Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Queen of Regency Fiction Reigns over Summer


In my many adventures through romance review sites and blogs, one name comes up time and time again—Georgette Heyer. Heyer is the undisputed Queen of regency fiction—including timeless romances and breathtaking historical accounts. Authors and readers alike LOVE Heyer and to this day offer limitless amounts of admiration and praise. Publishers Weekly once said that Reading Georgette Heyer is the next best thing to reading Jane Austen, and I have to agree!

I hope that the fine ladies of Casablanca know that Georgette Heyer is a fellow Sourcebooks author. We are well on our way to becoming the premiere American publisher of Heyer’s books. And in more exciting news, Nancy Pearl, “rock star librarian” and book commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition, has added Sourcebooks’ re-issue of one of Heyer’s most celebrated historical novels, An Infamous Army: A Novel of Wellington, Waterloo, Love and War, to her highly anticipated summer reading list! The full list is listed here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90677140. Nancy’s official announcement will air the week of July 7, 2008, so be sure to listen!!

Now, up until recently, I had read mainly Heyer’s whimsical romances with plots of “old maids” finding true love, twins switching places to impress wealthy fiancĂ©s, complete with high society gatherings and comedic intrigue. A couple of weeks ago I sat down to read An Infamous Army and I understand why Nancy Pearl picked this particular book—Heyer truly transports you into the time: the looming urgency of Waterloo, what was expected of ladies and gentlemen during the turmoil that many of them never realized was so near, and of course, a delightful love story driving the heart of the book.

I think it’s amazing that Georgette Heyer is so beloved, so well-known and so highly regarded after all of this time. It’s safe to say that the Sourcebooks reissues have caused a deserved fan frenzy and on the heels of the recent “Austen-Mania,” I think readers are looking for another author who can take us into a period so specific, but leave us with timeless tales of passion and love, without being over the top. Our next stop in Heyer’s world will be her mysteries—full of witty twists and turns!

Do any of you have a particular favorite Georgette Heyer book (I think mine is the filly and flouncy Cotillion)? What do you think it is about Heyer that instills her books so deeply in her fans’ hearts, and what draws the attraction from new readers?


Danielle

For more information about Georgette Heyer, go to http://www.georgette-heyer.com/.

15 comments:

  1. Funny you mention Georgette Heyer. I bought a Sourcebooks edition of A Lady of Quality just the other day. It's at least the third or forth time I've replaced it over the years.

    I have had all of her books at various times but they get old and start falling apart.

    Her wit, her sharp eye for human frailty, her awareness of how often obedience to convention turns people into idiots--all couched in her skillful use of language--give us stories that never go stale.

    I'm thrilled to think I'm with the same publisher.

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  2. I love Cotillion! It's probably the only romance novel I've ever read where the hero doesn't think he's handsome, witty, or even intelligent, but he comes through at the end.
    I've been reading Georgette Heyer novels since I was a kid, and I still read them--I'm on my second copy of Sylvester, which is my own particular favorite.

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  3. MM- I think you explained Heyer's timeless qualities perfectly! Her writing really takes us back to that time and into that world.

    Cheryl- I know what you mean! Poor Freddy was so aloof sometimes, but he ended up being a great hero :)

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  4. I must say I am honored to be among such august company. Certainly Georgette Heyer is one of the reasons I write regency set historicals.

    I love her work, and have every single book she ever wrote.

    My father introduced me to her novels when I was not yet in my teens. Yep. My tough guy soldier dad loved disappearing into the magical world created by Georgette Heyer. I wish now I had asked him what got him started. We used to get them at the library, three and four at a time and it would always be a race to see who could get them read first.

    Her writing is timeless, probably classic, and I try to read at least one a month just to keep myself grounded in the feel of the era.

    It is hard to choose a favorite, but I think the best heros for me were in These Old Shades and Devil's Cub and the best heroines in Venetia and Cousin Kate. The history in the Spanish Bride is also quite extraordinary given that it was about two real people.

    Each one I am reading becomes my favorite until it is time to pick up another.

