As the patroness of two online discussion lists, Janeites, for Jane Austen Fans, and the Georgette Heyer discussion list, I am just the audience who Kloester’s is aiming at with this book, and I have to say she absolutely hit the mark! This is an extraodinary book and one which I will be happily recommending.
I get questions all the time from people who want to write Regency novels and are looking for a good overall book to guide them, and from others who want to know more about the Regency and Georgian world which Heyer inhabited for her unique Drawing Room romantic/comedies. Generally I give them an outline of a series of books which they could read which will give them some background, but there has never been a truly comprehensive book which is both academic, readable, spefcific to the period and general enough to cover everything but still give a confident grasp of detail. This book finally does that and well done to Kloester for acheiving that.
Her chapter summaries at the start give you a very good idea of the information covered so you are able to get to what you want immediately – chapters include Up and Down the social Ladder, Town and country, Man’s world, Gentle Sex, On the Town, Pleasure Haunts, Fashionable Resorts, Getting About, What to Wear, Shopping, Eat, Drink and be Merry, Sporting life, Business and The Military. Whos Who in the Regency includes extremely useful appendixes such as glossary of cant terms, newspapers and magazines, Heyer Books, a timeline, reading about the Regency, where to go next and so forth with some excellent references for easy access – I was also flattered to find my own website in the www addresses so thanks for that, too, Jennifer.
I was surprised to see a reviewer saying that there was no new information in this. I strongly contest this. Kloester has done more than simply rehash old information, she has provided some new insights for me (I never knew for instance that Rotten Row was originally Rue de Roi – or street of the King) but she has used her extensive knowledge of Heyer novels to reference items in the Regency.
This is not the sort of book where you can find analysis of Heyer’s novels one by one – Hodge’s excellent work, The Private World of Georgette Heyer which has just been reissued is definitely the book for that. However you can read about Regency life in here with reference to Heyer’s novels.
I would highly recommend this to all Regency fans, those who wish to write a novel, and those who simply wish to understand more in one handy reference book. This is an excellent jumping off point for further reading, but it is also an extremely good book for any fans of the Regency, knowledgeable or otherwise. I will definitely be reading anything else Kloester publishes!
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: William Heinemann (6 Oct 2005)
Jane Aiken Hodge wrote the first critical perspective of Heyer’s books, and it is one of the most useful books. Not only is it an insight into Georgette Heyer’s world, but also a glimpse into her own life. Hodge had access to her diary’s and notebooks, a privilege not extended to anyone else until Mary Fahnstock Thomas did her critical perspective. (Also very good)
The Private World of Georgette Heyer should be put into perspective. It shows the development of Heyer’s writing, from the first episodic book she wrote for her brother (Black Moth) and published at the age of 17, to her experiment with modern novels (All Suppressed) to her experiments with writing mysteries, historical novels, her movement into her most famous genre, Regency Romances, and finally to the works she considered her most eponymous – that is, Medieval fiction. Her last work was left unfinished, and was published as such. It is perhaps her most disliked by her modern readers.
Heyer is not necessarily recognised by the wider public as the woman who spawned the Regency Romance genre. She was badly copied by the likes of Barbara Cartland, but as Heyer’s fans know, Heyer did hours of painstaking research on her subjects. Hodge does an excellent job of showing this in this book. Some of the illustrations Heyer copied from books and magazines in the British Library are reproduced, but more usefully, Hodge goes through each book and allows a chapter for it and Heyer’s life at the time. Usually there is a struggle with the Inland Revenue involved as Heyer seemed to have to write to pay the tax bills more often than not.
There are occassional lapses where Hodge makes minor mistakes on books etc, these are pretty forgiveable in a book of this scope and they usually don’t affect the understanding of Heyer and her books too greatly.
For anyone wishing to understand Georgette Heyer, or get a greater understanding of the period in history she was writing about (or living in) this is an excellent work. If nothing else just flick through and look at the pictures. An extraodinary woman, and a very private life well illustrated.
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (6 April 2006)
Anne Woodley is an Amazon top 500 reviewer as well as the patroness of Janeites, the Internet discussion, as well as mistress of the Regency Ring. Her excellent page, The Regency Collection is a treasure trove of information.