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Georgette Heyer, does the Alastair chronology work?

(41 Posts)
Themodernuriahheep Wed 27-Jan-16 21:27:21

My brain has gone to mush atm and as I was trying to go to sleep last night, I was trying work out what the supposed chronology was of the Alastair family in the novels in which they appear. I have not checked against the events nor the costumes nor googled, but wondered if others had.

We know that Avon, let's call him Justin, was out in the 45. We know that when he meets Leonie he is at least 45. So assuming he was 25 in 45 ( to make the arithmetic simpler) that would mean they get together in 1760. If 35 then 1750. Going with that one at the moment.

(If I checked the age of Conde I might be able to specify. )

Mme de Pompadour didn't die until 1764 but was Maitresse en titre from 1745.

We know that Vidal takes Mary to Paris before the Revolution. So let's assume he is a little older than her, about 23. Let's assume he was born in 1751. So he's there in 1774.

New generation arrives whom I think we never meet, let's assume in 1775. This is where I start to get stuck.

We meet Babs in An Infamous Army in 1815. She has already been disastrously married and fortunately widowed iirc. I can't recall if we are told how old she is. But if she is eg 23 she would have been born in 1792. I can't recall if she is older than her wastrel brother, but if not new generation as above would have had to have DTD in wedlock at the age of about 17.

Clearly, by plying around with Avon's age we can make this just work.

But, critically, I cannot recall in which year Regency Buck is set. But Judith has at least one smallish child by An infamous army, and Charles has fought and been wounded in Regency Buck.

Please tell me, someone, that it all does work and how you have worked it out and what the refs are?

Themodernuriahheep Wed 27-Jan-16 21:28:52

Not if not, if so.

Becles Wed 27-Jan-16 21:33:21

I do know that An Infamous Army is supposed to be a set text at Sandhurst and due to the military details.

Not my favourite series although I heart Vidal and Mary's story.

Themodernuriahheep Wed 27-Jan-16 21:47:06

I love TOS too, not so funny as DC, but v well plotted and I love the moment when she says I would so much prefer to be the last woman than the first.

Not sure if it still is on the Sandhurst list.. Have you seen a film is coming out about the Duchess of Richmond's ball?

LapsedPacifist Wed 27-Jan-16 22:16:57

I need to sit down and work it out properly. IIRC, Heyer admitted that the chronology was faulty re. an Infamous Army, but she adored the characters so much she just couldn't resist bringing them back one more time [smil].

Avon is at least 45 and Leonie is 19/20 in TOS. I don't recall that we are ever told how old Avon was during his involvement with the '45 rebellion. My own feeling it's entirely possible he became involved with the rebellion in his omnipotent spider capacity, as a powerful and middle-aged member of the elite, NOT as an an idealistic young man.

Vidal is 24, Mary is 20 in DC.

In AIA, Barbara is 25 in 1815, so born c.1790, and Mary and Vidal are described as being in their 60s.

The only way this chronology works is if:

1) TOS is set immediately after the '45 rebellion, c. 1746, when La Pompadour had just become Maitress en Titre. This might explain Avon's extra snooty attitude towards her grin.

2) DC is set 25 years later in 1771;

3) Mary and Dominic's son is born in 1772;

4) He marries very young (not at all unusual amongst the elite aristocracy at the time) and Barbara is born in 1790.

<Must get out more grin grin grin>

Themodernuriahheep Wed 27-Jan-16 23:33:00

Lapsed, yes, I thought that was what she had said.

It just about works with the Alastair side, and your suggestion about him being an eminence grise or in secret would square with his estates not being under attainder ( unless he had repurchased them with the proceeds if his infamous gambling exploit but I had always assumed that they could not be sold however as would be entailed) .

Thanks for doing the arithmetic and refs. I was lying there in the dark last night listening to DH trying to recall what I could. I think George was older than Bab, while Harry younger? Harry's death is I think one of the most moving bits in GH. "He always used to call me the Old Lady".

Not sure about the Worth side though.

I go off Judith big time in IAA. Judith presumably married worth when she was just 21. Baby born year after. Need yo check against settings.

Going out? Pah. Nonsense. What's winter for but to exchange comments about books? Ok, if you are in Oz, might need to be reformulated as what's life about but to...

Or as another author should have written, There is nothing, my friend, nothing,so much worth doing as messing about in books. Nothing...

LapsedPacifist Thu 28-Jan-16 00:39:08

Everything I know about history I owe to Georgette Heyer. Well, almost!
I was v. tempted to give her a credit on my (18th Century subject) undergraduate dissertation 2 years ago, but wiser counsel prevailed, even though my history Prof. adores her too! grin. I had read ALL her historical novels by the age of 14, but this was the early 1970s, there wasn't much on telly back then and I was a serious fat spotty history spod. My gran, a totally self educated working-class woman born in 1900 introduced me to her books when I was 11.

