ON-DITS

Rating the Covers: Arabella (Sourcebooks, 2018)

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These flowery, viney “Signature Collection” covers from Sourcebooks are puzzling. So, the pocket watch is Beaumaris? And the gloves and perfume Arabella? The only thing that makes sense is Ulysses, who is rather more groomed than one might expect, but at least is actually important to the story. C+

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POLL: Best Alastair-Audley Book?

Unlike many writers in the genre today, Georgette Heyer didn’t really go in for series among her historical romance novels. Most stand alone entirely, with the exception of the Alastair-Audley sequence of four books, following the doings of the Alastair clan from Georgian times through to the Battle of Waterloo, and the Audley and Taverner families in the Regency. But which of these four is the best of the bunch, do you think? Vote and let us know! 

Best Alastair/Audley Book?
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Heyer for Austenites: If You Love Emma

INTRODUCTION

The influence of Austen’s cleverest novel, Emma (1815), may be seen in several Heyer novels, including The Foundling¸ Lady of Quality, The Grand Sophy and The Unknown Ajax. Maria Farlow in Lady of Quality is undoubtedly Miss Bates’s literary descendant, while Sophy Stanton-Lacy in The Grand Sophy (1950) is every bit as managing as Austen’s Emma Woodhouse and far more successful in her schemes for the betterment of other people’s lives.

Gender-swapping the character, Hugo Darracott in The Unknown Ajax (1959) proves to be a brilliant manipulator in an emergency, but he is a far more subtle manager than Emma. It is in The Foundling (1948) that Heyer draws direct inspiration from Emma with her foolish orphan Belinda desperately in love with the Robert Martin-esque Mr Mudgley and causing problems for all who cross her path. Like Emma, Gilly, Duke of Sale, does his best to solve the difficulties of his nearest and dearest, and like Emma, he is thwarted at almost every turn.

Of course, Heyer’s story is very different from Austen’s, but it is highly entertaining read with enough Austen moments to delight the biggest fan.

CONCLUSION: If you love Emma, read The Grand Sophy and The Foundling.

NEXT WEEK: Northanger Abbey!


Which is your favourite Austen novel? Did you know there is a Georgette Heyer novel to match it in mood and spirit? Tune in next Monday for the next post in this new series by famed literary scholar Jennifer Kloester, author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and Jane Austen’s Ghost.

Reading Heyer: The Black Moth: Chapter XIX

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.

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CHAPTER XIX: THE REAPPEARANCE OF HIS GRACE OF ANDOVER

It is in this chapter that Dick’s animosity for Captain Lovelace kicks into high gear, and he gets so fed up with the fellow’s constant attentions to his wife – all perfectly above board, of course, but you know how Dicky is – that he finally snaps and orders her to have nothing more to do with the “puppy,” lest she become the talk of the town and he ship her off back to the much-dreaded Wyncham.

She’s all “how dare you, how dare you?” and he’s all “oh, I dare, lady, I’m your husband, and listen to me or else” but then later she’s all “oh, I’ll show him” and she allows Captain Lovelace and another guy into her bedchamber to watch her don her gown for the evening. (Yes… she let them watch her get dressed. It was a thing. A weird thing, but a thing nonetheless.)

Then she and her enormous powdered hairstyle get into her “gilded chair” (seriously, like what Roman emperors, or fantasy novel princesses, are carried around in) and are escorted to Devonshire House for the Duchess’s rout – no, it’s not the same Duchess that Keira Knightly played in that film, but the previous one. On the way, Dick proves himself to have at least one friend in the world, the “austere patrician” and “some years his senior” Sir John Fortescue, to whom he confesses his dislike of Captain Lovelace after Fortescue stigmatizes Harry as a “rake-hell”: for which read “inveterate gambler.” (Yeah, dude, we knew that already. Robert’s way ahead of you!)   

Oh, also, Sir John rather bizarrely lays this non sequitur on us: his brother Frank apparently went to meet a friend the day before and hasn’t been seen since. Now, who could that friend be…?

Meanwhile, the ball! There we see several (non-fictional) notables of the day – Lord March, Lord Selwyn, the Gunnings sisters – and Dick makes a new acquaintance, the fascinating little widow (or “a dainty piece,” as Lord Robert calls her; yeah, it’s becoming more and more obvious why everyone hates him, isn’t it?) Isabella Fanshawe, who likes her talk straight and her men Carstares-y, which we know because she recognizes in Dick’s face one “Anthony Ferndale” she had met in Vienna. Dick, after recovering from the shock, says as how he, too, knows the gentleman and is pretty much his biggest fan, to which Mrs. Fanshawe responds simply: “I do not think ever anyone knew him and was not, sir. It was something in his manner, his personality–I cannot explain–that endeared him to one.”

