I love Georgette Heyer – do you?

During my various traipsings around the internet (traipsing sounds so much nicer and more fun than ‘surfing’ don’t you think?), I have noticed an ever increasing amount of people discovering Georgette Heyer’s Georgian romances. I’m thrilled by this as I adore her books, but I must admit that I am also a little annoyed too because she is MINE, all MINE.

Okay, that sounded a bit mad. I’m envious too, of course, with that ridiculous envy that strikes when someone discovers a best beloved author and reads their books for the very first time. Oh, the bliss of an unread Georgette Heyer. There’s nothing quite like it.

This may be a surprise, but I didn’t actually like Heyer’s books the first time that I tried to read one. I was about nine at the time though and my grandmother, who had a vast collection, had been trying to get me to read Cotillion for quite some time. Sadly though, I just couldn’t get into it and so Heyer had to wait a couple more years before I picked up Friday’s Child and it all clicked into place.

You never forget your first Georgette Heyer. I adored Friday’s Child and still do, in fact. I loved childish, sweet natured, guileless Hero with her dusky ringlets and wide eyes. I swooned over her arrogant, handsome, impetuous Sherry and day dreamed about their lovely house on Half Moon Street. It was just perfection.

After this I moved on to These Old Shades and fell madly in love with the Duke of Avon. I have naturally titian hair so felt a deep affinity with the lovely Leonie and of course I was thrilled by the descriptions of Parisian high society and Versailles as presided over by Louis XV.

I’ve read them all since then. People ask all the time about which ones are best to start off with and I always recommend my favourites: Friday’s Child, Cotillion, Venetia, The Grand Sophy, The Conventient Marriage. Oh and Bath Tangle, Frederica, Regency Buck, Black Sheep, Lady of Quality and The Nonesuch.

I’ve noticed my taste changing subtly as I grow older too – when I was younger I dismissed A Civil Contract, which I always think of as being Heyer’s Persuasion, as boring and pointless but now I love it, I really do. It’s the story of an officer who inherits the mortgaged to the hilt family estates and so has to turn his back on the rather dim society girl that he is madly in love with and instead marry the less appealing daughter of an immensely wealthy businessman. It’s a gentle but heartwarming tale, which appeals to my grown up sensibilities but the younger me thought it frankly depressing.

I used to prefer the more frivolous books with pretty, rather silly heroines and rakish heroes but now I find myself turning more often to the Heyers with mature heroines, such as Venetia, Serena in Bath Tangle, Ancilla in The Nonesuch or Abigail in The Black Sheep – confident, independent women who know their own minds. When a lot of people think of Heyer’s heroines, it is the simpering misses in their empire line dresses that they think about but to me the archtypical Heyer heroine is all flashing eyes, witty retorts and ready laughter. Either way they always have a sense of humour.

Heyer heroes also improve with age – no’one could be more charming than Freddy in Cotillion but I think that if I had to choose between him and Lord Damerel scattering rose petals for me or Oliver Carleton snogging me on a sofa then I’m sorry Freddy but we’ll catch up over lunch at the British Museum sometime. Or maybe you’d like to take me on a tour of the sights of London? I know of a great guidebook…

It’s not just the hero and heroine that make a good Heyer novel though. My favourite male Heyer character isn’t even the hero – I have a serious crush on Gideon in The Foundling, who is the cousin of the main male character and is basically unspeakable HOTNESS personified. Oh my. He is just one example of the fabulous and unforgettable incidental characters who crowd Heyer’s books and are just as brilliantly drawn and real as the main couple.

It’s sad that so many people continue to dismiss Heyer as frivolous, stupid or frothy without giving her books a chance. I think my vocabulary is pretty good (sorry, but I do) and still have to look up some of the words that she uses as some of them are so arcane. This isn’t simple English written for dullards, not by a long chalk. They are seriously funny too and the dialogue is always extremely witty. As a writer myself I really appreciate this – all too often I have had a character hyped up as ‘clever’ or ‘witty’ and then fallen into a panic when they open their mouth and er, oh dear, maybe I should stick to writing about unfunny idiots. Not so Heyer – the dialogue in her books crackles and shimmers with life.

