Tuesday, April 08, 2014

G for Georgette Heyer

(1902-1974)

I stumbled upon Georgette Heyer in my school library and loved her right from the start. This British author was born in the 1900s in Wimbledon, London. However, she chose to set her novels a full hundred years back, in the Regency period. 

What a glorious time that was!  Women in elaborate gowns and even more elaborate hairdos topped off by insanely expensive hats; men just as fashion conscious with their cravats that could be arranged in a hundred different ways, their breeches and stylish coats; balls, soirees, phaeton rides and hunting parties. Oh I do love it all and Georgette Heyer brought it to life.

The beginning

Her journey in writing began with story-telling sessions. When she was just 17 her brother fell ill with a form of Haemophilia and she began a serial story to entertain him. Her father, who had always encouraged her to read, loved the story and thought of getting it published. The book appeared as her first novel ‘The Black Moth’ even before she turned 20 and then there was, to use a cliche, no looking back. Georgette Heyer was one of the most prolific writers coming up with a mystery and a romance each year. Some of her well-know books include Devil's Cub, Talisman Ring, The Grand Sophy, Sylvester.

A meticulous researcher

Given that her novels were set in a period she had never seen, she researched every single aspect of that time. Wiki tells me her library included about a thousand reference books. She would make note cards on almost everything no matter how insignificant. She read up histories of snuff boxes, sign posts and costumes. She sorted her notes into categories like beauty, hats, household, prices. She made extensive lists of phrases on topic like food and crockery, endearments, forms of address! Whew!! Some effort there, which is why for a long time I thought she actually belonged to the 19th century.. so authentic was she. She's another one inspired by Jane Austen.

Not one for the media

Her third book – These Old Shades (my personal favourite) – was released during the time of the UK general strike and got no promotion at all.. no reviews, no newspaper coverage, nothing. Yet it sold some 190,000 copies. After that she refused to give interviews completely.

A combination of romance and mystery with liberal doses of wit

.. that’s what you find in her books. Her heroes were typically serious yet appreciated spirit in their lady and enjoyed a good laugh. Her heroines were often young. They were always effervescent and unaffected and very very romantic. More often than not Heyer threw in a dash of mystery which made her books even more exciting.

And now I'm off to reread her. Did I tell you, you can read her books over and over again and enjoy them each time? Yes, well you can.
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And for tomorrow's clue - an H, this lady, has to her credit, just a single published book that won a Pulitzer and became classroom material. Okay.. let me make it easier the book is told from the perspective of a 6-year-old girl. 
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This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, 2014 for the theme AMAZING AUTHORS.


Also linking to the Ultimate Blog Challenge.




46 comments:

  1. I haven't read her though I've seen her books in the library.
    Let me pick up any one of the books you have mentioned here..

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    1. A warning... Don't get discouraged by the first few pages.. The books get super interesting.

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  2. Once you are done with a to z I won't be doing any inky pinky ponky while selecting books. Bookmarking this.for furture reference :)

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    1. Lol.. you do inky pinky while picking books?? Too sweet.

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  3. What I got out of this post is that no authentic work is accomplished without lot of effort and preparation.I haven't read her.You make me look for her books.

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    1. Absolutely.. specially if you're not writing contemporary stuff.

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  4. Appreciate your informative posts and I am making my 'list'

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  5. I know Heyer through my school library..Glad that my school had good collections!! I haven't read much of Heyer's!! Will read soon, I have some collections

    ~S(t)ri
    Participant|AtoZ Challenge 2014
    Smile, it makes (y)our day!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah me too. We had a great library and such a strict librarian - she made sure we read the right books.

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  6. I have'nt read her. But this surely goes to my must-reads :) Thanks a lot.

    Shalzzz|Loving Life
    Check out my latest at TaleofTwoTomatoes

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  7. I haven't read her! Great post, you know I'll keep coming back to your A-Z posts after April! :)

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  8. My personal favourite. In fact, just finished re- re reading ' The Black Moth' online! Did not know it was her first. Think it's time I started a Georgette Heyer book festival all over again!!

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    1. Yes I know.. that she's your favourite and The Black Moth trivia is mentioned in my post :-D

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    2. Yessssss and hence I know now!

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  9. I think I read her once but can't remember...Loving your theme..this is so helpful in picking up books of great authors :)

    Random Thoughts Naba

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  10. Heyer is another lovely writer. I like the depth in her work and the attention to detail that she employs. Need to start looking for her books again!


    ~Shailaja
    A to Z Challenge, 2014/ UBC, April 2014

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    1. Ditto Shailaja I was impressed with the amount of work she put into her novels and yet remained so prolific.

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  11. New to me again, so bookmarking this for future :)
    And waiting for the bird :D :D ( you know what I mean ) :D

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    1. Sreeja... Good girl.. Perfect guess.

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  12. This is new to me...never read her. It was an informative read, Tulika, and I particularly liked the fact about how thorough Heyer's research was. Today's writers - both fiction and non-fiction can learn so much from her! Especially our so-called darlings of broadcast media...

    A very good post!

    Beauty Interprets, Expresses, Manifests the Eternal

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    1. That's what impressed me too. What an amazing lady.

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  13. I havent read her either! I guess I'm going to say this on a lot of your posts in this series!! Glad to read these introductions :) I'm sure I'll keep coming back to these..

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    1. Priyanka knew it many would have read Georgette Heyer but the series is about my favourites and I did want to put her down on y list since I read her so much in my teens.

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  14. Tulika, you are a girl after my own heart!! I absolutely LOVE Georgette Heyer. I had no idea what a phaeton was until I read her books.
    And I can't believe that you too list These Old Shades as your number 1. Same pinch! We have to meet!! :)

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    1. Glad to have met you These Old Shades is such a cute one, isn't it?

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  15. I havent read her... But regency period set novels always have a charm around them

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    1. Oh yes.. I love that time. It was all so grand.

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  16. She sounds lovely, haven't read her but want to after your review. I will have to make another shelf for all the new books I will be getting soon :)

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  17. No, have not read her at all. I am impressed by the research she did for her books.

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  18. I think the way she reasearched for her books is remarkable....
    Going to make a note of it...

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  19. I have never read her books but love reading stories from this time period, especially ones that involve royalty and the nobility. Very thorough, concise, and interesting write up! ♥

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  20. Interesting...I have never read her but from your description her writing sounds very interesting. And the era she describes happends to be my favorite too...maybe because am such a sucker for history :) Thanks!

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    1. You'll like the books then, Kajal.

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  21. Never read her books but you make them sound so exciting. Will have to research her book.

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    1. Do look her up Suzy. You might like them.

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  22. Haven't read her books, but romance, mystery and some wit - sounds very intriguing... Very niceely written piece about her, Tulika:-)

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