Heyer Society Profile: Susannah Fullerton

In which we get to know our Heyer Society contributors — and their Heyer cred — a little better…

Name: Susannah Fullerton
Nationality: Australian
Heyer Society Essay: “A Most Excellent Influence — Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen”

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

I think I read my first GH at about the age of 12.

2. What was it?

Arabella.

3. How did you discover her work?

I was staying with a relative and got sick, so had to spend a day in bed, and she handed me Arabella. I enjoyed it, but was perhaps still too young as I did not rush off to find more from my relative’s bookshelves.

Then as a teenager I read many — picking some up in second hand bookstores or at libraries. I liked them, but did not fall in love with them, and after a while I moved on to other authors and felt I had outgrown Heyer’s novels.

How wrong I was! My friend Amanda Jones, a co-contributor to the new volume, lent me an audio version of Frederica, and I fell in love — with Alverstoke, Frederica, with the language and humour. Gradually I found all of them on audio and listened to them with such joy. I often listen again, and laugh out loud so frequently.

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

Of course her books led me to try other Regency romances, but nobody can match Georgette Heyer in that genre. My favourite novelist ever is Jane Austen, and Heyer is her best imitator. She is not the utterly brilliant genius that Jane Austen was, but what she does, she does superbly, and her novels have given me enormous pleasure over the last fifteen years.

5. What is the Heyer book you read most recently?

My most recent listen was Charity Girl, which is one of Heyer’s poorest books, but even that has many merits and good characters. I just feel she doesn’t give Hetta and Desford enough time together.

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Rating the Covers: Arabella

The tale of the innocent, crusading debutante Arabella Tallant and the world-weary, incisive Mr. Beaumaris, Arabella is one of Georgette Heyer’s most popular Regencies, and has been reissued over one hundred times in various countries and languages.

This is the first edition cover (William Heinemann, 1949).  It is gorgeous. See the delicate curve of our heroine’s waist, the drape of her morning gown, the rakish tilt of her bonnet. It certainly sets the scene for what is to come. A+

The first of Pan’s many paperback editions, this one (Pan, 1964) shows one of the novel’s most notable scenes, Arabella’s shock meeting with the abused child slave, Jemmy. For anyone unfamiliar with the story, it can only be considered an… oblique offering. B

So… um, is that supposed to be Arabella? That thirty-five-year-old woman? And those gloves — are they made from bandages? Is this edition (Ace, 1967) an early classic/monster mash up, Arabella and the Undead, maybe? Terrible. The school bus yellow is cheery, though. C

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You’re Much Too Young Girl — Heyer’s Underage Heroines

Bella and Edward — a May/Next Century Romance

When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with Twilight. In my defense, it was the 2000s and Twilight obsession was everywhere and was hardly confined to teens. But I would say I was fairly hardcore, even in the realms of (I hate this term) Twi-hards—I read the books repeatedly and bought all the merchandise, posted online pretty much hourly with my fellow obsessives and saw the first couple of movies multiple times in the theater, on the same day.

One thing that I used to find so infuriating back then was that people were always accusing Edward Cullen, a 100+ year old vampire and my ideal man, of child sex offences, because love of his life Bella Swan is only 17. It seemed to me so unfair, not only because I didn’t think that Edward would have been taking advantage of me if we met and fell in love, and I was younger than Bella (there may even still be fanfic about that possibility somewhere), but because those same people didn’t seem to give the 200+ vampire Angel the same level of grief over his 16-year-old girlfriend, Buffy. (Was it because she was good with a stake? Probably.)

Sometime during this period, my Grandmother introduced me to Georgette Heyer, intending, she later confessed, to wean me off the “sparkly vampire books” and get me into reading “decent literature.” She gave me The Black Moth, and I was into it right away. Before long, I had lessened my time spent on Edward, Bella and the gang – I didn’t even see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 in theaters until it had been out for over a week (!!!) – and was devouring Heyer novels, one after the other, for at least the next year.

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Heyer for Beginners — A Prologue

Damn you, Gregory!

Hello, my name is Maura, and as I mention in my essay “The Lost Contemporaries – A Slippery Slope” in Heyer Society, I am not a fan of historical romance. Historical fiction in any form, in fact, usually makes me roll my eyes. I don’t read it, I don’t watch it, I don’t like it. I prefer 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 seems silly to me. For this I blame Philippa Gregory. I read The Other Boleyn Girl and I have despised books of its kind ever since.