Besides, you can’t write off Heyer’s novels as being frivolous and written for grannies because Stephen Fry is a fan, so there. I also get a little thrill of happiness when they get a mention in the books of Jilly Cooper, Raffaella Barker and India Knight. Yes, all the best heroines are Heyer fans these days. In the case of Barker’s Venetia, they are even named after them. And I say this as someone who has a son whose first and middle names come from two favourite Heyer characters: Felix Gideon. Yes, that’s right. I took it a bit too far.

If you get a group of Heyer fans together then talk with inevitably turn to television and film adaptations or, more precisely, the lack of them. There is a film version of The Reluctant Widow, which came out in Heyer’s lifetime but apparently it appalled her so much that she refused to allow any more.

However, it now transpires that she badly wanted her books made into films and there’s even recently been a Cranford style version planned with three of her books given an intertwined storyline – I’m guessing it would be Regency Buck, Devil’s Cub and An Infamous Army maybe as they are already linked by common characters.

Wouldn’t it just be fabulous to be able to watch a Heyer adaptation on lazy Sunday afternoons? I hope it happens one day!

Do you love Georgette Heyer’s books? What’s your favourite? Do you swoon for any particular heroes? Come and tell me!

I saw Dr Jennifer Kloester talk about Heyer’s life and books at the RNA Regency Day this weekend and she revealed that Heyer’s books were often published unseen and unedited. You’d never guess would you? Heyer herself used to write her books in a  matter of weeks and would send off the first draft, which would then be published. Wow.

84 thoughts on “I love Georgette Heyer – do you?

  • Jan Jones

    What a fabulous post! So very, very similar to my own Georgette Heyer experience.

    I think my favourite book has to be The Grand Sophy because it is just so CLEVER. But I also adore The Reluctant Widow, Cotillion, The Toll Gate, The Quiet Gentleman, A Civil Contract (ditto all the way on that) .. oh, I could go on through the whole list!

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Thank you! :)

      Oh yes, The Grand Sophy is such an amazing book! I love Sophy so much and the end is just amazing. I love that Cousin Charles is just not a romantic hero at the end – it just makes it all the more fabulous, I think because you know that he is raging with passion and also furious with himself for loving her. It’s brilliant.

      Oh me too – it’s so hard to choose just one favourite isn’t it?!

  • Marisa Birns

    Am shamed to say I have never read a Georgette Heyer book. But you’ve stirred the pot of interest for me. Will follow your recommendations for books to read first.

  • Rebecca Brown

    I adore Heyer. You’re right, you never forget your first. Mine was The Talisman Ring, which is still in my favourites list. Top have to be the Alastair books (cheating though. If forced to specify then Devil’s Cub); Venetia – damerel was my first intro to a Bad Boy hero; Frederica – the passage where he realises he loves her is etched on my brain; sylvester – I love that there’s a shy heroine, and she is spot on.
    Too true though about the secondary characters – Lord Rupert unfailingly has me laughing aloud every time.

    Fantastic post Mme G! X

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Oh I love the Talisman Ring – it’s so dashing and romantic! :)

      Is that the bit in Frederica when they are at Hampton Court and he looks at her and realises? That book is fab and Felix is named after Felix in that! :)

      I used to have such a crush on Lord Rupert! How sad is that? :)

      Thank you! x

  • Emma Darwin

    What a great post! I too am a Heyer fan – if I have any ear for a decent sentence it was trained by her, and her craft and technique is second to none; watch her handling of point of view, for example, or structure. Also sharp, humane, highly intelligent (it’s the meeting of minds that matters to her, as Jane Aiken Hodge puts it in her biography, not four bare legs in a bed) and very, very funny. Oh, and yes, properly romantic.

    Dameral and Venetia every time for me.

    Jennifer Kloester has a new biography of her coming out in October -Georgette Heyer, Biography of A Bestseller – which tells all the things that Hodge couldn’t tell, or didn’t know about everything including the big plagiarism scandal…

  • Bluemoon1944

    My first Georgette Heyer was These Old Shades which my Aunt gave me when I was about 8 and I was hooked. I have recently had to start replacing my copies as I have read them so many times that they are falling apart.

  • JackyHSF

    Have been reading and re-reading Georgette Heyer for over 40 years now (started practically in my cradle, of course). Despite umpteen re-readings of each and every one, I still get immense enjoyment every time I pick one up – rather like an old and cherished friend.
    There’s nothing dumbed-down about Heyer’s writing – it’s crisp and sparkling and her ability to effortlessy (for the reader) evoke the period is brilliant.
    I would be hard put to name an absolute favourite – that might well depend on what I was re-reading at the time – but The Grand Sophy, Venetia, Friday’s Child (my ‘first’ Heyer), The Nonesuch, Sylvester, Black Sheep, A Civil Contract and An Infamous Army are all well up there.
    Great post – I share your enthusiasm – thanks.

