liaisons of Baron Robert Lethbridge, a known rake with a history with the Drelincourt family.

Determined to teach her husband a lesson for his interference, she defies his wishes attending a masked ball. Escorted by Lethbridge, he sees their friendship as the perfect opportunity to ruin her reputation and punish Drelincourt for thwarting his elopement with his sister Louisa years before. Horry tempts Lethbridge with cards, bending his resistance by scandalously agreeing to offer a lock of her hair if he wins. Unbeknownst to Horry, her husband has followed her to the ball, overhears their conversation and intercedes by stepping on her dress and ripping it. While she is away he disposes of Lethbridge and exchanges his costume with his own. Returning, Horry loses badly at cards and must give Lethbridge/Rule his winnings. Penitent, she concedes the bet which is met with a stolen kiss. Furious, Horry rushes away running into Lady Caroline Massey who recognizes her. Certain that her husband’s mistress will reveal to him that his wife was at the ball, she confesses all to him first. The Earl in turn reveals his charade. Discovering that he has fallen in love with his wife, how will he court and convince her that love is much better than a marriage of convenience?

Heyer’s characterizations just sparkle and shine. This May/Decemeber relationship presents great opportunity for difference in opinion and blunder. If Horry had not been an impulsive, stubborn seventeen-year old there would have been little conflict and no story. Lord Rule’s patience in dealing with his teenage bride commanded respect, endearing us to him by opening up the possibility of the love relationship that we hope for.  This delightful romp was made all the more enjoyable by this new audio recording by British stage and screen actor Richard Armitage. This is his third foray into Georgette Heyer for Naxos Audiobooks. His skill at unique characterization and resonant, velvetly voice transports the listener like Cinderella to the Ball. Unfortunately, once the story ends, so does the enchantment. My solution was to start it again. For me, a new audio recording combining fanciful storyteller Georgette Heyer and the sultry and seductive voice of Richard Armitage is like la petite mort. Hopefully they are not few and far between.

Listen to an excerpt at Naxos

The Convenient Marriage, by Georgette Heyer, read by Richard Armitage
Naxos Audiobooks (2010)
Abridged audio recording, 4 CDs, (5h 06m)
ISBN: 978-1843794417

On a whim, Laurel Ann Nattress created Austenprose, a blog celebrating the brilliance of Jane Austen’s writing and the many offshoots that she has inspired. As a bookseller at Barnes & Noble she delights in selling her favorite author’s works to the masses. In her spare time, she is currently deep into her editing duties for a Jane Austen short story anthology to be published in 2011 by Random House. An expatriate of southern California she lives in a country cottage near Seattle, where it rains a lot. You can follow Laurel Ann on Twitter as Austenprose.

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 04 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of The Convenient Marriage, by Georgette Heyer, read by Richard Armitage (Naxos Audiobooks 2010) by leaving a comment stating which Georgette Heyer novel you think Richard Armitage should narrate next for Naxos by midnight Pacific time, Monday, September 6th, 2010. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010. CD shipment to continental US. Digital download internationally. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: Regency Buck
Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: The Talisman Ring
Day 06   Aug 09 – Review: An Infamous Army
Day 06   Aug 09 – Review: The Spanish Bride

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