Initially I planned to cover something else this month. I was going to tackle another big fantasy series, but after last month I didn’t want to do that. Then I was going to look at a Young Adult author, but I’ve just got hold of her latest book and want to wait until I’ve finished it. So instead this month’s spotlight is the author I’m currently reading, who I suspect many of you won’t have heard of.
Georgette Heyer (1902-1974) is one of the main reasons Regency romances exist, essentially, though she wrote across other genres as well. (In particular she’s written some mysteries set in the Roaring Twenties that I want to read once I’ve finally finished the Regencies, as well as various novels from much earlier in history.) Her Regency novels are pretty similar to Jane Austen, but 1) with a lot more detail and context, since Austen was writing for an audience who already knew the setting whereas Heyer had to explain it for her readers; worldbuilding! Very well done worldbuilding, too; Heyer was a real historian. And 2) straight up funnier.
Because these books are funny. Not necessarily laugh-out-loud, the way Pratchett’s are, but – well, I’ve created a new tag; ‘books to make you smile’. I would say charming if that didn’t sound so patronising. They’re real feel-good books; her characters are warm and funny and often slightly absurd. And the romances are usually surprisingly healthy, remarkably so given the time they’re set in and the time they were written. Not always, but so far I’d say easily a 95% success rate as far as I’m concerned. There’s always an actual plot above and beyond the romance, ranging from the mundane to the surprisingly action-packed; it’s often easy to work out the end of the story, but usually not how it gets there.
These books make me happy to read them, it’s as simple as that. I owe my mother and my grandmother an apology, since they both separately recommended Heyer to me many years ago and I only recently finally got around to them. I doubt you’ll find physical copies very easily, but they’re all on Kindle and presumably other e-readers.
My grandmother always particularly recommended Arabella; my mother’s favourite was The Convenient Marriage. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them and would also urge you to look out for False Colours, The Unknown Ajax, Frederica, The Quiet Gentleman and The Nonesuch in particular. Though honestly, all of them have been wonderful (with the slight exception of the Alistair-Audley trilogy, since I didn’t particularly like the characters).
In other news, I am currently rejoicing that Cormoran Strike: Career of Evil is going to air this week and I don’t have to watch it. Also I’m sure nobody is surprised that the next HP post is going to be a while yet.