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Thank you! :)

      They are the ultimate comfort read aren’t they?

      I hate it that people dismiss it as fluffy and silly and assume it must be badly written when in fact it is extremely intelligent. I think a lot of people assume that if something is popular and fun to read then it must be drivel, but that’s just not true!

  • Helen Wake

    Well, I’ve never read any Heyer, but might well do so now! I just wrote really to say how much I LOVE your web site and read it every day. Where do you find such beautiful pictures for every article? I am constantly printing off my favourites for my “inspiration” file, and particularly liked the Tissot painting today. Steampunks dream on! Isn’t that recipe for Pigeon Water just too disgusting? I’d read about it in a make up history book, and it helps to remember that things were different then! We must also remember the other things that Versailles smelled of, sweat wee-wee and dog poo. Has anyone tried that “Sillage de la Reine” perfume that was brought out at fabulous cost? I’d have loved to try it!
    Many many thanks,
    Vive La Reine

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Oh you have a treat coming to you if you decide to read one! :)

      Thank you SO much for the lovely comment! I’ve been ‘collecting’ paintings for ages now and keep them all stashed away awaiting their moment on the blog! :)

      I love that Tissot too – her dress is superb!

      Oh gah, yes, the Pigeon Water must have been disgusting! Versailles must have smelled revolting!

      I haven’t tried Sillage de la Reine yet alas, but would love to if I can get my hands on it!


  • Alithea

    The Foundling is the only Georgian one of hers I’ve read so far, I keep meaning to read more though!

  • Morticia

    I am about halfway through a Civil Contract at the moment – it’s vying for my attention with The Hand That First Held Mine which is excellent so far.

    I just love the way she makes me see the costumes and the details of the grand houses as well as the characters and the intrigue. Plus I love the way she gently pokes fun at herself and her heroines as well.

    I’ve read a couple of the detective stories too – not as enjoyable as her Regency Romances but still fun nonetheless.

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      It’s a great book isn’t it? :)

      I love the amount of detail in her books – you really can imagine it all!

      Oh yes, I love her detective novels – they’re very similar to Christie’s.

  • Ruthi

    Actually, the anti-semitism really put me off, which is sad, because otherwise The Grand Sophy was really a lot of fun.

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Oh yes, the money lender in The Grand Sophy? That does strike a jarring note. I think that’s the only incident like that in her books – I don’t like it, of course, but I think that is the attitude of the age. I always assume incompetence over malice when I find stuff like that in old books. Unless it actually is said maliciously.

      Which doesn’t make it right at all but I’d be far less forgiving (actually, I’d be appalled) if I found it in a more contemporary book. :(

      • Jan Jones

        But but but… My understanding is that Jews at that time were barred from a lot of professions. Money lending was one that WAS open to them, and I guess some of the more unscrupulous took advantage.

        I wouldn’t use a minor villain like that in my own Regencies without putting in an explanatory phrase about the mores of the time, but GH was writing in a different social environment.

        • Madame Guillotine Post author

          Oh, that would make sense. I didn’t know that they were barred from certain professions and so had no option. How awful. :(

          I didn’t like the way that he was portrayed as so villainous and it did make me feel uncomfortable but as I said, I just read on past it while reminding myself that Heyer was writing in a different age about people living in yet another different time. If she had written it now then I think it would give me a lot more pause.

  • Sandfly AKA traveller in time

    I discovered Miss Heyer when I was about 15, and even at Uni I had my Uni reading pile of books and my ‘enjoyment’ reading pile which featured Miss Heyer’s books. It was a welcome break from Catch 22 and Slaughterhouse 5.

    Favourite? Lawks a mussy, I love so many. But as mentioned in a previous post, Cotillion has been a lifetime favourite. With the delightful Freddy.

    Also rather fond of Ferdy Fakenham (and if memory serves his Greek friend who was forever sneaking up on him when he least expected it) – I laugh whenever anyone mentions ‘Nemesis’.

