An international bestselling phenomenon and queen of the Regency romance, Georgette Heyer is one of the most beloved historical novelists of our time. She wrote more than fifty novels, yet her private life was inaccessible to any but her nearest friends and relatives.
Lavishly illustrated and with access to private papers, correspondence and family archives, this classic biography opens a window into Georgette Heyer's world and that of her most memorable characters, revealing a formidable, energetic woman with an impeccable sense of style and, beyond everything, a love for all things Regency.
The name Georgette Heyer is synonymous with a whole genre - Regency romance - and she has had legions of fans, both when her first book was published and in the years following her last book being published.
In addition to the Regency romance that she helped to define through her works, so much so that there have been plenty of plagiarists over the years, Heyer also wrote straight historical fiction and mysteries. In fact, Heyer was somewhat dismissive of the books which made her such a successful author, and of many of the fans who faithfully waited for the release of each new book. The book of her heart was a straight historical novel set not in the Regency but in medieval times. The book remained unfinished when she died, although was subsequently published under the title Lord John.
What about Georgette Heyer the person? She was intensely private shunning all attempts by her publishers to publicise her own books. Even though Georgette Heyer was her real name, she used it like a pseudonym and was much happier in her role as Mrs Ronald Rougier - wife, mother, opinionated and pragmatic. In this account, we get to hear about the author as she was writing about her own books, about her many battles with her publishers, and most notably with the tax man. We get to see her own thoughts in her letters to friends and publishers, but even then the woman who emerges remains somewhat enigmatic.
We do get glimpses of her humour, usually self deprecating, but also are continually reminded of her insecurities and her attitude regarding her own work. For example, she talks in a letter about going to an informal lunch at Buckingham Palace. She deems Prince Philip as being "far more aware of his "charm" than I am", but in the same letter to her friend said "Neither Queen nor Duke made any mention of Georgette Heyer's books for which - since I hate talking about my books - I was thankful. But they certainly ought to have done so, don't you think?"
This book was published originally in 1984, which was 10 years after the death of Georgette Heyer from lung cancer, and therefore the author was able to talk to many of Georgette Heyer's contemporaries and to access the few letters which were available to the public record.
Whilst it was interesting, there were times as I read this that I got a bit distracted by the view out the window. What this book did do is make me want to read lots more Heyer, and I can see myself picking this book up again and again to read Heyer's thoughts on many of her own books.
My intentions are to read Sylvester which I started a few days ago, and then in the not too distant future to read Venetia (the first Heyer I ever bought but still haven't read), then A Civil Contract, Frederica and The Unknown Ajax, not necessarily in that order.
As far as I can tell, being inspired to read more Heyer can only be a good thing, right?
Thanks to Sourcebooks for the review copy.