Arabella: Georgette Heyer Book Club no. 16(106 Posts)
What a glorious romp this is.
From the beginning we are told again and again how deliriously beautiful Arabella is, although in the end of course it is her character and vivacity Beaumaris falls for. We get the classic "oh I thought you'd be bored" when she's forgotten to pretend to be jaded (do any of GH's heroines remember?!) but Arabella's USP is her Heythrom heritage and good deeds - which remind me of Patience in the Nonesuch, FWIW.
I love the descriptions of family life - Heyer really throws herself into this. 11yo Harry "who had abandoned knot making in favour of trying to stand on his head, overbalanced at this moment, and fell into a heap on the floor, together with a chair, Sophia's workbox, and a handscreen, which Margaret had been painting. Beyond begging him not to be such an ape, none of his sisters censured his conduct." - and when Bertram decides to fight Harry: " 'Not in here!' shrieked his sisters with one accustomed voice."
It's just so true to life!
I have trouble reading the last quarter or so of Arabella because I find Bertram's predicament and extrication very uncomfortable. I know it's realistic, and the real-life stories of men's bankrupting their families at the gaming tables are many and horrific, so I can't bear to read it. He's eighteen and so cocksure and it's just excruciating.
Mrs Tallant is fabulous too. Although she is in the same position as eg Mrs Bennet in P&P, she is sharp and tactful and worldly. She taps up her rich brother-in-law shamelessly but sneakily, and carefully hides from the Vicar anything that would make her life complicated or which would upset or discompose him. I love the descriptions of how they are going to deceive him because his good nature and forgiveness depresses them so much ::takes notes for future reference::.
I wonder how realistic Beaumaris' descriptions are of how he is beset by fortune hunters. Of course there were more hopeful mamas and daughters than rich men (and more hopeful "financially embarrassed" men than rich women) but did GH make up the twisted ankles etc or did she find them described somewhere and shoehorn them in?
I learned about tight yellow breeches recently, which became very telling in this book. Bertram is very careful of his at the beginning; Beaumaris is far more careless of his later on and casually remarks that they are knitted. Tight yellow breeches were absolutely de rigueur but notoriously difficult or even impossible to wash. Knitwear was a brand new innovation. Once your yellow pants were grubby, or baggy, you had to throw them out, so they were a definite show of wealth.
Beaumaris shows well in the book but we see glimpses that he can be an utter arsehole. The champagne/lemonade trick is shown by Miss Blackburn and Lord Fleetwood's responses to be underhand and unkind, and when Bertram comes to play too deep Beaumaris considers utterly destroying Bertram's reputation and standing by refusing to play with him. And he could have insisted on the redemption of the vowels (assuming the other player had been over 21) which would have utterly ruined that other player but just paid for a few more pairs of yellow buckskins.
The amounts of money are quite interesting. A hundred pounds is so much to Bertram that he expects a couple of weeks in London on it, even with a few new items of clothing; fifty pounds is Arabella's entire spending money for the season, and she still has ten guineas to give to Bertram; but Bertram loses six hundred guineas in a few hours' play... Insanity.
Ooh, lots to think about there. I agree that Arabella shows realistically the fantastic sums staked in cards in the period. Wealthy men did indeed bankrupt themselves at a very young age, and the sums involved are pretty stark.
I'd defend Beaumaris against charges of unkindness though - he's capricious, but not mean. The champagne is the whim of a moment - when he realises that it was a mistake he introduces lemonade to rescue Arabella - it's bizarre, but it's not unkind. And he agonises over what's the kindest thing to do with Bertram - and decides that exposing him to horrific losses and then letting him off privately will be kinder than public humiliation. He could be forgiven for exasperatedly thinking that it would serve Bertram right if he were humiliated, for being such an idiot - I think that myself, and I agree that I find Bertram's predicament excruciating.
I think him capable of cruelty because he considers it. His mischief level is high, and his power is substantial. It makes one wonder how many other times he had been thoughtlessly cruel.
Unusually for a Heyer hero, I don't remotely fancy him. I didn't fancy Sale last week but he isn't a conventional Heyer hero. Is Beaumaris unloveable, or is it just me? We know more about him than Carlyon, for example, whom I liked.
I think he just considers the options available to him and dismisses the ones which would cause a scene as impossible. He thinks it will do Bertram good to stew on his debts overnight to teach him a lesson, which is hardheaded but probably correct.
I think he's rather attractive - I love the dandelion, and his interaction with Ulysses is very loveable.
Ulysses is a triumph - how could I have omitted him from my OP? Rather funnier to have a monologue addressed to a dog, particularly in one scene where a servant is PHSL nearby.
I used not to like Arabella as a teenager but am v fond of it now. Other than The nonsuch it is really the only one that seriously deals with the social problems, and Beaumaris's transformation comes when he realises Arabella has serious morals, "something that should be discussed in every Christian lady's drawingroom". It has more religion in it too, with the letter describing going to church.
I love Beaumaris for his sense of humour, recently used his response to Poodle Byng, and Horace is his favourite poet which is a way to my heart. But I don't find him attractive in the same way I find Avon and Damerel, perhaps because he is not enough of a rake to begin with. And I do find him condescending to Arabella in the final scene, especially when he is talking about her family and her mother not being surprised about what was happening.
It is the humour that makes.it a real favourite.
I love the humour in Arabella's response to "don't let Master Robert keep you out of your bed". The idea of his prissy Aunt Caroline knitting his unmentionables is great. Ulysses is a triumph. I'm not so keen on Leaky Peg because it seems to be trying too hard, but there is humour in Arabella's responses to Beaumaris' offer to take Jemmy, " what will you do with him?" And saying it is right not to tell untruths to children , when it is just about horses' colours. There is a whisper of humour in how Arabella is described, more than about other heroines who are usually played straight. GH knows she is absurd but is.fundamentally a very attractive young woman.
