Friday, December 7, 2007

Georgette Heyer’s Regency World

By Helen Woodall

Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester
[November 2005; ISBN 9780434013296; currently out of print, available used]

This 382-page hardcover is subtitled “The Definitive Guide to the People, Places and Society in Georgette Heyer’s Regency Novels”. And while it is very much focussed on Heyer’s books, it is also very useful for general information about the Regency period. Just how many people danced a set simultaneously in the quadrille? Where did the man of the haut ton buy his snuff? What on earth is an Aigrette? And how many of those royal characters were real people anyway? The research is very thorough.

I fell in love with Georgette Heyer when someone’s mother loaned me a copy of The Masqueraders. I was maybe 12 or 13 years old at the time and still love that book – and just about all her other historicals as well. So I love this compendium for all the extra details about her Regencies and the world it opens up. But more than that, it is truly useful for general information of the period, details of famous persons, the slang of the times, the historical timeline and a detailed index which speeds access to the data. But it is focussed on Heyer’s view of the period. If Heyer didn't write about it then it won’t be in this book. I must have spent four hours trying to find out a servant’s annual wages in those days – I felt sure I read it in one of her books – but it is not in this volume, so Heyer probably didn't write it.


Heather Redmond said...

Hi Helen!

Sounds like a useful book. I know some of the Regency references I have are downright useless so it's great to have a good suggestion. For whatever reason I seem to find the Victorian era references have better details.

Anonymous said...

Yeah reading some of those Victorian reference books it seems like people either loved or hated Prince Albert - there does not seem to be a middle pathway. And their attitudes to him very much color their perceptions of the entire era.

Anny Cook said...

I have them all. Every single one of her books and I read them all every year. Geez, now I'll have to go dig this book out of someone's pile. Thanks for the recommendation!

Phoenix said...

Sounds like one I need to pick up! You know you could have just told me instead of taking out an entire blog or something. I'm good at hints. ;)

And first Anny, now you. I figure I should look into this Heyer woman.

Anny Cook said...

Amarinda, too. She loves Heyer, too! Sylvester, especially. Personally, I loved Sprig Muslin!

Unknown said...

Yes, I have all Georgette's Heyer's books. And yes, I adore Sylvester. Good blog Helen. Who knew the Frog Queen blogged?

Anonymous said...

My personal faves: Felicia, the Nonesuch and yes, Sylvester. I loved the colloquial language in Ms Heyer's books too: 'shooting the cat', 'sticking a spoon in the wall', or 'making a cake of oneself'. So much fun!

vickyb said...

I grew up with Georgette too. What wonderful memories I have of those books. Though I don't write Regencies, I actually like doing research and reading about those times. I'll have to search this one out. Thanks!

Vicky B.

Anonymous said...

I loved the Georgette Heyer books and this book sounds like it would be fun to read, too.

Anonymous said...

Hi Helen,

I loved those books too---some of the first romances I ever read. Idon't write regency, but still looks like a fascinating book.

Kathleen Coddington

Anonymous said...

Heyer is available in most libraries, but her books have also been reissued lately - I recently bought The Masqueraders on Amazon because I'd read my old copy to death. Great heroine in that one. I also love Friday's Child and especially These Old Shades.

lynneconnolly said...

I adore her books and writing her clear, beautiful prose keeps me sharp (well, that's my excuse!) Sylvester, Frederica, Venetia, I love them all and because it's a lifelong obsession I have all her Regency books, some of them first editions.
For the basis of research into the late 18th Century and Regency era you can't do better than "The Reign of George III" by John Steven Watson. It has everything you need in it. Don't read about the social history separated from the political and economic - the latter two are the reason for the former.
If you're going to write a decent historical romance you have to do the homework - you, not your researcher - so you have a better understanding of what made people tick then. Researchers are for the details and specific instances, not for the main background.
The Watson is expensive new, but you can often find it second hand.
But this book looks like fun - I'll have to pick up a copy!

ECPI Editors said...

I also am one of those who owns every Heyer book. She was the first romance author I read, when I was a pre-teen. My mother didn't realize they were "romances" (of which she does not approve), she thought they were just historical fiction and therefore good for me.

I've been hooked on Regencies since then. But no one does the polite snickering at the social conventions of the time in quite as entertaining a way as Heyer - or with the wonderful grasp of the whole world.


Anonymous said...

Wow, had some bad historical submissions lately? LOL

Heyer is truely one of the greats when it comes to incorporating historical detail into a story. It sure has been a while since I've read one though...

Seeley deBorn

Sandra Cox said...

Like the rest of the world I loved Georgette Heyer! Excellent blog, Helen!

Judith Rochelle said...

skstzesHi Helen,
I won't even tell you how old/young I was when I first read Georgette heyer. I actually still have ten of her books as opart of my permanent collection. Sometimes when i think my writing sounds more like an ad for the local meat market instead of a hot yet tender klove scene, iI find Georgette can get me in the mood. Thanks for bringing her into the fold today.

J L said...

I've been reading this discussion with fascination. I've never read historicals and never read Georgette Heyer (I'm ducking right now as people lob missles at me). Heck, I never read a romance novel until 2004 much less historicals.

At first I thought, "well, I don't write historical so why bother reading this?" Then I realized that, well, duh -- I write time travel. So yes, I write historical.

My first paranormal was set in 1876 and I did copious research into the farm equipment, plumbing, train schedules, and social customs of the times.

I just finished my third book and it was set in 1934 America (Depression-era). And yes, the zipper had JUST been invented and was something of a novelty. I once again found myself doing tons of research on songs, technology (radio, phonographs, etc.), trolley schedules, and hospital details.

Gee. Maybe I write historicals after all.

My next one is set in 1967 then I'll have one in 1894 then 2069 (hey, it's time travel) and finish the series with one in 1918.

Looks like I've got some more research ahead of me ...

Unknown said...

I wish I could be like the last poster, who has never read a Heyer book. I would be able to experience the amazing sense of discovery and joy I had as I read each of her books, and then desperately searched to find out more--did she write more? how many? how can I get them?

When I found her, it was from one of my mother's books. She only had one copy, but I went on to obtain every single one of her books. This was back in 1971-2. There was no mall in town, no bookstore, except a newsstand downtown and the Purdue bookstore. Finding her books became a challenge, and then finally one of those trade used books stores opened. What a gold mine!

I can't tell you the hours I spent kneeling on the floor pouring over the shelves, desperate to find a copy, and then later, looking for the very best copy possible.

I laugh now when I think back-we have a Waldens and Barnes and NOble now. Plus the fact that all the drugstores and grocery stores started carrying books. Now the places to find a book is endless.

The only author I've found close is Amanda Quick. I have every one of her books too. I guess that is my favorite escape period.

Mlyn Hurn