My Aged Mama (87), who now sadly has early dementia, never reads books by any other author. She is incapable of retaining new information but is so familiar with GH's novels that they are an endless source of delight to her. And it is so lovely to have a common interest which we can discuss intelligently, without her feeling out of her depth.

LapsedPacifist Thu 28-Jan-16 00:51:59

Interesting point about the estates and the attainder. Had always assumed the Alastairs were so uber-elite (apologies for mixing languages and metaphors) that they could get away with anything.

But it would make sense for Avon to be able to get away with (discreetly) snubbing Jeanne Poisson at the start of her career rather than 5-10 years later.

Oh God, I wept when Harry died! GH always wrote very young men so well, with such humour and affection. I always loved Aubrey! Apparently it was because she had such a close lifelong relationship with her younger brothers, and her first novel was inspired by stories she told to one of them when he was a teenage invalid.

Always assumed Regency Buck was set c. 1811-12?

Themodernuriahheep Thu 28-Jan-16 00:55:49

I'm with you, timing and all...I enjoyed her so much more than Jean Plaidy and those Angelique books, though I have a soft spot for Margaret Irwin and DK Broster.

Not so fond of beauvallet.

Current alternative sleep ploy is to work out how many major v minor characters there are as a lit trope. Usually the major couple, a contrasting minor couple, an unpleasant or eccentric parent + one or two others. 6-8 major, minor as plot demands. Arabella bucks the trend. No minor couple in TOS. Dc fulfils the criteria. Ditto quiet Gentleman.

Lovely to have something to enjoy with your Ma. It's a distressing time and the good bits are really important. Sympathy. GH is exactly the right sort of thing. Let other pens dwell on ...I could talk GH for hours, must go to sleep.

Becles Thu 28-Jan-16 06:08:12

I want some tv adaptations rather than the increasingly awful Austens we've had recently. Then I think what if they are like the really bad Austen? Has anyone else seen the Reluctant Widow on YouTube? Worht it for the sheer WTF that runs through you as you watch.

florentina1 Thu 28-Jan-16 08:32:07

I have only just started reading Georgette Heyer. I would love some recommendations with a bit of background to the story, if anyone has the time.

Themodernuriahheep Thu 28-Jan-16 09:44:46

Be less, didn't even know it existed. Shall enjoy being outraged.

Flor, everyone has their personal faves. What have you read so far? Which bits do you enjoy?

florentina1 Thu 28-Jan-16 14:27:03

I have read Venetia and Fredrica which I enjoyed they were mN recommendations. I liked the humour and I enjoy history .

HelenaJustina Thu 28-Jan-16 14:32:17

Heyer said that the chronology didn't work but that she enjoyed the characters and her fans were asking for more of them as well.

The biography by Kloester is excellent for this kind of detail!

MyVisionsComeFromSoup Thu 28-Jan-16 14:36:46

we've been trying to make DD3 read GH, and thought we'd failed till Frederica. Thankfully she's realised that she was entirely wrong to dismiss GH's entire oevre because she didn't especially like the Grand Sophy, and has actually introduced her English teacher to GH - apparently she'd never heard of her shock. What kind of people are we allowing in our schools etc etc etc.

Can't help with timelines, although we did have a brilliant idea about a wikipedia-type website which cross referenced every character and place mentioned in every book, plus real life events mentioned.

diggerdigsdogs Thu 28-Jan-16 14:37:39

I'm so envy that you have so many GH to look forward to florentina! The grand Sophie is great.

I've only read AIA once and didn't enjoy it. blush

My last conversation with my grandmother was about GH and how much we loved them.

I suspect my penchant for slightly overbearing, older men is down to reading too much GH as a teen

Sadik Thu 28-Jan-16 15:19:22

I'm amazed there isn't a Georgette Heyer wiki! (Have just checked, and there really isn't.)

Not convinced by the idea of adaptations, I have a feeling they might be horrible grin

LapsedPacifist Thu 28-Jan-16 17:21:25

There was a truly dreadful film made in 1950 based on 'The Reluctant Widow'.

I've often thought that in the right hands many of her novels are eminently screenable. There is so much witty dialogue to play with and there is a huge public appetite for all things 'Austenish'. 'The Grand Sophy' would be brilliant!

Talking of Wikis, I've just noticed a major error on the official GH Wiki page, which states that: 'Heyer's romances were set between 1752 and 1825.' Heyer is on record as saying 'I finish in 1818' and none of her historical novels are set later than this date.

Themodernuriahheep Fri 29-Jan-16 00:18:07

And it's wrong about the beginning too. I defy anyone to say that Beauvallet and Simon are set in or after 1752.