I also enjoy the awful younger sister, with an earache. I just don't have much patience with the sub plot.
I love the family scenes.
In my younger days I couldn't bear Arabella, because I found her lie to Beaumaris about having a fortune followed by her terror of being found out too painful. I am less sensitive now though and like thewhistler am v fond of it.
Lady Bridlington is a classic GH character with her apparently kind but actually selfish sensitivity to other people's suffering. Lord Bridlington and his pompous self-satisfaction also familiar (isn't he reused as that very tedious chap in The Grand Sophy?).
Beaumaris is supposed to be an arse to begin with but actually (unlike Horatia!) I don't think that comes across in the text at all. He's a bit petulant to begin with but no worse, and melts very quickly when exposed to Arabella's charms and natural goodness. Arabella is a delight, of course, and the only GH character I can think of with two living and functional parents. (Charles Rivenhall has two living parents, but his father is totally useless - can anyone think of any others?)
Surely the parents don't count if they're absent for the vast, vast majority of the novel? Parents are always absent in literature. To quote pulp fiction, Ana Steele is away from hers; Hogwarts is a boarding school with dreadful staff:pupil ratios; Bella lives with her frequently absent father. Adults who might actually helpfully give one advice are plot killers!
I think perhaps my non-fancying of Beaumaris and my observation of his bad character (before reform) are related, but I don't know which is the chicken and which the egg, and I don't believe he is actually reformed. I think he will continue to he cutting and witty and it will take all Arabella's moralising to rein him in.
I don't fancy him either. I like the fact that he is clever though, and don't find him too mean a character to like.
I too love the scenes of family life, and I regret GH doesn't show us the visit Beaumaris made to the household (although I realise it would spoil the reveal).
The bit I don't like it the scene at the beginning where the deception about the inheritance begins, I find it painful!
I think Freddie Standon's parents are both around..... Lord & Lady Isherwood / Iverwood - whatever their title is.
<makes mental note to return with something more useful to add to the deabte>
And how about Vidal? Admittedly they are not written to as much as Arabella's mother, but they are around.
I think Beaumaris transformed by Arabella will become Sir Waldo. She won't put up with any nonsense from boys or men, because she has been trained to deal with her brothers.
Does any one else like the bit where they go through the.attic? As do Elinor and miss Beccles. I love that bit, shades of dressing up boxes.
This was my very first GH book that I read years ago & it's still one of my favourites.
I love the 'it was beyond laughter so they sat respectfully silent' line, me & my brother use it frequently!
The champagne/lemonade trick is shown by Miss Blackburn and Lord Fleetwood's responses to be underhand and unkind. I have always read this as chivalry on his part. He's realised Arabella is not used to it, so for her sake he changes it, rather than letting her become drunk but Miss Blackburn and Lord Fleetwood don't have the same perspicacity.
Will go and read the rest now! Just wanted to post that thought before I forgot it.
Lord and Lady Legerwood! Of course, and Justin and Leonie obviously. And I seem to recall Drusilla's parents are alive but off being literary with William Godwin et al. Maybe there are more than I thought.
I love the attic section with the grey hair powder and the lustring sack. I'm sure we've all been through our parents' old clothes (1970s atrocities in my case) and laughed at them.
yes, that's always how I've read it, how is it unkind and underhand?
I also don't think he considers destroying Bertram's reputation, I think he is in a quandary because he knows Bertram is in trouble and wants to prevent him from getting in any deeper but the only way of doing that is to refuse to let him play, with the consequences you mention. I see it as him wanting to help Bertram but just not being able to see how, without humiliating him.
I'm going to re-read those two scenes now, just to see if my affection for Beaumaris is blinding me to his faults...
Yes, what LadyDamerel says. It's not that he's sitting there thinking "Now, shall I destroy Bertram's reputation...?" but rather "How the hell am I going to stop him bankrupting himself and his family?" -- and the option that would most easily and quickly curtail his losses but humiliate him in public is quickly dismissed. And what she says about the champagne, too -- far from showing cruelty I've always taken that as the first sign that Beaumaris has a kind heart under the necessary froideur .
Right, after the overheard conversation between Mr Beaumaris and Lord Fleetwood and Arabella's fib that she was an heiress, Mr Beaumaris looks at her through his quizzing glass in an attempt to quell her. Arabella lifts her chin and stares straight back, which surprises Beaumaris because girls/women were usually more coquettish in their response to him.
But Mr Beaumaris saw that there was a decidedly militant sparkle in this lady's eye, and his interest, at first tickled, was now fairly caught. Even that early on in their acquaintance, he's seeing beyond her outward beauty to the personality underneath and realises that there is something there which is beyond the ordinary.
The lines that stand out for me in the champagne incident are: Arabella, having already cast discretion to the winds, allowed her glass to be filled and sipped her way distastefully through it. It had a pleasantly exhilarating effect on her then Arabella, embarking recklessly on her second glass of champagne...
A man of the town like Beaumaris would have spotted quite quickly that she was becoming tipsy and he is sparing her that. It appears that Miss Blackburn realises that because she found herself unable to form a correct judgement of her host. To be plunged from a conviction that he was truly gentlemanlike (his hospitality of them) to a shocked realisation that he was nothing but a coxcomb, (after his ridiculous conversation with Fleetwood) and then back again, quite overset the poor little lady. So she is recognising that he's done it from a sense of chivalry, not malice.
I suspect Fleetwood is just too dim to realise why, but at least he has the common sense to stay quiet - Beaumaris is glaring at him so he doesn't blurt anything out and embarrass Arabella.
