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Guilty Pleasure - Georgette Heyer and other Historical Romance

(26 Posts)
dreamofwhitehorses Sat 28-May-11 18:50:48

God I love Georgette Heyer, and I'm not even going to pretend to be ashamed about it, well written, witty and historically accurate. And all based in my favourite period of history. However I need something else in the same vein to relax with. I'm pretty fixated with the Regency, and it has to be accurate and literate - any suggestions?

MrsDanverclone Sun 29-May-11 09:38:48

I adore Georgette Heyer books as well and unfortunately nobody can write them the way she did. But Mary Balogh is good for historical accuracy and I've quite enjoyed some of her books, Lisa Kleypas also writes well and within the historical context of the Regency period and Jude Morgan's Indiscretion, was a very 'diverting' read.
I am currently researching my way through Regency writers and there is some utter drivel out there, but I keep hoping I will find someone, even a bit close to Georgette Heyer and with a whole back catalogue of books, waiting to be read.

DumSpiroSpero Sun 29-May-11 10:04:30

Have you listened to the 3 Georgette Heyers audiobooks (Venetia, The Convenient Marriage & Sylvester) read by Richard Armitage? Yum! smile

meditrina Sun 29-May-11 10:16:54

I love Georgette Heyer too!

You might like to try Vanity Fair by William Thackeray. It's one of my all-time favourite books.

dreamofwhitehorses Sun 29-May-11 10:49:43

Thanks, MrsDanverclone, I've seen Mary Balogh mentioned before, but hadn't seen any of her books available. However just checked on Amazon and it looks like they've recently been republished, so I'm quite excited by that. I do sort of know that there's not going to be anything out there to equal Heyer, and you're right, there is some awful dross out there. I have lowered my standards a bit, I think I'd settle for a lightness of touch, and written by a genuine Heyer fan. I have to appear to be well read in my job, so when I read purely for pleasure I don't care if its fluffy.

Oh and if you haven't discoved it yet, Stephanie Laurens - what a pile of f*cking sh*te.

I can't imagine a Heyer audiobook, epecially read by a man. Good choice of titles though. My faves change all the time, but Sylvester has to be a favourite, what with having a heroine who is an author.
Haven't actually read Vanity Fair since a teenager. Will search it out again.

MrsDanverclone Sun 29-May-11 11:35:38

The audiobooks read by Richard Armitage are definitely yummy, I have indulged when tackling a huge ironing mountain. Although I have to confess, I could listen to Richard Armitage read Caravaner's Weekly and still enjoy it.

Definitely agree about Stephanie Laurens, I actually shudder when I see her books and can't believe people read such crap. Our libraries have loads of her books, so they must be popular.
Eloisa James also does Regency and makes loads of really silly mistakes, that 2 seconds on the internet would solve. One of her books mentions the hero licking ( or wanting to lick, can't remember which now) Yorkshire puddings from the heroine's naked body. Now I love Yorkshire puds, but would find them quite difficult to lick from even the naked body of Richard Armitage ( although I am prepared to give it a good try!)

Anne Gracie's The perfect Rake, has one of my favourite Regency heros outside of Georgette Heyer, Gideon, he is wonderful.

DumSpiroSpero Sun 29-May-11 12:24:23

Although I have to confess, I could listen to Richard Armitage read Caravaner's Weekly and still enjoy it.

Well, yes. I have even sat through 10 discs of Bernard Cornwell's 'Lords of the North's purely in the name of comparative research of course!

As for your yorkshire pudding theory - you'd have to beat me to it grin!

MarshaBrady Sun 29-May-11 12:36:33

Why is Georgette Heyer a guilty pleasure? I think she writes well, does she have a reputation for being inferior or trashy? (obv not you as you write you are not ashamed etc, but I've seen this said a few times on mn and am curious).

DumSpiroSpero Sun 29-May-11 12:55:23

On a more literary note - would North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell be worth a try. It's Victorian rather than regency and a bit grittier than Heyers but a good story.

MrsDanverclone Sun 29-May-11 17:10:19

Oh DumSpiroSpero there's bit of a theme going on here isn't there!
But I would second North and South the book, plus getting the DVD , just because then you can compare Elizabeth Gaskell's literary classic with the BBC adaptation and nothing to do with the fact Richard Armitage is playing the hero ( thankfully without a Yorkshire pudding in sight.)

DumSpiroSpero Sun 29-May-11 23:43:07

Oops - sussed out blush!

