My favourite Austen novel is Persuasion (1817). I love Anne Elliot, her steadfastness and willingness to learn. I revel in the theme of love lost and regained and the glorious ending with Captain Wentworth’s wonderful letter. The romance is subtle and nuanced but so powerful that it stays with you long after the last page is turned.
I have a similar experience when reading Heyer’s Sprig Muslin (1956). Hester Theale is superbly realised and the romance is heightened by her refusal to marry the man she secretly loves. She believes love is lost to her but Heyer’s deft pen brings all to rights in a comic scene that is as funny as it is romantic.
Less comic, but more poignant is Heyer’s most realistic Regency novel, A Civil Contract (1961). One of my absolute favourites, Jenny Chawleigh often reminds me of Anne Elliot and Adam Deveril has many of the same characteristics as Frederick Wentworth. Like Persuasion with its lively Musgrove family, A Civil Contract, also has Adam’s sister, Lydia, and Jenny’s father, Jonathan Chawleigh, to add vibrancy and humour to the tale. Although in Heyer’s story the petulant and beautiful Julia in does not complain as much as ‘poor’ Mary Musgrove in Persuasion, she is just as inclined to feel slighted when she is not the centre of attention. A truly thoughtful book about love and family, A Civil Contract is a worthy read after Persuasion.
CONCLUSION: If you love Persuasion, read A Civil Contract.
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.