Flo, Venetia and Frederica, two of my faves, are the maturer heroine end.

One that is a brilliant portrait of an arranged marriage, iis A civil contract. Adam has to marry money to endow his sisters and get the estate out of bankruptcy caused by his father' s gambling and spendthrift ways. Less romantic. It's probably one to read a bit later.

For romantic romps, generally with younger heroines ,read These old shades, followed by Devil's cub. dissolute English duke known as Satanas to his friends rescues urchin/ waif from slums of Paris under Louis XV , read on to find out why and what happens. In Devil's cub, his son has to flee the country as a result of a duel. He is determined to take his lady love, one of a pair of sisters. Sone v v funny bits. Two generations later, it's the run up to the battle of Waterloo. This is more a brilliant history of the battle, in some ways the love story is less important.

Another feisty young heroine, Arabella, the beautiful daughter of a poor Rector , is sent to Londpn to make a good marriage to help her family. She is, alas, impetuous and her tongue gets her into trouble from the outset, her actions later. some good feeling for the period, one of her more socially conscious ones.

Regency Buck, the beautiful heiress Judith comes to London with her frankly tedious younger brother to meet their guardian appointed after their father's death and have a good time . They find to their horror that their father got the wrong generation and they have a supercilious man of fashion instead of a nice old buffer. Scenes in the Brighton Pavilion. You can still see on the top of the Haymarket the shop where the guardian got his snuff, although alas it now sells tourist junk. Regency, the Prince a Regent makes an appearance.

The Grand Sophy. Sophy' s widowed diplomat father is off to Brazil and won't take her, although she was his hostess in his previous posting in Lisbon. She is therefore sent to live with her cousins, who are in a state of gloom. Sophy decides to cheer them up. surprise is the essence of attack.

Sylvester. Sylvester decides he should get married for the sake of the succession to his dukedom, although he does have an heir in his late twin's son, but hasn't fallen in love. He is sent down to meet the unconventional Phoebe Marlow, whose late mother was a dear friend of his mother, but who doesn't want to marry him, resents being looked over as though she were a horse he might buy, and wants to live with her governess and write novels.

Friday's Child. Hero is an orphan living with some pretty awful cousins. Her old playmate Sherry who has been to propose to another of their friends comes across her crying as she has been told she must either marry the curate or teach in a school. There are some wonderful bits with remarkably stupid men. V funny.

Mnrs, ok? Diff to tell story without spoilers..

Notreallyanewuser Sat 30-Jan-16 19:39:59

My favourites are Grand Sophy, Frederica, Venetia, Devil's cub and the Reluctant Widow. Might have something to do with the maturer heroines. Don't partic like the Foundling, a civil contract or Beauvallet. Cousin Kate somehow unconvincing.
I may have read them all a few too many times....

Themodernuriahheep Sat 30-Jan-16 22:23:33

Love All of those + TOS and A Civil Contract.

Two more plots

Reluctant widow. Napjleonic era. Eleanor is on her way to a new appointment as a governess. She gets into the wrong carriage, however , when she gets of the coach, and and finds herself embroiled in a family and national sized issue, with traitors, spies, a very bouncy dog, one obnoxious and one delightful young man, and the latter's two older brothers. Not to mention a secret stair. And pretty awful Sussex accents.

A civil contract. Adam sells out of the army fighting against Napoleon when his father dies. He has had an understanding with Julia, one of the most beautiful girls of the London season. But such is the dreadful state of the family finance, caused by his father's spendthrift ways in gambling, loose women and horses, he faces bankruptcy. His choices are to go down that road, losing the estate and causing problems for his sisters, or marry money. Neither involves Julia. This is not the traditional light romp, it is instead a very human and touching novella, with a really good historical feel for London running up to the battle of Waterloo.

Florentina hope these are helpful.

Themodernuriahheep Sat 30-Jan-16 22:28:39

I can't recall How many are set in bath.

There's the one with Emily and Rotherham and heroine and MIL and Hector

There's the one with ? Abigail is it and Miles and is Fanny in this one?

Is there another?

bluebump Sat 30-Jan-16 22:32:13

I'm just marking my place here. I have managed to pick up about 16 Georgette Heyer books in the charity shops now (9 in one shop at one time, result!) and am currently reading Frederica (and loving it!). I got the Georgette Heyer biography out of the library the other week too, that was interesting.

Becles Sun 31-Jan-16 08:17:16

There's the one with ? Abigail is it and Miles and is Fanny in this one?

That's the one with the Wendover family. The Black Sheep I think.

Becles Sun 31-Jan-16 08:22:38

Ok. I made promises and here it is, part 1 of the Reluctant Widow on YouTube:

The only comforting things that my search uncovered was the fact that some angel has put Heyer audio books on YouTube. Must check them out to see if any good.

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