27 July 2010

Georgette Heyer - A Guilty Pleasure? Really?

I read the NPR article on Georgette Heyer as a guilty pleasure read and was disappointed. Just because the novels have some degree of romance, usually quite small and in the last few chapters, shouldn't relegate the books to some trashy novel  (smut book as my friend Amy used to call them). The amount of historical detail is amazing and the descriptions so vivid and the characters so specific and well played that I find the books hard to put down. In fact, I just finished yet another one this weekend (it was a rainy lazy Sunday after all). Review forthcoming.
As I have said before my only fault with Jane Austen is the limited material, but finding Georgette Heyer has given me so much more to think about. While Miss Austen is a little spare in here details (what did Elizabeth Bennett look like - we have some idea, but not lots), Miss Heyer is effusive in her descriptions of everyone and everything - from the cravat a certain gentleman wears (and what that means) to the acres of satin used to create a certain lady's ball gown and the look of the pair of matched grays that pull the curricle. Sure there is romance, but often also war and dueling - all described so accurately, you think you might be there - or that Heyer could travel back in time.

That said, let's party the month of August away with Laurel Ann and friends over at Austenprose. Bring on more Ms. Heyer!


  1. Thanks for the shout out on 'Celebrating Georgette Heyer' JJ. I look forward to reading your Heyer reviews here and comments during the Heyer event at Austenprose in August.

  2. I only read one book, An Infamous Army (Battle of Waterloo), but I was really impressed by the details. And you are right. There was a lot of description, making it easy to picture the scenes she was describing.

  3. Thanks for bringing the NPR article to my attention! I have to say that I don't think the author was trying to disparage Heyer because she is "a guilty pleasure", as demonstrated by pointing out her inclusion in college curriculum. I have been reading Heyer fairly voraciously for the past nine months, and yet I still think of her in those terms, "a guilty pleasure" (which doesn't equate smutty in my mind - I never seek out trashy novels, at least not since I overcame my V.C. Andrews fascination in middle school). Yes, they are historically magnificent, but the plots are also amazingly predictable and the majority of the characters are only superficially drawn. She definitely falls into the category of light reading, but that doesn't mean we don't love her all the same (just not as much as Jane).

  4. I just finished The Nonesuch and had to admit was a little surprised in a couple of instances where I had made assumptions. Review forthcoming. Heyer is a great rainy Sunday read and I agree Alexa -- she's no Miss Austen, but is a lot of fun.


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