ON-DITS

Heyer for Beginners #1 — Introduction

Damn you, Gregory!

Hello, my name is Maura, and for decades I completely discounted historical romance as a genre. The very thought of historical fiction in any form, in fact, simply made me roll my eyes in distaste. I didn’t read it, I didn’t watch it, I didn’t like it. I preferred my fiction to be honest in its pretenses, and the strange hybrid of reality and fantasy that most historical fiction seems to aspire to just felt silly to me. For this I blame Philippa Gregory. I read The Other Boleyn Girl and I despised books of its kind from then on.

For me, Contemporary Fiction was a far worthier pursuit for study and leisure, because it echoes the eras in which it was written and gives us a window into the thoughts of those alive at the time. Jane Austen, the Brontës, George Sand, Thomas Hardy, Evelyn Waugh, Henry James. They all gave us fiction that is set in the past but was written in their present, and to me that has always been a much more interesting, and certainly more revealing, thing to read than anything invented by a writer looking back on an earlier period with longing, or revulsion, or rose-colored glasses. To me, historical fiction is invention. Contemporary fiction was – and remains – living history.

As a lifelong (perhaps too long) student of contemporary literature, with several degrees from major universities around the world, it has been my purpose to tease from the annals of fiction evidence of fact, and thereby come to understand the cultural precepts, biases and assumed knowledge that so heavily influenced every facet of life in previous eras, across the world. From the reading of Ancient Greek sagas to Middle Ages polemics to florid Renaissance romances and through to the present day, nothing is so revealing to me – to us all – than the stories that are shaped by the time, place and attitudes in which they were both written and set.

But after reading Georgette Heyer’s contemporary novels Barren Corn, Helen, Pastel and Instead of the Thorn for the essay collection Heyer Society, at the very strong suggestion of that book’s editor, and then rocketing through her detective fiction at breakneck speed (thank you, Madeline Paschen, for your essay in Heyer Society explaining what the hell was going on with Penhallow – I was confused and alarmed), I have to say that I found myself wavering on my non-historical stance. I was just so damned impressed with Heyer’s use of language, her clever characterization and her gift for dialog that I was suddenly willing to, if not embrace historical fiction as a whole, at least give Georgette Heyer’s brand of it a try.

So, taking them in order of publication, I read through each Heyer historical novel at what can only be called breakneck speed, and here I present to you – presumably, the Heyer knowledgeable – my thoughts. I hope you will indulge me as I navigate my way through this unchartered territory, and come out on the other side changed forever.

– Maura Tan
Singapore, 2020

Maura Tan was born in Zanzibar, grew up in Morocco and lives in Singapore, where she is currently studying for her third degree in Contemporary Literature.

Reading Heyer: The Black Moth: Epilogue

In which we serialize Society Patroness Rachel Hyland’s first book in her Reading Heyer series, Reading Heyer: The Black Moth. Called “delicious” by Heyer expert Jennifer Kloester, it is a reading guide, critique and loving homage all in one. But mostly, it’s just a lot of fun. We hope you enjoy. Check back every Sunday for another installment, or buy the book here.

ALL CHAPTERS

EPILOGUE

Tracy receives a letter. It is from his sister Lavinia, and filled with news from home (Tracy is abroad, you see). Jack and Diana are married, and while Lavinia’s vanity is threatened by the new bride’s loveliness, she seems resigned to the competition her new sister-in-law poses for the admiration of London’s gentlemen. She and Dick are, embarrassingly, very much in love, as are Jack and Diana—she hopes to “sett Fashion”—and also people hardly even care that it was Dick who cheated at cards all those years ago, and not Jack at all. So much angst over it, and for nothing! Isn’t that always the way?

Tracy passes the letter to his friend, Frank Fortescue (remember Frank Fortescue? We love Frank Fortescue!), and puts on a brave face, saying that when he returns to London he hopes to greet the Countess of Wyncham with every sign of indifference. Frank is concerned: Tracy’s not planning on, like, abducting her again, is he? But no, Tracy would never do such a thing! He loves her too well, you see. (Unlike the other two times he kidnapped her.)