    I am so glad Sourcebooks is keeping her available to a new generation of readers who will also come to love regencies.

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  5. I must say I am honored to be among such august company. Certainly Georgette Heyer is one of the reasons I write regency set historicals.

    I love her work, and have every single book she ever wrote.

    My father introduced me to her novels when I was not yet in my teens. Yep. My tough guy soldier dad loved disappearing into the magical world created by Georgette Heyer. I wish now I had asked him what got him started. We used to get them at the library, three and four at a time and it would always be a race to see who could get them read first.

    Her writing is timeless, probably classic, and I try to read at least one a month just to keep myself grounded in the feel of the era.

    It is hard to choose a favorite, but I think the best heros for me were in These Old Shades and Devil's Cub and the best heroines in Venetia and Cousin Kate. The history in the Spanish Bride is also quite extraordinary given that it was about two real people.

    Each one I am reading becomes my favorite until it is time to pick up another.

    I am so glad Sourcebooks is keeping her available to a new generation of readers who will also come to love regencies.

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  7. I am a recent Georgette Heyer convert. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical when I picked up my first one (Royal Escape) but I got over my septicism in about 10 pages.

    She is such an amazing writer, I can't believe that no one has brought her to the States en masse before now. I think that a lot of people are in for a pleasant surprise and quite a treat if they are picking up a Heyer for the first time.

    So far my favorite has been The Conqueror. I rave about it to everyone who will listen. I have yet to read any of the romances, but I think that I would like to start with Black Sheep (love the cover!), though if anyone has any suggestions as to what a good "first romance" from Ms. Heyer would be, I would gladly follow that advice!

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  8. Wow, Michelle!

    To think of being turned on to Georgette Heyer by one's father!

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  9. Head hung in shame... I am not a reader of historicals. Never have been. I've been trying to convert myself but I'm not having much success. I have big plans this summer to delve into some of these authors such as Heyer that everyone is always talking, but it will be a struggle for me. I am just so rooted in the contemporary scene--as a writer and a reader.

    I will now take my forty lashes....

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  10. Michele- How wonderful to hear that your dad recommended Heyer to you! We all need an escape, right?

    KAY! OMG you're my official favorite for stopping by :) I was the same way about Heyer when I was younger, but my mother insisted I try just one, and I've been hooked ever since.

    Marie- I don't believe it! Heyer's always fun for a light read (one of the romances), and the historicals shine in her research and devotion to staying true to the time. I think you should give it another go :)

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  11. Great post, Danielle!

    Unfortunately, I'll have to take my 40 lashes along with Marie. I'm another one who hasn't read Heyer. So many great books, so little time! That's my story and I'm sticking with it. ;-)

    Cindy

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  12. I enjoyed and admired "An Infamous Army" for reasons I never expected to. I thought I was picking up a straight historical romance. Little did I know that I was also picking up one of the most vivid and thrilling descriptions of Waterloo that I've ever encountered. I was captivated by the battle (which she describes with incredible, exciting detail) and on the edge of my seat to see how her characters would manage to come through. I thought it was a wonderful work.

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  13. My favourite Georgette Heyer books are 'These old shades' and 'Devil's Cub'. I re-read them at least once a year.

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  14. Cindy- You and Marie are missing out! I understand about having too many books to read. My "too be read" pile is getting a little outrageous...

    Christina- isn't it amazing that an author who can write such great depictions of balls and society can also write about battles?

    Night Critter- Thanks for stopping by! These Old Shades will be re-issued by Sourcebooks next year :)

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  15. I'm going to have to add some Georgette Heyer to my towering TBR pile, because I am an Austen junkie from way back. My husband has no idea how I can sit and watch the Austen-based movies ("How can you be interested in people talking and dancing for so long? Is anything even HAPPENING in this movie?!") with rapt attention for hours, but I love to be swept into that time period! Expressions of emotion were so subtle, I find it very sweet...which explains why my husband isn't into it, since he's more interested in books and movies about stuff blowing up and/or flesh-eating zombies. And yet, I do love him...:-)

    If my TBR pile falls and crushes me, I'm holding you all responsible!

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