Personally I love Beaumaris. I love the way he is with Arabella, how he takes on Jem and then Ulysses despite the acquisition of both being against his better judgement. I think his eternal hope of her telling him the truth of her own volition is endearing and his visit to the Parsonage, his rescue of Bertram and his taking Arabella to his grandmother's is all further evidence of his all round loveliness! I think he is developed much more than her previous heroes; we hear his 'voice' a lot more than we have of many of the earlier novels.
For me, that is why her straightforward romances work much better, because she has time and space to develop all the characters in detail, rather than them taking a back seat to the mystery.
Ah, ok. I missed the "and back again" <irony> although so does Arabella. She lifts her chin at him again next time he offers her a drink.
So our conclusion is that all a good poor girl needs is a rich man with the potential to be good; and all a rich-and-famous man needs is a girl who doesn't know who he is?
I don't think it's that she doesn't know who he is so much as that she expects him to be kind and good-hearted (although I suppose that's not knowing who he is in a way), and so he rises to her expectations, and at the same time Arabella rises to (although also subverts) the expectations implicit in being the toast of society (which Beaumaris has finagled her into). Perhaps the conclusion is that being taken out of your comfort zone can be character-building?
Yes, I agree with all Lady Damerel's interpretations there. Also about readers seeing a lot of the action through Mr Beaumaris' eyes (as we do through Gilly's eyes in The Foundling). It really humanises the heroes.
oh, I'm glad the thread has shown Robert is A Good Egg because I am very fond of him. I do think he's a decent cove; selfish, bored, over-indulged and cynical but Arabella rescues him from all that.
I do like the nods to social history and morality - rescuing the poor chimney sweep's boy. And Poodle Byng - very pleasing use of a real person as a character.
I often think Heyer is more interested in, and has considerably more affection for, young men/boys than 'romance' - she draws Bertram and his ilk so well. Also shows in her detective fiction.
The chimney sweep won us a pub quiz once.
The tie breaker question was something about what year had it been made illegal to send sweeps up chimneys; I'd been reading Arabella that week and guessed by adding ten years to the date it is set; we won a bottle of good wine.
The Nonesuch Club Incident definitely shows him in a good light, imo. He sees Bertram and Chuffy walk in but everyone in the room is either involved in the faro game over which he is presiding or playing hazard. The only one who isn't is Lord Petersham who is deep in thought and won't be of any use. Damn Petersham! Thought Mr Beaumaris, on the horns of a dilemma. Fleetwood and Warkworth then look to Beaumaris to see what he is going to do about these two unknowns. One blighting word from him, and the stranger would have nothing to do but bow himself out with what dignity he could muster. There was the rub: the boy would be unbearably humiliated, and one could not trust that young fool, Wivenhoe, to smooth over the rebuff. He would be far more likely to kick up a dust over the exclusion of one of his friends, placing the unhappy Bertram in a still more intolerable position.
His concern all the way through that paragraph appears to be for Bertram's position and how he can best serve him. The way the humiliation is described as 'unbearable'; that Wivenhoe would make it more 'intolerable'; the use of 'there was the rub'; it would be an easy thing for him to do but he doesn't like what the consequences of it would be on Bertram so he has to make a split second decision.
As the play begins he starts to realise the extent of Bertram's troubles and wonders what possessed Wivenhoe to bring him to such a high rolling club, then he faces another dilemma of whether or not to accept Bertram's vowels, which he does; again, to spare Bertram any embarrassment.
He then has the third quandary of what to do about the vowels. He wants to tell Bertram that he knows they are meaningless the only use I have for his vowels is as shaving papers, but knows Bertram won't accept that so he allows him to think that he is expecting them to be paid.
Besides, the fright may do him the world of good - he knows Bertram is, at heart, a good boy. He knows from Arabella's actions that they have been raised with strict morals and and firm sense of right and wrong and he is hoping that fear will stop Bertram from going any further down the path he is on.
All of it just tells me that he has Bertram's interests most to heart and he is doing his best to extricate him from the situation he is in with as little damage to Bertram as possible.
I do think he's a decent cove; selfish, bored, over-indulged and cynical but Arabella rescues him from all that.
I think a lot of her heroes are like that, and it's the heroines who make them fulfil their potential of being 'good men'.
I agree with Casey's point that it's Arabella's expectations of him that force him to change. She isn't doing it deliberately, or even consciously, but her upbringing makes her goodness so inate that he can't help but respond in kind.
It's not very far into their acquaintance that he regrets his game of making her the rage of London and starts to harbour genuine feelings for her. At their meeting at Almacks which is only their second or third meeting in London he is dancing with her, finding her shyness amusing because it is an unusual trait among the ladies of his acquaintance, and says something to make her laugh. That did make her look up, and quickly too, her face breaking into laughter. She looked so lovely, and her big eyes met his with such a frank, ingenuous expression in them that he was aware of a stir of something in his heart that was not mere amusement. He does try and suppress the feelings but her influence begins to change him relatively quickly.
That's the lovely bit about "Yes, they are nice buttons" because she's staring at his chest "minding her steps" in her First Ever Waltz, is that the bit?
Unusually GH doesn't have any hand-wringing over the age gap like she usually does. I think Arabella is 17 and Beaumaris 30 - typical, but usually there's a long "he is soooooo old" / "she is sooooo young" bit.
I think GH has woken up to the realism of non-age-matched marriages of the period. A man wasn't established enough to propose until he was 25-30, say, whereas we learn that a woman is practically on the shelf by her second Season, let alone third. A 17/30 marriage would have been more likely than a 25/26.
LadyD - go to bed!
Which year was it set in, Horatia? I've recently been reading Hague's biography of Wilberforce and it is interesting to see how society changes around and because of him, which Arabella would have been part of.
Hello all, I'm a bit late to the thread, but that's because I've got a raging ear infection and have been sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. Fortunately, it's being treated with high-dose antibiotics rather than by "stuffing a roasted onion into the afflicted orifice"
I'm still re-reading so hope to come back later with some more cogent comments. In the meantime, here are a few random thoughts:
I agree with those who think Beaumaris is being chivalrous rather than unkind during the lemonade trick. Presumably it would do rather more harm to Arabella's reputation than to his if she were known to have been drunk and barely chaperoned in the house of such a notorious womaniser - I mean, he has spent his whole adult life being pursued by Paphians and high flyers (and assumes at first that Arabella is one of them), so it would be no skin off his nose if she got hideously intoxicated on his champagne. In fact, he recognises her artlessness (and the deception?) very early on and goes to some pains to spare her further discomfort. If he's guilty of anything, I would say it is leading her on to make more and more outrageous claims just for his own amusement.
The point about absent mothers is an interesting one, and I think it goes deeper than GH just avoiding a plot killer. Somebody (Tony Tanner?) has written about the lack of alive/sensible mothers in Jane Austen's novels, and the moral implications of that for her heroines. The motherless young girl is quite a common trope in fiction of the period, and I think it is meant to tap into a number of contemporary preoccupations - about morality, education, female emancipation, rationality, etc. In an age when few women received any formal education and were instead taught by their mothers, it must have been especially important that those mothers were both available (neither dead like Anne Elliot's/Emma Woodhouse's mothers, nor distracted by the demands of caring for so many children like Catherine Morland's/Fanny Price's mothers) and capable (not ninnyhammers like Mrs Bennet and Mrs Dashwood). So many novels of this period show a young girl learning to become a woman - learning to think for herself and form her own (moral and social) judgements without prejudice - and I think that many of GH's heroines should also be seen in that context.
The point about the social concern is interesting too. Somehow, GH manages to give Arabella a social conscience without making her seem priggish - which is quite clever when you consider the dreary religiosity of so many Victorian heroines! It also seems to me from Victorian novels that this sort of concern with 'reform' was often associated with a rather low-church (lower middle class?) sort of person, although I don't get that impression from Arabella. I may be talking bollocks here, though, so please feel free to correct me!
Also coming a bit late to this, partly because I've been reading the novels so fast that when we get to discuss them I have to go back and reread bits to remind myself of points!
Firstly, although I always really liked this one, like MooncupGoddess I found the deception and the possibility she might be caught out so excruciating that I struggled to reread it. However, now I'm older I just don't mind it so much. I still find it quite shocking to realise just how easily Arabella could have been socially ruined had her lies come out.
My favourite bits are the very early chapters with the family, and again like MooncupGoddess I just love the scene when they are going through the clothes 'Well, it was very like a sack to be sure'. I find it a particularly well drawn portrait considering GH had no experience personally of either a large family or of sisters and yet there's a lot of warmth there.
And I agree with everything LadyD says about Robert and his motivations so I won't repeat it!
Regarding the absent mothers theme. I think it is a common literary device in order to give the character freedom of thought and action that they might not otherwise have had. I think it's also worth pointing out that many women did die young, pre modern medicine, mainly through childbirth, so probably more people grew up without parents than we would expect now.
I don't know enough about the nineteenth century social reformers to comment usefully on it but I would like to know more.
Bad luck re the ear infection, mackerella. Are you following Sir Hugh Thane's example in The Talisman Ring and retiring to bed with a hot toddy?
V interesting comments re motherless heroines. Most of GH's heroines seem to be working out life by themselves (albeit in Arabella's case with the aid of supporting epistles from back home) and several of them engage in behaviour that is borderline 'fast' or socially risky (e.g. Judith Taverner, Phoebe with her novel writing, Barbara Childe of course) that they just wouldn't get away with if they had a mother on hand watching out for them. There are certainly parallels with Emma Woodhouse in particular here... snubbing Miss Bates is essentially the Austen equivalent of racing to Brighton in an open curricle. So being motherless allows not just more plot latitude but more depth of character development.
Venetia of course is the classic GH novel when it comes to mother issues and it will be fun to discuss that in due course.
Would be interesting to think about attitudes to social reform in the late 18th/early 19th centuries as opposed to the Victorian worthiness we are so familiar with. The Becky scene in Arabella is very similar to the Becky scene in A Little Princess... in fact I wonder if GH was subconsciously influenced by Frances Hodgson Burnett here. Will think further.
mackarella, are you planning to go down with mumps when we cover The Grand Sophy ? Your dedication to evoking the atmosphere of the book is laudable...
...and it's just as well I missed out on the discussion of Friday's Child, otherwise I might have come down with the measles, like Isabella! Incidentally, it's notable how physically robust many of the heroines are, and how illness or indisposition is seen as primarily tiresome (all those younger brothers with broken limbs) or embarrassing (aforementioned measles and mumps). Habitual invalids are portrayed as malingerers, although many of the heroines make sensible nurses when someone is really ill.
I'd love a hot toddy, MooncupGoddess but fear that I shall have to decline as I am in an interesting condition (increasing? What's the right GH phrase?)
Adam laughs at Jenny for saying she is "increasing" so I think it must be bourgeois.
(is it triplets though?)
I like 'in a delicate situation' myself. They use that in Venetia IIRC. But I think 'increasing' is OK too - I seem to think GH used it about herself in a letter when she was pregnant. And Letty uses it in April Lady too in a very funny passage when she is moaning about her cousin going on about pregnancy 'You would suppose no one had ever before been in her situation'. I think we can all recognise that feeling! The most obscure phrase though has to be Dysart asking Nell 'you haven't sprained your ankle, have you?' which she, unsurprisingly takes literally. I wonder where GH got that little euphemism from.
LadyIsabella pointed me in the direction of this thread - I think I saw one of the earlier ones.
I read Arabella specially to come along It was one of my first GH, & still one of my favourite. I must be lacking in sensibility as it never really concerned me that she might be caught out in her lies, although thinking about it now it would indeed be absolute social ruin.
I'm another one who likes Beaumaris & thinks that he is a good catch. Re-reading it now I was surprised that he is only 30 - there is so much emphasis on his age & wisdom, & I suppose when I read it as an early teen 30 did seem terribly old. Not so now! I also really like the lively family scenes - GH does them very well, like in Grand Sophy & the teenage bickering in The Corinthian.
I also appreciate the fact that Beaumaris isn't one of GH's cruel & masterful heroes (like Vidal! Or the one in Regency Buck). They make me a bit uncomfortable when I read them as an adult feminist
but I still fancy the pants off Vidal
Interesting about the social reform. I love Arabella in the chimney sweep scene - doesn't she say "I will not be silenced!"?. I agree with the comment about priggishness. I can think of literary depictions of 19th century reformers as boring do-gooders like the Jellabys in Bleak House, but I am not sure I can think of earlier depictions... Hmm. Of course GH is writing under the influence of our decided opinion that sending small boys up chimneys is Not Good. I always think of Blake's London when I read Arabella, because we get scenes of London poverty that we don't get in all of her books.
Congratulations too. Hot toddy without the spirits is,quite nice though, 1 measure fruit juice of choice, honey, nutmeg, ginger which is the important bit to fight infection, and boiling water. Not up to Richard Wyndham's punch but not bad.
Umm, I agree about absent mothers, but disagree that Mrs Morland is really one, I think she is just forced into that to make an academic pattern.
It is pretty useless to talk about high it low church at this period because we are pre Puseyite reform. What we do have is Wesley and the non conformists, and many of them were indeed the industrialists and in some of agricultural areas though less the ones she mainly deals with, as less on large estates where they would have been expected to go to the local church and pay its tithes.
Jenny's father I would have expected to be a non conformist, especially with a name like Jonathan.
I think it's less the wording than how Jenny tells him that Adam finds funny. She is so bald in her statements, poor Jenny. She does not have the elegance of the upper classes.
Point taken about Jenny and Adam. You mean he is objecting to the "well, if you must know..." bit
Posted too soon.
::waves at Rilla ::
Yes, absolutely, as opposed to whispering a little secret or saying with amusement and pride that he might have an heir.
Rilla, welcome. BTW, I've always wanted a bronze green hat like hers.
I sent a contribution on social reform in novels but it got lost. IIRC, really up to the victorians it was expressed either in the utopian novel, Rasselas or Candide, or via Ly Catherine de Burgh taken seriously, or the glimpses in the racier picaresque novels, tom Jones, Fanny hill etc. Mind you, I found Sir Charles Grandison so boring I never finished it. So might have missed things there. There are a couple of early RC novels but they are more about religious choices than social reform.
And so it was down to Hogarth in the arts earlier and Wedgwood in the applied arts, with Wilberforce and idc Cobbett.
One of the things I don't like about Arabella is the implied speech, which seems coy and GH hardly ever uses. That bit quoted above about and goodness it was like a sack rings false with the rest of the narrative standpoint and is less successful imv.
Once again, it has got a good aged person. Beaumaris's grandmother would have got on well with TTR's Silvester.
Indirect not implied. Blast.brain and phone at odds.
Um, the comment about social reform being linked with low church people came from me, specifically in relation to Victorian (rather than Georgian/Regency) fiction - sorry if I've muddied the waters by introducing irrelevant thoughts . I was thinking about later social problem/condition of England/industrial novels, but those of course present a much more thoroughly worked out thesis than is intended in Arabella (where her social conscience is intended to show her character in a more appealing light to the readers of 1949 - who all took it for granted, presumably, that small boys shouldn't be forced up chimneys, so would consequently think that she was a good egg).
Sorry, appallingly confused sentences there and a massive x-post because I type so slowly on my phone!
ds absolutely refused to go up the chimney of the National Trust house we visited that had re-created one especially for small children to try out. I was most disappointed. Youth of today, huh, far too mollycoddled for their own good etc. etc. etc.
(Can't remember which house it was, I'm afraid, but I think it was Staffordshire and it might have something to do with Lord Lichfield.)
Almost certainly Sudeley Museum of Childhood? DS2 panicked half way up that chimney and DH had to follow him and rescue him - I did wonder if either would be seen again!
Aargh, Sudbury not Sudeley, which is a different place altogether.
Couple more good euphemisms for pregnancy, and then I'll shut up about it! Meg Buckhaven (Cotillion) is "expecting an interesting event in the autumn", and Abigail Wendover's sister is just about to "present Sir Francis with a fourth ^petit paquet^" - not sure I'd want to use the latter phrase, though, as it manages to be both twee and obscure!
Mackerella, yes, but an interesting thought. But what about The Daisy Chain, IIRC?
What about The Daisy Chain, thewhistler? Are we talking coy 19th-century references to pregnancy or attitudes to social reform, both of which I seem to remember make an appearance?
I had vaguely thought Arabella was a bit anachronistic in her social concerns - I think of that sort of thing beginning in a big way in the 1830s (cf Oliver Twist, then Mary Barton a few years later). In fact though it turns out there was a major parliamentary report about the awful conditions of chimney sweeps and the dangers to the boys' health in 1817, which is about when Arabella is set - and perhaps explains her knowledge of the related laws which she quotes to Grimes. (I imagine her father would have read about the report in the newspaper and discussed it at the dinner table for the improvement of his offsprings' social consciences.)
mackerella - if a celebrity doctor advises you to follow a strict Reducing Regime, just say no, OK?
Certainly not, mooncup, if "reducing" here is meant as the opposite of "increasing" (eek)! If not, then be assured that I shall lose the baby weight by fashionably banting - I believe Byron used to eat boiled potatoes and vinegar for this purpose.
Oh, diet fail there, as Wikipedia tells me that Banting's Letter on Corpulence wasn't published until the 1860s. It will have to be the Reducing Regime, then!