Frank is positively Molly-like in his told you so-ing, reminding Tracy of how: “I once told you, when love came you would count yourself as nought, and her happiness as everything.” Which is a lovely sentiment, but it is Tracy, of course, who gets the last word, passing off this deep piece of wisdom with a quip and leaving us with a smile on our faces as our story comes to a close, despite all of his wrongdoing in the preceding chapters.

“How very pleasant it must be, Frank, to have one’s prophecies so happily verified!” he purred. “Allow me to felicitate you!”

THOUGHTS

Damn it, Tracy. Damn it all.


The final chapter of Reading Heyer: The Black Moth will be posted here at Heyer Society next Sunday. Or buy it here.

 

Reading Heyer: The Black Moth: Chapter XXIX

In which we serialize Society Patroness Rachel Hyland’s first book in her Reading Heyer series, Reading Heyer: The Black Moth. Called “delicious” by Heyer expert Jennifer Kloester, it is a reading guide, critique and loving homage all in one. But mostly, it’s just a lot of fun. We hope you enjoy. Check back every Sunday for another installment, or buy the book here.

ALL CHAPTERS

CHAPTER XXIX: LADY O’HARA IS TRIUMPHANT

We kick off with the chapter-eponymous Lady O’Hara, who has spent a fretful night wondering what has become of Diana, Jack and her husband, Miles. Also fretful is Jack’s faithful servant, Jim Salter, who is convinced that ill has befallen his beloved master and companions. Molly looks to him for comfort in this time of need, but all Jim can say, ominously, when she talks herself out of her doldrums and begins to think it has probably all come off alright—especially as Jack is such a famous swordsman—is: “Your ladyship forgets his wound.” Heh.

It is perhaps lucky for him that a carriage bearing Jack and Miles arrives just then, and into Molly’s ecstatic ears is poured the tale of Jack’s daring rescue of, and then engagement to, Diana. Apparently, Mr. Beauleigh’s permission was indeed sought on the occasion, and it turns out that he was way more accommodating of Lord Wyncham’s desire to wed his daughter than he was of Mr. Carr’s similar one, even though they are both the same person and both are former highwaymen. Shocking. Molly, of course, is giddy with relief and delight at this totally unexpected turn of events—what? Diana didn’t get defiled? Huzzah!—and claims all the credit for it, because if she hadn’t passive-aggressively insisted that Jack stay with the O’Haras after departing Littledean, then hey, who knows what might have happened?

(If we’re using that logic, of course, then Jack and Diana’s Happily Ever After is, in fact, due to Dick and his card cheatiness. Or even to Tracy, who manipulated Jack into taking the fall for it. Ha! Talk about hoist on your own petard.)

Then all that is left is for Jack and the faithful Jim to have a chat—yes, Jack’s a lord; yes, he still wants Jim to work for him; yes, Jim can still call him “sir,” Jack’s egalitarian like that—and then for the latter to dress the former in what sounds like a stunning outfit of rose with silver lacing, and a “cream–very pale cream waistcoat, broidered in with rose.”

Who says real men don’t wear pink?

THOUGHTS

It is with a bittersweet sense of satisfaction that I come to the end of this quite mammoth examination of The Black Moth—but then, that is not an unusual emotion for me, when concluding a Georgette Heyer novel. Because on the one hand, each Happily Ever After has been lovingly crafted and is usually well-deserved by our often clueless protagonists, and we all want to get to it, but on the other hand, who would ever want a Georgette Heyer novel to come to an end? (Well, okay…maybe Cousin Kate.) They are simply too much fun.

And this one, her first, was still as enjoyable for me on the—I estimate – twentieth reread as it was the very first time I pulled it down from my mother’s bookshelves. Perhaps even more so, because I get to share it with my fellow Heyerites, who know as well as I the genius of our author, and know that while I may occasionally have pointed a little fun throughout these pages, it is all coming from a place of very deep love.

