In which we get to know our Heyer Society contributors — and their Heyer cred — a little better…
Name: Jennifer Kloester
Heyer Society Essay: “Georgette Heyer’s Literary Genius”
1. How old were you when you read your first Georgette Heyer novel?
I was in my early twenties, living in the jungle in Papua New Guinea. I never suspected her books would change my life.
2. What was it?
These Old Shades.
3. How did you discover her work?
Living in a small mining town in the PNG jungle and so books were in short supply. Luckily we had a tiny YWCA library and that’s where I came across her novels.
4. Did Heyer lead you to read other authors in similar genres?
Heyer got me reading history and Jane Austen and biographies of people who’d lived in the Regency era.
5. What is the Heyer book you read most recently?
Beauvallet. I hadn’t read it for years and I loved it. She wrote it while living in Macedonia which seems amazing to me. I know she was able to have books sent out from the London Library but even so, the ring of authenticity is remarkable and even her minor characters live on the page.You almost feel as though she’d met Sir Francis Drake and he’s only in the book for about two pages. Sure, it’s a swashbuckler, but it’s a compelling read. I still don’t know how she did it.
6. Which of her books have you read the most often?
Friday’s Child, Cotillion, Venetia, Black Sheep, Sprig Muslin, The Talisman Ring, Sylvester, The Foundling, A Civil Contract.
7. Which, if any, would you never read again?
My Lord John.
8. If you could be a Heyer heroine, which would you choose?
Anthea Darracott because then I could marry Hugo. If he’s not available then I’ll be Kitty and marry Freddy. They’re the ones I’d choose, but the heroine I most relate to is Jenny Chawleigh.
9. Which Heyer hero (or heroine) would make the best husband/wife/partner?
Hugo Darracott — such a great sense of humour and so brilliant in a crisis!
How has Georgete Heyer influenced your life?
Wow! Where do I begin? She’s brought me friends and adventures and experiences I could never have dreamed of. She’s lightened my dark moments and made me laugh. She’s influenced my writing and my reading and inspired me in so many ways. It’s because of Heyer I’m a published author. It’s because of Heyer I earned a PhD. It’s because of Heyer I’ve travelled to the UK and the USA and New Zealand and to Italy and all over Australia to speak about her books and writing. It’s because of Heyer that I’ve had some of the most incredible moments in the British Library and in the archives and in universities and in her homes and the places she loved to visit. I’ve been to wonderful places and seen extraordinary things and met amazing people – all because of Georgette Heyer. I feel so privileged, so lucky and so blessed because of her books.
Jennifer Kloester first read Georgette Heyer’s novels while living in the jungle in Papua New Guinea and re-read them while living in the desert in Bahrain. In 2004, she completed a Doctorate on Georgette Heyer and her Regency Novels. Since then she has written extensively about Heyer and the Regency and has given writing workshops and public presentations in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand. She is the author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller. Jennifer also writes fiction; her novel Jane Austen’s Ghost will be available in 2019.