Fans of Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1817) will likely enjoy Heyer’s own take on the Gothic parody in The Reluctant Widow (1946). An early Heyer Regency, she has her tongue firmly in her cheek when recounting Elinor Rochdale’s story of a midnight marriage, a gloomy house, a tyrannical lord and a dark mystery. This is a romp in the best Heyer tradition.
Many years later Heyer wrote a more serious Gothic novel. Cousin Kate (1968) has all the elements of the genre with an orphaned heroine invited to live with her mysterious aunt in a great house in the country. Aunt Minerva has a diabolical plan involving Kate’s disturbed cousin Torquil and there is drama aplenty as Kate must navigate her way to safety and security. Heyer’s third-last novel, it is unique in the Heyer canon.
CONCLUSION: If you love Northanger Abbey, read The Reluctant Widow.
Which is your favourite Austen novel? Did you know there is a Georgette Heyer novel to match it in mood and spirit? Tune in tomorrow for the next post in this new series by famed literary scholar Jennifer Kloester, author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and the forthcoming masterwork Jane Austen’s Ghost.