Thursday, July 14, 2011

What Do You Think of Georgette Heyer?

My blog friend Julie loves Georgette Heyer. And Michael Dirda in his Classics for Pleasure says she's a hidden gem in the literary world. I don't really like romance novels, but based on their raves I obtained one of her books, Talisman Ring. It is basically a romance with a mystery thrown in. The witty diaologue saved the book, because the rest of it was just "okay". I was interested to see that Ardent Reader is less than enthusiastic about Heyer too. Any other opinions? Did I pick the wrong book?

While we are on the subject of Miss Heyer, Abe Books just came out with an article saying she outsells even J.K. Rowling. Read it if you'd like to know more about this lesser known author.

I wrote another post about her that includes a few links to Kindle titles here.


Becky said...

I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Georgette Heyer. I wouldn't say that Taliman Ring is in my top ten though. So don't judge her based on that alone!!! Because that is not her best work :)

Julie D. said...

Try The Grand Sophy, my hands down favorite book.

Or The Unknown Ajax or Sprig Muslin or Cotillion.

Those are among my favorites.

Although I have to admit that I also like The Talisman Ring pretty well for the Keystone Cops quality toward the end.

Tante LĂ©onie said...

Love Georgette as well, although she isn't what I would consider a great writer. Her work is more like a frothy pink champagne to Jane Austen's Chateau Lafite Rothschild.

That said, my absolute favs are:
A Civil Contract
The Grand Sophy

I didn't like Talisman Ring at all; I prefer the Regency romances that aren't detective stories in disguise.

Give some of the comedies a try, especially Cotillion and Sophy.

Salome Ellen said...

What!??! Why aren't These Old Shades and Devil's Cub everybody's favorites?

Also The Corinthian, The Masqueraders, and A Convenient Marriage. The Talisman Ring is way down at the bottom of my list!.

Anonymous said...

I, too, love Georgette Heyer, and it was Julie D. who pointed me in that direction several years ago! I agree with the other commenters that The Talisman Ring is not her greatest work. Julie D. is right--The Grand Sophy is a wonderful book. Friday's Child has a P.G. Wodehouse quality and is very funny. Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle is also funny. I love Heyer's ability to combine humor with romance. If you like stories about redeeming a rake, you might like Devil's Cub. But even Devil's Cub features a cool humor that isn't found in many romances today.

Anonymous said...

Love Georgette Heyer! Hers were the first regencies I ever read. I didn't like "The Talisman Ring" nearly as well as the others mentioned.

Mary Balough is a current regency writer I enjoy as well, though I haven't read a regency for a couple of years.

Ann in MT

Mary Ruth said...

I really enjoy the Georgette Heyer romances and am in full accord with Tante Leonie as to my favorites. From what I've read of your blog I think that you should choose "A Civil Contract" next if you decide to give Heyer another go. I enjoy mysteries but I read one of her straight mysteries recently and decided to stay with the romances.

Carol in Oregon said...

I've only heard of her. I'm curious what you think. (translation: if you like her, I'll give her a try.)

hopeinbrazil said...

Thanks for all the comments here. I saw Cotillion at a book sale this week and picked it up for a dollar. Still, I have to put Heyer on the back burner for now. Too many other books half started...

Vintage Reading said...

I've got as far as picking up a Heyer in a book store but then I put it down again. I'm a bit worried I'll find her a 'cut-price Jane Austen.' I did hear a radio adaption of Regency Buck which didn't impress me but I've been looking at the suggestions from your other commenters and maybe I should try again!

rohit said...

An enjoyable read The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.

Anonymous said...

No one can touch Georgette Heyer for witty dialogue. Her ability to convey a character's demeanor in hilariously incisive terms is unparalleled, as in "...the butler's greeting of the policemen conveyed both his respect of the law and his contempt for its minions." I've probably not got that quote exactly right, but you get the idea. I have read all her romances and as many of her mysteries as I could get my hands on. Just ran across an offering for "Bath Tangle" and am counting the days til it arrives.

Anonymous said...

As a history geek from the UK, I really resent the way that Georgette Heyer's high Tory, the French Revolution equates with the terror, let's only write about the aristocracy depiction of the UK during the era of the Napoleonic Wars has been accepted as in any way genuine history by so many readers. And why do so many readers take the extraordinary view that they would have belonged to the tiny aristocracy?
Readers point to Heyer's research as evidence that it is good literature; no; research may be detailed without being either broad or truly enlightening.
Heyer is easy reading, often amusing, and portrays a glittering, false depiction of reality full of a subtle but pervasive snobbish perspective which non UK readers probably find it difficult to detect.
Some of her fans betted me I couldn't read twelve and not become a fan. I had already read eight as a teenager. I have now read the requisite twelve, and am anything but a fan. When I told them why, they were dreadfully upset.
The characters are made of cardboard, drawn from a limited stock, and the situations are constantly recycled. She averages about ten exclamation marks on every page. That is not good literature.
What I find sinister is that I suspect that people do not dare to post negative reviews on amazon, etc, for fear of a backlash from Heyer addicts armed with cyber copies of 'These Old Shades'.
When I first read 'The Talisman Ring' at thirteen, I found those idiots Eustacie and Ludo Lav (sorry!) wholly unbelievable and annoying, and when I re-read it recently I found them even worse. However, at least there isn't a disgusting would-be rapist hero, as in 'Devil's Cub'.
Here's a good article that sums up my own feelings about Heyer's influence: