Member Profile: Paul Bethel

In which we get to know our members a little better…

Name: Paul Bethel (aka Beth Andrews)
Nationality: Bahamian

How old were you when you read your first Georgette Heyer novel?

About 15, I think.

What was it?

The Nonesuch.

How did you discover her work?

By accident. My mother and sister traded romance novels (mostly old Mills & Boon) with a few friends, and they had a box full of books from one of them. Digging through it one summer, looking for something to kill time, I came across one by this author I’d never heard of. . . . and the rest, as they say, is Regency History.

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

I read a few Regencies, but only one or two have I ever found to be “keepers.” I went from Heyer to Austen without skipping a beat–and became a completely infatuated Janeite. I was really into Agatha Christie at the time, and found my way to Heyer’s mysteries that way. I confess I’ve never read her contemporary novels. I also went from Austen to Thomas Love Peacock and Samuel Johnson, which shows the very peculiar turn of my own mind.

Which of her books have you read the most often?

Probably Arabella, Devil’s Cub, Faro’s Daughter, Frederica and Beauvallet. And did I mention The Talisman Ring? I always read GH when I’m feeling low–or when I’m in bed with a bad cold. Perks me up every time!

Which, if any, would you never read again?

Several, actually. Royal Escape, My Lord John and The Spanish Bride. The first I never even finished. The last contained too many unnecessary details, which caused the story to drag. Having once been on the editorial staff of a local newspaper, I always longed to take a red pencil to it!  I also don’t care for False Colours, but only because I dislike tales of identical twins (one of my many idiosyncrasies).

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

Really? If I could choose to be a hero, it would probably be Freddy from Cotillion. He reminds me of myself–though I’m not quite so much of a sapskull (I think). He’s kind and wonderfully unromantic. That also goes for the heroine I’d be, if possible: Drusilla Morville.

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

I’ve always had a sneaking regard for Sir Gareth in Sprig Muslin. A true gentleman with real grace and charm; and  as for Lady Hester . . . well, no heroine was ever more deserving of a Happy Ending. I’m sure either Ancilla or Sir Waldo would be a great partner for anyone as well.

How has Georgette Heyer influenced your life?

Well, I write Regency romance novels and short stories (very badly, though I would not wish my publishers to become aware of that fact)–so obviously she has had a profound influence on me in that way. But I think it was she who first taught me that a book could be “serious” and yet wonderfully funny. That has influenced both my reading and writing ever since.

Paul Bethel, aka Beth Andrews