    Mmmm, some favourites include (not in any order):
    Friday’s Child (Ferdy, George and Gil are hilarious)
    An Infamous Army (Judith and Bab annoyed me but I’m interested in Waterloo and her research gained praise from serious historians)
    These Old Shades (well Avon!)
    The Talisman Ring (Hester is wonderful, I wanted to call the son I never had Frederick Ludovic and I always had a thing about smugglers.)
    The Masqueraders (Loved Prudence)
    Faro’s Daughter (I like a feisty heroine but she got a bit mushy at the end)
    Sylvester (Phoebe was a writer – nuf said)
    Venetia (Orgies with Damerel)
    The Reluctant Widow (A secret passage)
    Simon the Coldheart (Sometimes I like to wander about in history)

    I loved the humour in her novels. The quirks in people’s characters. I also liked her histories. I read most of her detective stories as well but they never got to me in the same way.
    Tried to get hold of the Great Roxhythe but at $125 it was too expensive. I haven’t read her modern romances: Barren Corn, Helen, Pastel and whatever the other one was.

    I used to be on a Heyer reading group many moons ago but mostly I just like reading the novels and being enormously amused and entertained. AND her detail is incredibly well researched – she didn’t make many mistakes.

    Also read her biography. It seemed she really wanted to be a serious historian and never liked discussing her novels with fans whom she seemed to deplore. Being known as a ‘romantic novelist’ didn’t give her the learned audience she sought. I find that sad, because she was an incredible and witty writer of ‘romantic comedy’.

    In fact she only kept one fan letter, from ‘a woman who had kept herself and her cell-mates sane through twelve years in a Romanian political prison by telling the story of Friday’s Child over and over again’.

    And yes the movie of The Reluctant Widow was terrible, in fact it was so terrible it was hilarious.

    In spite of being one of her deplorable fans, she is one of my favourite authors! And her books are happily rubbing shoulder with Miss Austen’s and Fanny Burney’s ‘Evelina’.

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Haha, I think of Cotillion whenever anyone mentions Nemesis. And then I think about Miss Marple. ;)

      I like the detective books and the Regency/Georgian books but haven’t fallen quite so in love with her other historicals, alas. :(

      I remember reading the Joan Aiken book when I was a little girl. I loved the story behind the book and really admired her dedication as a writer with all those reams of research and the love and thought that went into her books.

      That story about Friday’s Child is just amazing isn’t it? I can totally imagine that happening – her books do somehow just stay with you don’t they? :)

  • Alison

    I absolutely love Heyer! My Aunt bought me my first book, which was Lady of Quality. Took me a couple of goes to get into it, but then I was hooked. It was quite hard to get some of the Heyer books back then, so I considered it quite a feat when I’d collected them all!

    I absolutely adore the Duke of Avon, he’s my favourite character, love Black Sheep, Venetia and probably my most favourite is Sylvester. A flawed but marvellous hero!

    Must lie down and fan myself now, maybe with a Heyer novel?

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Ooh, love that book! :D

      I really like Sylvester – it’s had a bit of love on this thread, which is more than it usually gets! I’m surprised by some of the books that haven’t had a mention like Cousin Kate for instance or The Corinthian. Oh gosh and I forgot April Lady! :)

      Ooh yes, I think Avon is possibly the most popular Heyer hero, beside Damerel. Her more foppish, scatterbrained young gentlemen have their charms but it’s clear that actually we’re all after a bit of a reformed rake! :)

      I think a lie down is definitely in order! :)

      • Alison

        Oh yes, the reformed rake. I’m paraphrasing, but I love Avon’s line to Leonie at the end saying that she will not be the first woman he has loved, and she replies that she would so much rather be the last. Very touching without being gushy I thought.

        Another one that touched me was An Infamous Army, one of the few novels that has ever made me cry actually.

        Thank you all for commenting about Heyer’s books – it’s just reminded me also how much I love The Masqueraders! Robin and Prudence, yay!

        • Madame Guillotine Post author

          Oh that is such a lovely sentiment isn’t it and also not sugar coating the truth. Too many books make it so that the characters have no past at all or that their past is not as bad as supposed or whatever when in real life, we all have something and there’s no point hiding the fact!

  • Catherine R-W

    First read; Arabella; WLTM Mr Beaumaris (come on, where are you???)