Tbh my forays into historical literature have been very recent and a result of spending lots of time on this thread which you may also appreciate! grin

edam Sun 29-May-11 23:56:59

Marsha - because she wrote romantic fiction which was (and still is to some extent) sneered at by people who think they can divide books into 'literature' and 'mere entertainment for people who are not as smug clever as us'. These people are not half as bright as they want everyone to think.

LadyPeterWimsey Mon 30-May-11 00:04:22

Heyer fan here, out and proud. Will be taking all these suggestions on board but am not optimistic about finding even an approximation. And Venetia is my present favourite.

PasstheTwiglets Mon 30-May-11 07:23:17

Hello all, another Armitage Heyer fan here! I adored the audiobooks and they were my first introduction to Heyer. I liked them so much that I have got the books and am working my way through them (the audiobooks are abridged so it's nice to read the bits they missed). I've read The Convenient Marriage and am halfway through Venetia but once that and Sylvester are done, which would you recommend next?

MarshaBrady Mon 30-May-11 07:50:51

Thanks Edam grin. I realise now the one I read must have been a detective one. There was a wealthy cousin with black hair and his sneering ripostes were brilliant.

edam Mon 30-May-11 10:18:54

passthe, I'm especially fond of Frederica, personally, try that.

Marsha, the critics were even more sexist and patronising about her detective stories - the original sleeve notes claim she got the plots from her barrister husband. Which I doubt - real life isn't like classic mid-20 Century detective stories, for heaven's sake! (Although her detective stories aren't as superb as the romantic fiction, tbh, they are still v. amusing.)

edam Mon 30-May-11 10:20:00

Sorry, not the sleeve notes, that would be daft. Some contemporaneous stuff I've read somewhere....

CJCregg Mon 30-May-11 10:29:28

Hello, can I join in? I'm a massive fan too.

I think part of the snobbery towards GH is to do with the volume of her output - people assumed that she was churning them out a la Barbara Cartland. And they were cheap paperbacks, therefore not 'literature'.

I bloody love them. The Grand Sophy and Friday's Child are my all time favourites. I have yet to find an alternative though, so shall watch this thread with interest.

edam Mon 30-May-11 10:34:13

Friday's child is lovely. Georgette Heyer has a real affection for and understanding of boys and young men (in a nice way) - look at Felix in Frederica.

MarshaBrady Mon 30-May-11 10:40:52

Sounds great, am going to read some more.

MrsDanverclone Mon 30-May-11 11:12:34

My favourite Georgette Heyer books are These Old Shades, Devil's Cub, Venetia, Sylvester, The Unknown Ajax, The Masqueraders, Faro's Daughter, The Grand Sophy, Regency Buck, Arabella and the first one I read when I was 12, Frederica.

I just love reading them and they are my comfort books in times of stress.

generalhaig Mon 30-May-11 11:59:22

Jane Austen??

dreamofwhitehorses Mon 30-May-11 13:37:30

Heyer was disparaging about her own writing and I wonder if she felt the need to get the criticisms in first, because I can’t believe she did not have tremendous fun writing them. She did write to a formula but her dialogue is just wonderful, and informed by her extensive collection of personal correspondence from the period. She is also only concerned with the aristocracy, and has no interest in exploring life for anyone outside the upper social circle. (Dan Cruikshank’s Secret History of Georgian London, is fascinating if your interested in the other side of the coin).
But for genuine romance, escapism, comfort, and humour, she just really can’t be beaten.
Favourites off the top of my head include Frederica, Arabella, Black Sheep, Venetia, Devils Cub and Lady of Quality, but I wouldn’t like to be pinned down to a favourite.

Galaxymum Mon 30-May-11 18:53:17

I've never tried Georgette Heyer but feeling very tempted with all the recommendations. I do love historical fiction with strong social detail. I enjoyed My Last Duchess and didn't think I would. I think I'll have a go with one of the popular titles.

edam Mon 30-May-11 20:10:46

Ooh yes, do try Heyer, Galaxy - she is beyond compare as a writer of historical romance.

Dreamof, I think I read somewhere that she saw her romantic fiction as fairly trashy (as if!) and wanted to do serious history. She spent years working on what was intended to be a trilogy, IIRC, but didn't complete it - think Lord John is the only book that survives of the intended work. BUT her romances were incredibly good history - her description of the Battle of Waterloo was apparently used at Sandhurst. Have read that somewhere and had it confirmed by an officer (who would have been at Sandhurst in the 50s, no idea whether Heyer has fallen out of favour since then). It is both accurate and incredibly moving - rings home the fact that these were real people (and horses) who really suffered.

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