(There’s a shout out for you, Jack! Don’t think we’ve forgotten for a moment that you’re the hero of this piece!)

Dick then invites himself over to Mrs. Fanshawe’s for tea and Jack-talk at some later date (doubtless also serving up some sauce for the goose as he does so), while elsewhere in the ballroom Robert is again making a nuisance of himself, this time bringing displeasure to his newly returned elder brother Tracy.

Yes, as foretold in the chapter title, His Grace, the Duke of Andover is back! (In black… and silver. His signature colors, don’t you know.) Lavinia, of course, is in raptures to see her dear Devil again, and as Tracy’s BFF Frank Fortescue makes himself scarce (Dick’s best friend is Tracy’s best friend’s brother? Weird), she excitedly gets the d/l on all that transpired when this august peer of the realm sought to – say it with me – kidnap and rape someone. (You know what? Lavinia is like one of those women who fall for serial killers and become their “brides” or whatever. Mindhunters, where are you when we need you?)

But Tracy explains how his dread purpose was thwarted by some random sword-wielding hero whom he hopes has since died of his injuries (ha! Little do you know, Devil man!), and how he thereafter left for Paris, determined to forget his love of Diana. But Paris didn’t work! It just made it worse! And now he knows he’ll see her face again… when he kidnaps her for a second time, but with a difference, because this time he intends to – gasp! – actually marry her.

And suddenly Robert isn’t looking so bad, is he?

The rest is just Richard showing some spine when it comes to Lavinia, Tracy learning of the return of Lovelace, and some profundity from the junior Fortescue on the subject of Diana: “an she is a good woman, I hope she will consent to take you, such as you are, and make of you such as she can!”

Tracy, of course, returns with “Of course she will take me” and refuses to entertain the notion that he might have to apologize to her for all his lies and tricks and attempted rape. Frank is outraged. “…if your passion is love,” he says crossly, “’tis a strange one that puts yourself first. I would not give the snap of a finger for it! You want this girl, not for her happiness, but for your own pleasure. That is not the love I once told you would save you from yourself. When it comes, you will count yourself as nought; you will realise your own insignificance, and above all, be ready to make any sacrifice for her sake. Yes, even to the point of losing her!”

Hey, how come Frank Fortescue never got himself his own novel, huh? That guy is gold!

THOUGHTS

The action packed-ness of these two past two chapters is overwhelming, but while I want to discuss Dick and Lavinia’s odd relationship, her “gilded chair” and the fact that seeing her get dressed is apparently a spectator sport, not to mention all that followed with that nice Isabella Fanshawe – of whom we shall blessedly see more – and the return of Devil Belmanoir to cause yet more trouble for our beauteous Di, I will simply address this:

Richard did not return until it was time to prepare for the rout, and on entering the house he went straight to his chamber, putting himself into the hands of his valet. He submitted to the delicate tinting of his finger-nails, the sprinkling of his linen with rosewater and the stencilling of his brows. He was arrayed in puce and gold, rings slipped on to his fingers, his legs coaxed into hose with marvellous clocks splashed on their sides, and a diamond buckle placed above the large black bow of his tie-wig. Then, powdered, painted and patched, he went slowly across to his wife’s room.

You know what’s so genius about this passage? Not only does it give us an intriguing précis of the fashionable Georgian gentleman’s elaborate toilette (who knew they were so punk rock? Throw in some heavy eyeliner, and that’s probably how Benji Madden gets ready in the morning), but also take note of the color Dick has chosen to wear.

Puce.

And you know who hates puce?

Jack!

Well played, Georgette Heyer. Very well played indeed.

Will we continue to get more subtexty insight into the twisted subconsciouses of these two conflicted brothers? Is Lavinia’s flirtation with Lovelace going to get her exiled to that palatial estate she hates so much? And will we soon all wish Robert would die? (If we don’t already…) Let’s embark upon Chapter XX, to find out!


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

 

Heyer Society Profile: Amanda Jones

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

Name: Amanda Jones
Nationality: Australian

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

12 or 13, I think.

What was it?

These Old Shades.

How did you discover her work?

I THINK a school librarian, when I was looking for something after finishing Jane Austen. Or it could have been a friend’s grandmother.

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

This was the 70s. I finished Heyer and went to Barbara Cartland. That put me off for decades from trying other similar genre writers. No one comes close to Georgette.