Ah yes, it's Venetia's aunt who is following Byron's boiled potato and vinegar diet, isn't it. Ugh!!
I think Dr Croft's advice is aimed at not putting on too much weight in pregnancy... I just remember that poor Jenny has to survive on a piece of toast all day, faints as a result and has to be revived by having burning feathers waved under her nose. We can have a good chat about Regency attitudes towards pregnancy when A Civil Contract comes round.
Mooncup, it was the social reform side. Have just bought it on kindle so will reread. Had forgotten refs to pregnancy.
Have also just bought the annals of allmacks, any one read? And a book about the Georgian princesses.
Leonie, thanks for remind me, it was indeed Sudbury. Arf at your dh having to climb up - although I'm glad to know there's enough room for grown ups to rescue small children!
Can anyone recommend good books that fellow Heyer fans might enjoy? Obv. no-one else can write regency romances like Georgette so I'm not looking for them. But a sort of Amazon 'people who bought X also bought Y' thing?
If anyone enjoys detective fiction (thinking of Heyer's sideline) then there's a newish series set in Norfolk with an archaeologist heroine that I'm enjoying. By Elly Griffiths and pub. by Quercus. A Room Full of Bones is one, think the first might have been The House At Sea's End.
It was Dr Croft's reducing diet that may have killed Princess Charlotte and her baby IIRC. I think that's why GH has him in Civil Contract. Although I think Charlotte had a very big baby so maybe it was something like gestational diabetes (I'm making wild guesses here!). However, starving pregnant women is clearly not a good thing.
I'm interested in the issue of when the dire situation of chimney sweeps became public knowledge. When Arabella rescues Jemmy, Lord Fleetwood says 'Shocking brutes, some of these chimney-sweeps! Ought to be sent to gaol!' thus implying the onditions in which these boys worked were common knowledge even if they didn't cause much lost sleep! However, that could of course be anachronistic, as has been said GH was writing from a time when everyone knew going up chimneys to be bad! But although the chimney sweepers act which banned climbing boys wasn't passed until 1875 it seems clear that at least some people had been trying to regulate or stop the practise for the previous 100 years.
Edam, I think the Sudbury chimney is somewhat more generous than the real thing!
Good books that GH fans like. Hmm, be interesting if there's a pattern, I do like other historical books but struggle with most other historical fiction as it tends to be a bit silly. My favourite book of last year (other than GH!) was the Venetia Murray one recommended on these threads, can't remember the title, something to do with High Society.
I loved Anya Seton (was it)'s Katherine about John of Gaunt's mistress and third wife, Dunnett's Lymond series, and the DK Brosters, the Flight of the Heron, the gleam in the north, and the weepy The dark mile.
Doubtless all dated, though there is a group of MNrs who are Lymond fans.
I also think.Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time is a fine work.
On chimney sweepers, there was that terrible story, true but can't recall how to find it, of the little boy who was stolen and then came down in his own house to be recognised and rescued.why terrible I don't know as it has a happy ending, but so scary.
I also read Bernard Cornwell and Philippa Gregory. Once you've read Heyer, accurate period detail matters enormously.
I read one Regency novel where the heroine "tucked into" a breakfast of "blueberry pancakes and freshly squeezed orange juice". In London, in 1810. No she
fucking didn't. IIRC I threw the book across the room before returning it to the library and expunging the author's name from my brain.
I've read some dire Regency novels, and they just serve to show how different Georgette Heyer is from the rest of them! In fact, my bedtime Kindle reading at the moment is this, which is pretty pants - real Mills & Boon stuff, full of cringeworthy romantic cliches and slightly anachronistic language. It's much better than most but still not a patch on GH. I only bought it because it was in the Twelve Days of Kindle sale, and I'd previously read Mr Darcy's Diary by the same author, and remembered it as being mildly amusing - but I think I must have misremembered!
Re the blueberry pancakes and freshly squeezed orange juice: I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss things that sound ludicrously anachronistic (although I'm not sure about these particular items). 10 years ago, the British Museum had an exhibition called (I think) London 1753, which gave a full social history of London in, er, 1753. Among the displays were contemporary menus and shipping import records that showed a brisk trade in olives, spaghetti and parmesan cheese - not necessarily what you imagine John Bull eating at home!
In Cranford, which was set somewhat later but was on tv while I was reading the execrable novel, a single orange was a major plot point as a luxury item, eaten whole with ceremony. The idea of squeezing half a dozen as a drink for a private breakfast would have been just nuts.
Blueberries weren't even introduced into the UK until a century later, and they wouldn't have been imported from America fresh.
So I'm pretty sure about those particular items. Pancakes less specifically I would probably have raised an eyebrow at but been able to ignore; but such a demonstrably ludicrous anachronism, on top of hugely unlikely language and derisory plot, was The Last Straw.
Like I say, spoilt by Heyer, Cornwell et al. who do serious amounts of research and only give detail if it is backed up by contemporary sources.
Interesting suggestions. Anyone who's interested in social history might like an exhibition that's coming up at the Foundling Museum shortly - looking at the tokens mothers left for their children. Seems the buttons and keepsakes weren't actually keepsakes but were tokens of identity, to be used if the mother ever had the opportunity to claim her child- that's why they stayed in the possession of the Foundling Museum rather than being given to the children.
Leonie yes indeed, I meant 'the fake chimney at Sudbury is big enough', I don't imagine real 18th Century and earlier chimneys were big enough for adults to climb!
Ah, I've seen some of those tokens in an earlier Foundling Museum exhibition. They are terribly moving, even to a flint-hearted cynic like me.
Last night I found myself in the Tom Cribb pub off Haymarket - scene of Cribb's boxing saloon, where so many of our heros drop in for a bout with Jackson and are described as 'stripping to advantage' or some similarly snigger-worthy phrase. There is lots of boxing memorabilia - all rather fun.