The closing chapters of The Black Moth, from the excitement of Jack’s daring rescue of his lady to the farce of him then sharing a jovial dinner with her dastardly kidnapper, epitomize all that Heyer would later become known for; they are exciting, well-plotted, romantic and with a deep devotion to historical detail. (Well, okay… again, maybe not Cousin Kate). Above all, they are witty, her dialogue singing to us, even in the most archaic of the dialects that she so skillfully employs.

And as our Jack and Diana at last find themselves free to marry (two Georgian kids becomin’ the Earl and Countess of Wyncham… sorry, just once last Mellencamp reference for the road), as the ever-foolish Dick and Lavinia feel once again the lovelight shine in their long-wed eyes, as even Jim Salter is set to get hitched, by permission of his lordship (“Marry that nice girl at Fittering, and she shall maid my lady,” abjured Jack to his faithful valet; it is to be assumed the nice girl at Fittering will have no objections to this plan), and as the villainous Tracy comes to at last realize that perhaps kidnap and rape are not the way to go about attaining lasting happiness, all that is left for us to do is marvel at this outstanding debut novel by its then teenaged author.

Oh, and there is also the Epilogue…


The final chapter of Reading Heyer: The Black Moth will be posted here at Heyer Society next Sunday. Or buy it here.

 

Reading Heyer: The Black Moth: Chapter XXVIII

In which we serialize Society Patroness Rachel Hyland’s first book in her Reading Heyer series, Reading Heyer: The Black Moth. Called “delicious” by Heyer expert Jennifer Kloester, it is a reading guide, critique and loving homage all in one. But mostly, it’s just a lot of fun. We hope you enjoy. Check back every Sunday for another installment, or buy the book here.

ALL CHAPTERS

CHAPTER XXVIII: IN WHICH WHAT THREATENED TO BE TRAGEDY TURNS TO COMEDY

Diana flies to Jack’s unconscious side, where she must compete with Dick for the right to furrow her brow and sigh forlornly at the head of her fallen champion. Diana demands Cognac—for her patient, one assumes; paging Dr. Diana!—and Dick pronounces Jack not dead, only sleeping. The two interested parties then make one another’s most informal acquaintance, and the one informs the other that the man lying on the floor in front of them has also been lying in a different way, as well: he’s no mere Mr. Carr, but my lord, John Carstares, Earl of Wyncham. “Good-gracious!” exclaims Diana, clearly quite overcome. Meanwhile, Tracy, our defeated, much bedeviled Duke, demands an explanation as to Andrew and Dick’s presence; the quality of Jack’s swordplay is marveled at—Andrew taking an almost devilish glee in seeing his brother nearly mortally wounded; and then just as the otherwise omniscient Tracy comes finally to realize that Jack and the object of his erstwhile affection are In Love, in saunters our old friend Miles O’Hara.

After tenderly caring for the laid-low Earl, he grills Diana about her treatment at the hands of the infamous rapist that is the Duke of Andover (or, at the least, he asks, with a significant glance, we assume: “Ye are quite safe, child?”; so delicate, Miles!), and he has only just begun glaring at Dick, long-ago card cheat that he is, when Jack finally begins to come around… and then Diana kisses him full on the lips!

Now is not the time for him to indulge in such intimacies, however; no, now is the time for him to declare himself perfectly well, take note of the other newcomers to the room since his lights went out—Lord Andrew and Miles—and Miles explains that his presence is all due to his clearly preternatural wife, who simply knew something was amiss at home and so had insisted they return from visiting friends, only to encounter Diana’s father, Mr. Beauleigh, setting out in search of his daughter.