Read MoreHeyer Society Profile: Amanda Jones”

QUIZ: Heyer Non-Fiction

Our latest weekly Georgette Heyer Quiz! To celebrate this week’s run of Heyer’s own non-fiction here at Heyer Society, today we’re quizzing you on non-fiction books about Heyer herself…

Georgette Heyer Quiz 18 — Heyer Non-Fiction

Think you know your Heyer? Let's see if you're a regular out and outer, or simply make a mull of it...

Rating the Covers: Arabella (Sourcebooks, 2016)

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So many problems with this one (Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2016). So many. For a start, that girl is so airbrushed and poorly rendered, she looks like the poster girl for a Hallmark Channel Original Movie. And is that Ulysses? Really? That purebred cutie pie ready to compete for Best in Show at Crufts? This, meanwhile, forms part of the series “Fearless Heroines,” which offers us also Frederica and The Grand Sophy in equally pastel tones. NO! D-

And come back next time, a se’enight hence, when we begin to rate the covers of Bath Tangle, for which there are definitely some… interesting efforts. See you then!

NEXT: BATH TANGLE

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POLL: Favorite Man of the Cloth of the Cloth in Heyer?

Georgette Heyer may not have had much faith in the Church of England, if the evidence of her assortment of prosy, persnickety reverends and the like is the be believed. She did, however, also give us several entertaining and even empathetic and endearing representatives of faith across her works. Which of these gentlemen of the cloth is your favourite? 

Vote now!

Favorite Man of the Cloth in Heyer?
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Heyer for Austenites: If You Love Mansfield Park

INTRODUCTION

Both Cotillion (1953) and The Nonesuch (1962) contain strong echoes of Mansfield Park (1814), with their stories of women forced into dependency and reliance on the goodwill of wealthier family members or, in the case of Ancilla Trent in the latter book, the generosity of her employer. Like Austen’s Fanny Price, Kitty and Ancilla are moral women each endowed with a naïveté that helps to drive the plot and ensures their eventual happy ending.

Another Heyer novel with hints of Mansfield Park is The Quiet Gentleman (1951). Here the Dowager St Erth reminds the reader of Mrs Norris (and also of Lady Catherine de Bourgh), while Drusilla has the same kind of moral courage as Fanny. Her resolve and her love of the hero is also equally unshakable.

CONCLUSION: If you love Mansfield Park, read The Quiet Gentleman.

NEXT WEEK: Emma


Which is your favourite Austen novel? Did you know there is a Georgette Heyer novel to match it in mood and spirit? Tune in next week for the next post in this new series by famed literary scholar Jennifer Kloester, author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and Jane Austen’s Ghost.

Reading Heyer: The Black Moth: Chapter XVIII

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 XVIII: ENTER CAPTAIN ROBERT LOVELACE

Ooooh. Doesn’t he sound like a card? And indeed he is: a former flame of Lavinia’s, all roguish twinkle and insouciance, who reencounters the beauty as she holds court at the fashionable Ranelagh Gardens one fine evening. Dick doesn’t like it much, of course, but then who are we to concern ourselves with the petty jealousies and marital woes of sadsack Dick? After all, it was he who a) cheated at cards that one time, damn it all and b) allowed himself to be persuaded into bringing Lavinia back to London again, so he really has no cause for complaint.

Of course, Dick is not the only unwelcome gentleman in this here chapter. At this point in the narrative we already dislike Colonel Lord Robert Belmanoir, though it’s hard to really say why. In fact, we’ve hardly seen him in person at all, but reflected in other people’s opinions – from Dick’s to Jack’s to even his own siblings – this outwardly dapper soldier appears to be perfectly abhorrent, and therefore we can’t help but be as displeased at his appearance as his unloving sister Lavinia. (Remember, from Chapter V? “I hate Robert! … I wish he might die.”) But as it is he who delivers Captain Lovelace unto us, and Captain Lovelace seems likely to be quite the important plot point as time goes on – oh, yes, you know where this is going, don’t you? – we must suppose Robert to have at last found his purpose in the story.

So, thanks Robert! Thanks for bringing us this “mad, reckless rake-hell.” As Lavinia said: “How delightful!” Good on you for being the one to reunite “Lavvy” with “Harry” and have him languishing at her dainty feet, quickly becoming a big favorite with her – if not, obviously, with her husband.

Anything that annoys Dick, after all, is pretty fun for us. Damn cheater

THOUGHTS

I’m just going to leave this here:

One of her black pages proffered a small monkey with much bowing and grinning, and the murmur of: “Massa’s present.”

Lady Lavinia flew to embrace her Dicky. How did he guess that she had for so long yearned for a monkey? Surely she had but once or twice mentioned it? Oh, he was the very best of husbands! She danced off to her apartments in a state of ecstasy.

Historical fiction isn’t all joy.


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