I have really enjoyed M M Bennetts - two books set during the Napolonic wars and both, I think, well researched and true to the time. Of Honest Fame is a spy drama and May 1812 is more domestically set and with more of a romance edge - but nothing, thank the Lord, like the gawd-awful AMerican Regency stuff.
The other author I like, although more fluffy than M M Bennetts is Stella Riley who has republished her stuff for Kindle. She has a good touch for her historical period and the relationship elements aren't the main focus of the novels.
The Marigold Chain is mid 17th century, A Splendid Defiance is Cavalier & Roundheads whilst The Parfit Knight and The Mesalliance are more traditional Heyer territory - albeit Georgian rather than Regency.
I shall add the Foundling Museum and the Tom Cribb pub to my list of places to visit if I ever make it to the metropolis minus small fry.
Which reminds me, I'm visiting Bath soon without said small fry, which GH places must I be sure not to miss? (DH is gonna love me!)
has anyone mentioned Aristocrats by Stella Tillyard? It's not fiction but it is incredibly readable. In getting that link I saw she has written a novel set during the Peninsular War that I might try.
Leonie, if you get to the Great Wen, look in st the now horrid gift shop at the top of the Haymarket which used to be Freyburg and Tryers until 20 years ago, where worth did not get his snuff but others did. And there is a site on the blackfriars road where mrndoza was based. But the Burlington arcade is really the best.
Gosh. Well, obv the pump room and the slipper bath. You can see the latter from the wonderful la run so inexpensive spa, Thermae.
Royal crescent, Laura place and I think camden place. Stand on the bridge.
Oh my. To be without fry.
Rilla, I found it fascinating and infuriating. But yes, v readable. Was it her or who was it who did a biog of Georgiana Duchess if Devonshire? That was ok too. And someone else the Brummell one.
The slipper bath thewhistler? Don't know about that?
I enjoyed the Arisocrats too, years since I read it though. Amanda Foreman wrote Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire which I much enjoyed but the film less so. I also really liked Alison Weir's Eleanor of Aquitaine and slightly less so her biography of Katherine Swynford (but nothing can touch Anya Seton's romantic effort) she's very prolific but I haven't read any other of hers.
I read long ago all Anya Seton's novels, they vary a lot but are all entertaining. I also enjoyed Sharon Penman, and Dorothy Dunnett, but not the Lymond ones, the other series. Found them very lengthy and convoluted though! In my teens I read a lot of very romantic and silly historical fiction which I wouldn't touch now but Katherine remains a favourite along with one about Lucy Walters, Charles II's first mistress but the title escapes me now.
The Lucy Walters/Waters book is The Child From The Sea by Elizabeth Goudge of all people! I love Elizabeth Goudge though! It is fiction rather than history though but GH and EG must be pretty much contemporaneous so an interesting comparison maybe?
The Little White Horse is one of my all time favourite books - I can't wait to read it with the DDs. I have to restrain myself as I don't want to go at it too early! I haven't read The CHild from the Sea so I shall add that to the list.
Which GH is up next by the way?
I think it's The Grand Sophy
My Child From The Sea is in ragged shreds now, I've read it so much since my adolescence.
I didn't understand for years the significance of Mary's hair. <sheltered>
Mary's hair? Did I miss something? Been a while since I read it though. I'm glad someone else knows what I'm on about though.
Duchess I tried to interest DD in The Little White Horse and she thought it was boring I hope you have better luck. EG was a childhood friend of my granny's <<random fact>>
Will pm you, Leonie, so as not to spoiler it for others.
I'd forgotten The Child from the Sea.
Leonie, was she nice? Has anyone written a biog of her? Have wanted to read one for ages. I'm not a great fun if the Damerosehay series, prefer the cathedral ones and LWH. Also of Rosemary Sutcliff, whose Eagle of the 9 th I reread again and again.
There is a great book called Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson about women of the post-WW1 generation who didn't marry and what they did with their lives. Elizabeth Goudge features in it - as far as I remember she lived a nice uneventful life with lots of books and dogs.
As an adult I find many of her novels a little on the cloying side but I still love Linnets and Valerians, and have a weakness for A City of Bells.
I don't think there's a book biog of EG but there is an online one if you google and an EG society! I believe she was nice, yes! My mum was supposed to be taken to tea with her once as a child but someone was ill and it didn't happen but EG sent her a signed copy of one of her books instead (which I later dropped in the bath, Mum was not amused ).
I loved Linnets and Valerians too, I'd completely forgotten it until now.
I think I read the Singled Out book. I think she had a really difficult childhood, with an ill mother. She does write a bit about herself in one of the anthologies. But thanks for the online recommendation.
I agree about the cloying, but likewise love Linnets and Valarians. I'm v fond of The Dean's watch, in part because I think it is s brilliant portrait of an unsuccessful marriage. I enjoy City of Bells, esp the scenes with Ferranti, and persuading the Dean and Bishop to give money. It Is probably the funniest. And the one set in the chilterns, the something of water, gives a good description of a breakdown, which I go back to.
The Scent of Water?
I have never read Linnets and Valerians <adds to list>
Her adult work is dated but so beautifully evocative of their time, I think. Cloying but touchingly so - she so fiercely wanted to believe in the best of humanity and she longs for some purer age that never actually existed. It has a naivety that is quite seductive at times, at others it just makes me want to spit. But she does have a lot of compassion for humankind's foibles - the awful marriage and the wastrel son in The Scent of Water are very sad.
This is a lovely review of Linnets and Valerians for those who have never read it.
I think I may have to reread her books as I have only vague memories of most, I remember finding them unrealistic but still charming. Maybe we should have a EG book club once the GH one is finished? Might be harder to get hold of the titles.
Abe books has lots second hand.