For me, Contemporary Fiction is a far worthier pursuit, because it echoes the times 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. Historical fiction is invention. Contemporary fiction is living history.

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TOP 10 HEYER HEROINES

When it comes to creating well-rounded, intriguing and thoroughly relatable women, Georgette Heyer truly set the standard in modern fiction. Her heroines are flawed and hardly infallible, and despite some occasional surface similarities, they all have very distinct personalities. What is very curious is that, despite their often rarefied social status and the strictures of the times in which they lived – and, indeed, where invented – they still manage to speak to us so clearly, and win our hearts so utterly.

Here, a somewhat subjective listing of the very best of these most laudable ladies. Agree? Disagree? Discuss in the comments!

10. Arabella Tallant, Arabella (1949)

Whatever else you might think of Arabella’s melodramatic claim of great wealth – which basically amounted to fraud – as her adventures commence, you have to admit, the girl has moxie. Moreover, she is a social crusader of no little passion, and for all her folly, is truly a good person who wants so much to do what is right that it sometimes leads her astray. Because she’s a helper!

9. Ancilla Trent, The Nonesuch (1962)

Learned, gracious and independent, the esteemed Miss Trent’s ability to deal equably with even the most outlandish behavior of her charge, the spoiled Tiffany, is little short of miraculous. Determined not to act above her station, Ancilla proves herself to be equal to any—and the fact that she works as a governess not because she has to but because she refuses to be a burden on her family marks her as a woman of great principle, not to mention one quite ahead of her time.

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Announcing Heyer Society – Essays on the Literary Genius of Georgette Heyer

Out November 27, 2018!

Scholars, authors, bloggers and fans come together in a celebration of the works, and worlds, of Georgette Heyer (1902 – 1974).

Featuring contributions from renowned Heyer biographer Jennifer Kloester, heading up a talented team of Heyer devotees, this far-ranging and thought-provoking collection considers topics as diverse as intimacy, privilege, historical accuracy and contemporary analysis, along with looks at Heyer’s influences, and the many writers – and readers – she continues to influence worldwide.

By turns learned, personal, insightful and irreverent, the dozens of essays herein exult in the unparalleled genius of this true nonpareil.

Including:

1. Georgette Heyer’s Literary Genius, by Jennifer Kloester
2. A Most Excellent Influence – Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, by Susannah Fullarton
3. From Arabella to Venetia – Growing Up with Heyer’s Heroines by Rachel Hyland
4. The Heyer Problem – Privilege in Regency Romance, by Cat Sebastian
5. Marks of Distinction – Heyer’s Mark I and Mark II Heroes by Janga
6. Beauvallet: My First Romance Novel Boyfriend, by Donna Cummings
7. Heyer’s Kissing Cousins, by Ruth Williamson
8. What I Owe to Georgette Heyer, by Cheryl Bolen
9. Bath Tangle in the Social Media Age, by Anne-Marie Turenne
10. Fathers in Heyer, by Janet Webb
11. The Grand Sophy: Matchmaker or Master Manipulator? by Jennifer Proffitt
12. Reluctantly Watching ‘The Reluctant Widow’ – Heyer on Film, by Rachel Hyland
13. Splash, Dash and Finesse! – Heyer’s Magical Pen and Indomitable Spirit on Display in The Masqueraders, by Kathleen Baldwin
14. Hearing Heyer – How Audiobooks Breed a New Appreciation by Karen Zachary
15. Learning! with Georgette Heyer, by Clara Shipman
16. The Mystery of Penhallow, by Madeline Paschen
17. Behind Closed Doors – Sex in Georgette Heyer, by Anna Bradley
18. Reading The Great Roxhythe – The Lost Heyer Historical, by Rachel Hyland
19. Beaux, Belles and Black Sheep – Georgette Heyer in Bath, by Kirsten Elliott
20. Coming Back to Heyer – How I Came to Appreciate the Slow Burn, by Megan Osmond
21. The Lost Contemporaries – A Slippery Slope, by Maura Tan
22. Gambling in Heyer, by Rachel Hyland
23. The Apple and the Tree – Georgette Heyer and the Black Dagger Brotherhood, by Kate Nagy
24. Was Georgette Heyer a Snob, and Does it Matter? by Tabetha Waite
25. Heyer’s Heirs – What to Read After Georgette, by Amanda Jones

Plus our contributors weigh in on their favorite Heyer novels, heroes and heroines, along with their firsts and their worsts.

A must for any Heyer fan!

PRE-ORDER NOW.

Available from all good booksellers and digital retailers.