But Molly’s supernatural abilities, impressive as they are (“She’s a witch! Burn her!”), are glossed over entirely as we move on to the most important part of the narrative. Not, of course, the arrival of the hardy constables who will take my lord Duke into custody for kidnapping and attempted rape. Not, of course, the arrival of an incensed Mr. Beauleigh, demanding honor be satisfied. (Of Mr. Beauleigh, actually, there is no sign, he being just the kind of man who would happily allow another to rescue his abducted progeny, and so has left it all in the hands of O’Hara, whom he hardly even knows. Show of hands: who kind of hates Mr. Beauleigh?) Instead, we get the revelation that it was Dick who so long ago cheated at cards and thus got his brother exiled from Polite Society pre-novel, the young jackanapes!

Now, let’s do a quick headcount of the room. Dick: already knew. Jack: already knew. Tracy: already knew. O’Hara: already knew. Diana: didn’t really know, but neither did she care. So, basically the only person to whom this would come as anything close to a surprise was Lord Andrew Belmanoir, a young man whom we have seen perhaps five times in the book and who, much like Diana, couldn’t really have cared less—especially as he has been living on Dick’s money for most of his adult life.

Wow, Dick. Way to man up.

And then wow, Tracy, way to steal the scene again! Sure, there may have been confessions made and masquerades revealed and lovers, brothers and friends reunited—as well as a duel to the death and several attempts at “forcible seduction”—made this night, but, reasons Tracy, that doesn’t mean they can’t all share a meal together. “Andrew, tell them to lay covers for five in the dining-room,” he says suavely, and delivers himself of a few choice words: he dislikes bad tragedy; he trusts no one will speak of this, in order to keep Diana’s name free of blemish—who, let us recall, is currently without a chaperone in a house full of gentlemen; how he wishes he had finished off Jack the first time they met at sword point over the contentious issue of Diana’s virtue; and the hope that after this night she will keep away from him as much as possible. (What, ’cause otherwise she would have been forever sending him friend requests?)

Then Diana takes herself off to bed, the guys all sit down to what appears to be a most convivial dinner party, and on the whole, the threatened tragedy does indeed turn out to be sparkling comedy of the very first water. (Well done again, chapter title, for being so very spot-on!)

Later that night: Dick. Jack. Alone in the night. It was a simpler time, when platonic male affection was expressed in very tender, almost romantical, ways: Dick “devoured every detail of the loved countenance and watched each movement of the slender hand”; Jack protests: “Devil take it, Dick, we’re as shy as two schoolboys!” But before long the brothers are utterly at ease, bandying back and forth, and apparently Dick is to be let off the hook for the past eight years of his brother’s exile and straitened circumstances.

And strangely, that actually feels okay. We totally like Dick now. Huh.

Next morning, Jack sets off to marry Diana with O’Hara by his side (presumably he will stop in at Littledean to tell Mr. Beauleigh, though it’s not like we even care what that Father of the Year thinks), but before he goes he tasks Dick with the onerous duty of tracking down one Mr. Chilter – remember our helpful “spider man” from way back in Chapter II? – and wrest him from the hands of that uncouth city merchant, Fudby, whom we all of us disliked from the outset.

Nice callback, that.

THOUGHTS

Damn it, Tracy. Stop being cool. You are a terrible person. Truly, Tracy “Devil” Belmanoir, Duke of Andover, is the anti-hero to whom all other attempts at such should be compared.

Or, to quote the great Miles O’Hara: “Oh, sink me an I ever came across a more amusing villain!”


New chapters of Reading Heyer: The Black Moth will be posted here at Heyer Society each Sunday. Or buy it here.

 

Reading Heyer: The Black Moth: Chapter XXVII

In which we serialize Society Patroness Rachel Hyland’s first book in her Reading Heyer series, Reading Heyer: The Black Moth. Called “delicious” by Heyer expert Jennifer Kloester, it is a reading guide, critique and loving homage all in one. But mostly, it’s just a lot of fun. We hope you enjoy. Check back every Sunday for another installment, or buy the book here.