Oh and rereading that review reminds me I was muddling Linnets and Valerians with Noel Streafeild's The Growing Summer in my head. Another author I loved as a child/teenager and I realise another writer from the same era, I wonder if I'm drawn to their styles or if it was just that Mum knew them and used to get them for me. I don't think they had dated much between her childhood, born in the forties and mine, born in the seventies. They have now dated hugely for my DD born in the late nineties, the world has moved on. Mind you, she's not a reader so I'm sure other children still enjoy them!
I loved The Growing Summer - the kids and I always tell barking dogs where we are going, based on that book. I have all my old Noel Streatfields - DD1 and I tried Ballet Shoes but she was a bit young for it. We'll come back to it later this year, I think.
The Family From One End Street is up next - DD1 shares my fondness for old-fashioned books except for her evil Rainbow Fairy fetish.
I wonder if she will inherit my love of GH?
I love Streatfeild too, and yes, I tell barking dogs where I am going to.
She is brilliant at squabbling children.
Leonie - visit the modistes in Milsom Street, and the Jane Austen museum is worth a visit (you have to sit through a talk about JA first, but then you get into the museum). There's also a museum in the Royal Crescent which is OK, but nothing special.
DD1 is at uni in Bath, and I'm trying to convince her than next year she wants to rent a flat on Great Pultney Street or Laura Place .
Midnight - is that One Royal Crescent, the Georgian house? If so its shut for refurb although there is an exhibition open, I'm not happy! I'm getting a list of places together, headed of course by my very favourite The Costume Museum!
My very favourite Noel Streafeild was The Painted Garden, better, dare I say it, than The Secret Garden! But I loved her autobiography too, a fascinating account of how restrictive life could be for girls of her generation though she broke out quite spectacularly.
The Family From One End Street also great, another one I tried and failed to interest DD in <<sighs>>
oh, and the Assembly Rooms - DD and I took a nuncheon there - but do check there's not a function
which has happened all bar two times I've been in Bath. Last time we were there they had the chandeliers lowered for cleaning, they were fabulous!
Oh, I'd forgotten about The Growing Summer - is that the one in Ireland with Great Aunt Dymphna? I loved that as a child but can't remember much about it now apart from something to do with lobsters
I also read some Elizabeth Goudge as a child (inherited from my mum, along with Children of the New Forest, What Katy Did, Selma at the Abbey et al.) but can't recall much about them. I know I read Henrietta's House and Gentian Hill, so will dig those out of the attic, but it sounds as if I should also try to track down Linnets and Valerians. Thanks for the reminders/recommendations - I'd be very much up for a continued book club once we've done all the Heyers!
I know it's rather later than the books that have been suggested so far, but have any of you read Antonia Fraser (apart from MooncupGoddess )?
Has anyone here read any Eva Ibbotson? She wrote mostly for children but she also wrote half a dozen romance novels, which have a very GH feel to them.
So much so that I found myself wondering if she'd been a fan of GH herself. There's similar literary references, her heroes are unconventionally handsome older men compared to the younger, innocent but independent heroines.
It would be interesting to know if anyone else had read them and picked up on the similarities?
Just checking Amazon for Eva Ibbotson and seen that Daddy Long Legs has been reprinted with a foreword by Ibbotson. I am SO excited - my copy of DLL is almost unreadable, it is so fragile and the pages are falling out. It was ancient when I inherited it from my mother.
You can get DL AND its sequel Dear enemy which is wonderful and about sally mcbride!!
I've read the Streatfeild quasi autobiography about the vicarage children in Eastbourne or wherever, hut did she write a proper one?
Sorry, Ballet Shoes is best. Painted Garden pretty good, apple bough ditto, also the one where he inherits a big house and his father is having a nervous breakdown with PTSD, and of course the growing summer.
Yes, up for a book club.
I used to read Anne of Green Gables and the Emilies, Katy and you can get the sequels to Katy. Lots more of them. In a high valley etc.
And the books about the Marlowes. Not e books, alas.
It's The Quiet Gentleman after The Grand Sophy , isn't it?
Can anyone enthuse me with a passion for parting with ready cash for it -- I've only read it once, over twenty years ago, and my recollection is that it's another book where she gets carried away with the mystery element and we lose a lot of the interest of character interaction as a result. But maybe it has hidden depths.
(But then we're onto Cotillion which is another return to form IMO, so overall I'm happy)
Yes, that's right. The Quiet Gentleman has its moments, but mostly I agree it is a bit disappointing with too much mystery and not enough character development.
Coming very late to this, but absolutely agree re excellence of Noel Streatfeild, particularly The Painted Garden and The Growing Summer. Curtain's Up has always been a favourite of mine, too. Her autobiographical The Vicarage Family is very good, and shows that she bases many of her novels on her own experiences (Jane in The Painted Garden is very much the young Noel) but with some sugarcoating... her childhood was really painful and difficult at times.
Casey can you get it from the library? It's not one of the better ones IMO.
Yes, The Vicarage Family is the one I meant by Streatfeild's autobiography, I know she changes their names (I have a feeling she used their real middle names) but I think it is an autobiography nonetheless. And the later one 'Away from the Vicarage'. I think she would have been a fascinating person to meet It's interesting that there is often an undertone or background of adult mental health issues in her books and yet they manage not to be bleak.
I've not read Eva Ibbotson but shall add her to my lists. Daphne du Maurier is anther early 20th century writer I devoured when I was younger.
Will someone please start a Sophy discussion? I have read it but can't get on the pc and can't write essays on smartphone
Done it but can't link as on phone and its short and full of typos.
Over to you, Horatia. And everyone else
Ps. Fawn hope is brilliant, forlorn hope, fawns, etc. The Dishonorable Alfred is pretty good too, though I always wonder when Alfred came into usage.
Synpathises in the final sentence. Bleep phone. Bleep eyesight.
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