Member Profile: “Lady Elizabeth Alastair”

In which we get to know our members a little better… though, in this case, we do not get to know the member’s name.

Name: I think I will promote myself to the aristocracy and join one of Georgette’s most loved families; I will be Lady Elizabeth Alastair.
Nationality: I am actually Australian, which means that in Regency times I would certainly have been a laundry woman or some such lowly occupation.

How old were you when you read your first Georgette Heyer novel? What was it? How did you discover her work?

My aunt is a huge Georgette Heyer fan.  How appropriate, when Georgette Heyer is so fond of a good aunt in her stories! My non fictional aunt suggested I try the novels with a heroine I might identify with, mainly young, as I was around eleven or twelve at the time.  I started with Arabella, Friday’s Child and The Convenient Marriage and I was hooked!  Lately it has given me much pleasure to slowly replace my aunts Heyer collection over many Christmases and birthdays as her copies – those lurid ’60’s paperbacks! – had been literally read to pieces.

Did Heyer lead you to read other authors in similar genres?

Yes! Historical fiction remains one of my favourites. I have also read a LOT of Regency romances. Stephanie Laurens, Julia Quinn, Julia London, Eloisa James, Liz Carlyle, Julie Anne Long and Anne Gracie I have all found to be fun reads. I would particularly recommend Jude Morgan’s Indiscretion as being nearly as good as the real thing (i.e. Georgette). I find Barbara Cartland’s novels so awful they literally give me a stomach ache. Also am I the only one who can hardly believe that “whipster” Julia Quinn gets a television series (and maybe another seven to follow) whereas Georgette the nonpareil is overlooked? “That will be the sex”, I hear you say, “Georgette Heyer doesn’t have any – well not explicit anyway.” True, of course, but neither does Jane Austen have explicit sex and it never seems to do her adaptions any harm.

I do enjoy the section of your circular with the book recommendations, I have been trying a few of them out.

Which of her books have you read the most often?

Well I still like the heroines I most identify with, and as I get older these have changed.  I do love the “too tall”  Sophy Stanton-Lacy (The Grand Sophy), “managing female” Frederica Merriville (Frederica), “independent” Ancilla Trent (The Nonesuch) and “plain and practical” Jenny Chawleigh (A Civil Contract).  These are the ones I return to most often.

Which, if any, would you never read again?

I have read two of her contemporary novels, Instead of the Thorn and Pastel, and I really don’t need to read them again.

If you could be a Heyer heroine, which would you choose?

Oh that is a difficult one. Of course there are definite bonuses to the lives they would lead of privilege and plenty, with servants to do all the mundane chores! Maybe Ancilla Trent, who was so unashamed of being independent and intelligent even though she was female, and she would also have the opportunity to interest herself in worthwhile charitable schemes.

Which Heyer hero (or heroine) would make the best husband/wife/partner?

There was a vote on this at the Heyer convention in Sydney in 2019.  I voted for Freddy Standen and I think I still would.

How has Georgette Heyer influenced your life?

I think that starting so young on her novels gave me some ideas about men, marriage and relationships that proved to be somewhat …… unrealistic?  I survived though! I am a confirmed Anglophile with London always top of the list as an overseas destination and I believe that is down to Georgette Heyer’s novels.