ALL CHAPTERS

CHAPTER XXVII: MY LORD ENTERS BY THE WINDOW

… we arrive back at the plot. The Duke has just professed his love – such as it is – to Diana and has made free with all kinds of not-so-veiled threats about what will happen to her should she not submit to his will at this juncture. He pretty much says that she can either be raped as his wife or raped as his captive, it really is all the same to him, and he is just setting this fine plan into action when my lord does indeed, as the chapter title promises, arrive quite spectacularly through the window, putting a stop to all such liberties and astonishing Tracy not only with his arrival, but with his possession of the sword lost the last time Diana’s dishonor had been prevented.

Then: a duel!

It’s all very breathless and vaguely technical, all parries and ripostes, lots of quarte and yet more tierce, but one doesn’t have to be an expert in fencing to understand the flurry of these two skilled rapiers, nor get caught up in the peril of their deadly dance. Jack, of course, is still recovering from having been shot in the shoulder by Tracy not that long ago, and so finds himself tiring and even has his old injury deliberately reopened by his decidedly unsportsmanlike opponent – it’s all very Cobra Kai, shame on him. Honor might then appear to have been satisfied, but no, Jack wants to see Devil dead, and so they fight on, Diana apparently forgotten and utterly useless in this situation: that’s right, best leave all the action to the menfolk, child.

Then the doorbell sounds and Di at last has a purpose again; she bangs on the door of the room in which she was being held – it was locked, of course, all the better that she might not escape from the man who claimed to love her – and begs for whomever is on the other side to break it down. They do, and it is none other than Lord Andrew and Dick (hi, guys!) each of them brother to one of the duel’s combatants and both as startled as the next in discovering a fight to the death going on in front of their eyes. Andrew just had time to recognize Jack, and Jack just had time to recognize Dick, before loss of blood and exhaustion proved too much and – once again; really, it does seem to be something of a habit with him – Jack crumples to the floor in a faint.

THOUGHTS

First up, the perfidy of Devil Belmanoir, and everyone’s apparent coolness with this. Diana’s father, riding to seek Jack’s aid in his daughter’s rescue, wonders in desperation at Jack’s promise to reach Diana that night. 

“You know where he has taken her? You do? You are sure?”

“Back to his earth, I’ll lay my life; ’tis ever his custom.”

So, it is the custom of the Duke of Andover, when abducting young women of virtue for his own purposes, to take them back to his palatial home, there to have his wicked way with them as he pleases… until, it is to be assumed, he tires of their charms and seeks out a fresh candidate for his unwanted attentions. It is “his custom,” it is his known modus operandi, and yet the man is still wandering around free and has not, it seems, faced any kind of consequences for what, to a modern audience, feels like a series of vicious and unforgiveable crimes. How horrifying, this idea that the aristocracy were so completely above the law… or even that perhaps the kidnap and rape of assorted comely young women wasn’t against the law at all.

Oh, I still pine for some of the graces of this earlier time, the aforementioned words and hand-kisses, and I’d be all over the return of the courtly bow, but at least nowadays Tracy would have been held to account for his villainy, Duke or no, and had some kind of limits placed on his freedom, including how many feet he had to stay away from any young ladies’ seminary. (Yes, I know that even now wealth and rank have their privileges, and that justice isn’t always served. But I am pretty sure that, at the very least, he’d be on the Sex Offender Registry.)

Onto happier topics: let us discuss sword fighting and how, out of all the military arts, it seems to be the one best suited to literary endeavor. Oh, I am a big reader of science fiction, which often entails a lot of space battles and powered armor-clad Marines taking on aliens with futuristic laser beams and such – and I love that – but there is just something so engrossing about a well-described duel fought with dress swords… and if there is one thing Georgette Heyer always did impeccably, it was describe things well.

(By the way, it’s a bit rough when sword fighting is accounted to be the happier topic, isn’t it? But what can I say? Thinking too much on the implications of Tracy’s true devilishness is just really, really upsetting.)

However, with Diana surely rescued from a fate worse than death and Jack once again fainting comically to the floor, hopefully we can now look forward to much less harrowing contemplation. And could a Happily Ever After be at last coming our way?


New chapters of Reading Heyer: The Black Moth will be posted here at Heyer Society each Sunday. Or buy it here.

