Review of Georgette Heyer’s Regency Romance novels
I hesitate to write of Georgette Heyer’s novels in that they resemble nothing more than pale shadows of Jane Austen at her not very best. Heyer’s novels centre around getting married in the time of the Regent, 1795-1837, in England. The plots are improbable, the dialogue gets tiring and yet, and yet, they are delicious. No less a writer than A.S Byatt, among others, has sung her praises and I can definitely recommend them for those readers who have worn out Pride and Prejudice on their CD players. Georgette never fails.
Let’s be clear. The heroines are always virtuous, if a little careless, and the heroes, are not... That makes for some interesting stories. Kidnappings, near rapes, some interesting duels, getting into scrapes with the law and (more importantly) people of the Ton, getting out of scrapes, getting money, losing money and then, of course, shopping. It is rather dizzying. Heyer is good with details, bad with editing. She goes on at length about the way a ball gown is draped, but neglects to do the one thing that all good novelists should do, move the plot along. So, perhaps perceiving that the reader is lost somehow in the folds of a necktie, she retrieves him, (or her), stuffs her in a coach with her heroine, and drops them in a Vauxhall rout. Wait, weren't we supposed to be eloping with Valdor? Or was it Charles? The other problem with Heyer is that she loves to stuff us full with dainties - characters that are either straight out of Dickens or out of Bronte. A harsh villain may bear a close resemblance to Heathcliff while another father figure seems a tad like Daniel Peggotty. We do love these characters, but perhaps not quite so many in such short novels all enacting such Cheltenam tragedies! Her use of the vernacular of the times is brilliant, I want to be bedeviled, blue as begrim, or perhaps have a fit of the vapors. Life was so much more lived then. There were orgies, balls, duels, gaming, rakes and penitence. Above all, in Heyer, there is penitence.
Laurie Schut Louise Riley Library