 

Reading Heyer: The Black Moth: Chapter XXVI

In which we serialize Society Patroness Rachel Hyland’s first book in her Reading Heyer series, Reading Heyer: The Black Moth. Called “delicious” by Heyer expert Jennifer Kloester, it is a reading guide, critique and loving homage all in one. But mostly, it’s just a lot of fun. We hope you enjoy. Check back every Sunday for another installment, or buy the book here.

ALL CHAPTERS

CHAPTER XXIV: MY LORD RIDES TO FRUSTRATE HIS GRACE

Bored and hungry, Jack takes his leisure at the O’Hara’s house, with Miles and Molly (hey, isn’t that a sitcom?) out visiting friends. He is not leisurely for long, however, as a very agitated Mr. Beauleigh soon arrives to inform him that Diana has disappeared, her horse returning home with a note telling him that she has been spirited away by the very same Mr. Everard whose abduction attempt Jack had previously thwarted. Learning that Everard is, in fact, the Duke of Andover, Mr. Beauleigh is understandably overcome, and visions of this brilliant match dance happily in his head until Jack points out that the Duke of Andover and the infamous Devil Belmanoir are one and the same.

Tracy’s reputation is dark indeed (and deservedly so, as we know now), for no sooner does he learn of that than Beauleigh begs Jack to help rescue poor Diana again – as though he need be asked. He orders Jenny saddled, has Miles’s carriage brought round for his would-be father-in-law, and gallops hell for leather to Andover Court, where he is sure Tracy will have taken his captive.

Much follows about the journey, about Jenny the Wonder Horse as she covers the miles swiftly and with awesome grace and dexterity (but then, ha! She stumbles; not such a Wonder Horse after all, it seems) and about Jack’s love of, and fear for, his beloved. And then…


New chapters of Reading Heyer: The Black Moth will be posted here at Heyer Society each Sunday. Or buy it here.

 

POLL: Favourite Heyer Runaway (Male Edition)?

It is at first rather surprising, when you realize just how many of Georgette Heyer’s novels revolve around — at least involve — the idea of someone or other running away from something or other. But then you think about it and you realize that in the regimented society in which she lays most of her scenes, you would probably want to run away, too. Especially from all of those arranged and/or distasteful proposed marriages.

Last week, we covered those intrepid females who ran for freedom; here, we ask: whom is your favourite of Heyer’s male runaways? (It should be noted that, unlike their female counterparts, oftentimes these men are running from the law.)

Vote now! 

Favorite Heyer Runaway (Male Edition)?
18 votes

ALL POLLS

 

 

Reading Heyer: The Black Moth: Chapter XXV

In which we serialize Society Patroness Rachel Hyland’s first book in her Reading Heyer series, Reading Heyer: The Black Moth. Called “delicious” by Heyer expert Jennifer Kloester, it is a reading guide, critique and loving homage all in one. But mostly, it’s just a lot of fun. We hope you enjoy. Check back every Sunday for another installment, or buy the book here.

ALL CHAPTERS

CHAPTER XXV: HIS GRACE OF ANDOVER CAPTURES THE QUEEN

Remember Harper, his Grace’s groom tasked with inveigling himself into the Beauleigh’s service? It is here that his purpose in doing so is at last realized, when he accompanies Diana on a ride through the countryside in search of some fictional berries and instead leads her right into the waiting arms of her would-be husband’s none-too-gentle goons.

Given into Tracy’s iron-willed company, Diana learns that he is not the mere Mr. Everard she had thought him at Bath but the Duke of Andover, though if he hoped for her to be overcome by this news and fall at his feet – or coronet – then he can only have been disappointed. She, we know, loves Jack to distraction and yet has no idea of his true peer-of-the-realm status, and so obviously she is not the kind of girl to be swayed by such worldly considerations as potentially becoming a Duchess. The two exchange the kind of barbs that surely cannot have Tracy feeling particularly sanguine about their happy future together, and yet he persists in his admiration of her and continues to terrify his lady love with threats of their impending, inevitable union. She is defiant, all “I’ll never say yes!” and good on her, but Tracy makes with the coldness and drawls things like “Wait. I think you will be glad to marry me–in the end,” which are enough to send shivers of dread down her (and our) spines, and really make one admire the poise with which she tackles this most uncomfortable situation. 

Tracy, for all his suavity and cunning wit, really is a villain and a cur, and at no point has he been more hateful than he is right now.

THOUGHTS

Tracy is such a douche. As exemplified by this, coming after he has abducted Diana:

He was enjoying her as he had rarely enjoyed a woman before. Others had sobbed and implored, railed and raved; he had never till now met one who returned him word for word, using his own weapons against him.

This passage disturbs me no end. “Others had sobbed and implored, railed and raved…” Okay, we knew that he was certainly no saint, and it has been borne in upon us more than once that he had often been known to run off with some serving wench or farmer’s daughter and have his wicked way with her, but somehow implicit in all of that—for me, at least, and I realize now that it was merely wishful thinking—was the idea that these girls had consented. Like, maybe he had lied to them and promised them marriage when all he was after was a bit on the side, Willoughby-style. That, of course, was bad enough to make Tracy questionable even as an anti-hero; throw in the sobbing and imploring, the railing and raving, and clearly, for all that I have been wanting to give him as much benefit of the doubt as I could, the Duke is indeed the serial rapist I had feared him, the likes of which someone like Patrick Jane or Seely Booth would earnestly hunt down and bring to justice. Hey, for all we know, he’s a serial killer, too. I mean, what happened to all of those dishonored, deflowered girls, huh? Does no one even care?

No wonder he’s known as “Devil.”

At least Diana got a few good shots in past his reserved superiority, including this one, which is perhaps quite my favorite of all the things she has said in this novel:

“My name is Tracy,” he remarked.

 She considered it with her head tilted to one side.

 “I do not like your name, sir,” she answered.

 “There was no thought of pleasing you when I was christened.” he quoted lazily.

 “Hardly, sir,” she said. “You might be my father.”

Nice one, Di! Or, as the Duke says: “Merci du compliment, mademoiselle! I admire your wit.” Aw, isn’t that lovely. He admires her wit! No wonder he wants to rape her.

But surely the Duke will not succeed in his dark design? Jack will come to Diana’s rescue, right? And, hey, how is Jack? We’re getting close to the thrilling conclusion now… Right?


New chapters of Reading Heyer: The Black Moth will be posted here at Heyer Society each Sunday. Or buy it here.

 

POLL: Favourite Heyer Runaway (Female Edition)?

It is at first rather surprising, when you realize just how many of Georgette Heyer’s novels revolve around — at least involve — the idea of someone or other running away from something or other. But then you think about it and you realize that in the regimented society in which she lays most of her scenes, you would probably want to run away, too. Especially from all of those arranged and/or distasteful proposed marriages.

Here, we ask: whom is your favourite runaway out of Heyer? Females only are covered this time; we will look at those rapscallion runaway gentlemen next week.

Vote now! 

And Happy New Year, from all of us here at the International Heyer Society!

Favorite Heyer Runaway (Female Edition)?
28 votes

ALL POLLS

 

 

Reading Heyer: The Black Moth: Chapter XXIV

In which we serialize Society Patroness Rachel Hyland’s first book in her Reading Heyer series, Reading Heyer: The Black Moth. Called “delicious” by Heyer expert Jennifer Kloester, it is a reading guide, critique and loving homage all in one. But mostly, it’s just a lot of fun. We hope you enjoy. Check back every Sunday for another installment, or buy the book here.

ALL CHAPTERS

CHAPTER XXIV: RICHARD PLAYS THE MAN

Silly Lavinia! Foolish Dicky! There they sit, both married to the love of their entitled lives, and yet both have been plunged into the depths of despair by misunderstandings and jealousies enough to fuel several seasons of any given soap opera. Lavinia contemplates her coming elopement with the smitten Captain Lovelace and sighs; Dick contemplates the same thing and is resigned but despondent. You’ll only really understand just how depressed they both are at this juncture with the news that neither could even touch their morning hot chocolate!

Yes, it’s just that serious.

Longing to see his beloved just One. Last. Time. (and we thought Lavinia to be the only master of melodrama in that family) he trumps up an excuse to visit her in her bedchamber – dude even knocks; imagine, your partner standing on such ceremony with you in your shared home – and is so overcome with her general adorableness that he suddenly realizes He. Will. Not. Have. It. He cannot let her run away from him; he can’t live without her!

“By God, you shall not!” he cries, and then she’s all “Please, please forgive me and let me stay with you!” and their reconciliation is covered over with a paragraph or two, all made well with copious amounts of tears and declarations of undying love and the occasional decorous kiss. Dick’s Jack-based fascination for Mrs. Fanshawe is thoroughly explained, as is that worthy’s determination to Do the Right Thing after all this time and clear his maligned brother’s name. Lavinia – who, you may remember, was so put out at the very suggestion that she threatened to leave him – is seemingly now reconciled to her inevitable disgrace, the luckless Lovelace jilted abruptly as he is no longer needed in the plot.

Lovelace, it turns out, is even more to be pitied, since even as this charming scene is being enacted, Lavinia’s Machiavellian brother Tracy pays a visit to “a certain Colonel Shepherd” and thereby has the fatally charming Captain reassigned to parts unknown. He brings this news to a Dick whom he finds in excellent spirits, and the Duke seems almost impressed with his despised brother-in-law’s moxie in having thwarted the sorry affair without him.

Elsewhere, the gentlemen of the town are in a flivver over Dick’s summons to Wyncham and what he could possibly want to see them all about – and really, this is quite troublesome of Dick, isn’t it? He means to Confess All and Beg Pardon for his dastardly, cheaterly actions seven years earlier and yet he has the gall to bid the interested parties to attend his declaration of guilt out in the country, foregoing any other engagements and costing his guests time and money and generally just making a pest out himself. Basically, his Big Reveal is a destination wedding, and one to which Tracy now RSVPs a big, fat “Cannot Attend” as he has less exculpatory, more kidnap-and-rapey things to be doing that day.

Soon after, Dick is visited by that worthy Mr. Warburton of whom we have seen naught since the book’s opening chapters, but who is the steward of all Wynchamish happenings and who has been scouring the country looking for Jack at Dick’s behest… but of whom he has been able to discover no sign. Dick frets over his brother even as he heads out to make a clean breast of it all, his travelling carriage containing not only himself and his guilt but Lord Andrew Belmanoir, en route to his family estates… And why should he not pay them a visit? Surely Tracy wouldn’t be about to use them for any nefarious purposes?

Would he?

THOUGHTS

I will brush over our tortured beta couple’s marital bliss with only a passing comment on this passage, coming after Lavinia has discovered that Mrs. Fanshawe holds no fascination for her husband:

“My poor love! Why, ’tis the kindest lady imaginable, but as to loving her—!” He kissed her hand lingeringly. “I love–and have always loved–a far different being: a naughty, wilful, captivating little person, who—”

Lady Lavinia clasped her arms about his neck.

“You make me feel so very, very dreadful! I have indeed been naughty–I—”

“And you’ll be so many times again,” he told her, laughing.

“No, no! I–will–try to be good!”

“I do not want you good!” Richard assured her. “I want you to be your own dear self!”

On the surface, this is quite simply a funny thing for Dick to say. As backhanded compliments go, it’s pretty awesome; the “I don’t want a pretty girl, I want you” kind of thing. But on a deeper level, this is just so accepting of Dick; he loves his petulant, high maintenance wife just as she is, and even after more than half a decade of marriage he finds all her foibles and flaws endearing—which may be helped by the fact that she is, by all accounts, superhot, but is nevertheless really very sweet.


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