    Love: Arabella, These Old Shades, Frederica, The Grand Sophy, The Masqueraders….. could go on :-)

    I remember reading a very good article comparing GH and Jane Austen; one point made was that where JA assumed contemporary readers, therefore didn’t need to go into much background descroption, GH knew that her readers needed the description to help fill in the pictures in their heads; and wonderful it is too; not at all condescending.

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Haha! Mr Beaumaris is so fab – I’m not as fond of Arabella as the other books as I find chimney sweeps really upsetting! Lame, I know. I do like Mr Beaumaris though! :)

      Oh yes, that’s very true isn’t it? She really does a fantastic job of giving all the details and really helping you imagine it all but at no point do you ever feel patronised or talked down to. It’s really an amazing feat as there is SO much detail that it’d be easy to feel really condescended to! :)

  • Lucy

    I just LOVE the Corinthian! Great post, as usual- and- You absolutely, positively always post the most gorgeous pictures/photos. thanks!

  • Nancy Kelley

    Ah, I love Heyer! My first (and only, to date) was The Convenient Marriage. I was hooked when Horry told Rule she had the family nose.

    I downloaded two more to my Kindle this week: The Grand Sophy and False Colours. In theory I’m saving them to read on my flight; in practice, I don’t think I can wait 6 more weeks.

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      I love The Convenient Marriage! Horatia is adorable and I love that it is set in ‘my’ period rather than the Regency. :)

      Ooh, I couldn’t put off reading The Grand Sophy! It’s one of her very, very best! :D

  • Jenny Eatwell

    Here comes a confession : Georgette Heyer has been singularly responsible for my including the word “singularly” in my vocabulary. :) I have also developed a liking for rakish fellows with hawkish noses. There is no coming back from here. ;)

  • Anne

    Just wanted to say how much I love G Heyer!! I have even gotten my husband to read her–he and I both love to read and he says she writes his favorite dialogue. I agree!! Have to weigh in with my favorites–Sprig Muslin, Black Sheep, Arabella, Devil’s Cub, Reluctant Widow, Cotillion, Foundling, Venetia and the Toll Gate. What books, besides Jane Austen’s (which I also love), would you recommend as an alternative to these Heyer’s? I haven’t found any other author that I enjoy reading as much.

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Hello! Hurray, another Heyer fan! Isn’t she fabulous! I’ve tried to get my husband to read them but he is a bit scared, I think!

      Ooh, well, I really like Burney but it’s not to everyone’s taste. I’ll have to have a think about this as to be honest, I haven’t found anyone who could touch her. :(


  • nneiberg

    Where has Georgette Heyer been all my life? I read Black Sheep in early Dec and have been ripping through the GH catalog ever since, currently on Devil’s Cub (and thanks to this blog I now know that the Duke of Avon has his OWN book! Yay!) I have several friends who are authors, mostly British, and they all mention Heyer and how they adore her books. I really didn’t “get it”, thinking typical Regency romance – how wrong I was. The humor is what gets me every time, such wonderful humor and superb writing.

  • nneiberg

    I just finished Devil’s Cub – HOW has this not been made into a movie? I understand that two companies have owned the film rights for years – what gives? I’m now engaged in imagining which actors would be best for the roles…Now back to used book store to look for These Old Shades.

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      I know, right? It is so dramatic – I used to reread the bit when Mary meets Avon over and over again as it was so thrilling and he’s so amazing and so is she and oh, it is just perfection!

      I think she stipulated in her will that there was to be no more films made. Such a pity as times have moved on and I bet they could be adapted amazingly!

  • carol

    I so agree. If only I had the whole list of her books ahead of me still to read. I have her full collection, even 2 or 3 copies of some of them as my older ones are falling apart. I love them all – these old shades, fredrica, tollgate and talisman ring, grand sophy… oh they are all just great.

    Her way with words keeps me chuckling and I feel I know her characters personally.

    If anyone could give me another author who comes close, I would love to know about it.

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Oh same here! I have old and new copies of quite a few of her books – I just adore them so much and always have some lent out too. :)

      I think she was just such an intensely intelligent and funny writer. It’s a shame that people dismiss her books as ‘fluff’ when they are a zillion times more entertaining and insightful than a lot of the stuff that is published nowadays. Still, I’ve noticed that her fanbase is growing all the time…

      I would love it if someone came along who was just like her. That would be just amazing!

  • sarah wolfe

    I just got started into GH and I love them! I want them all!!!
    My favorite but (not first one!) is These Old Shades. I j’adore Avon!
    And I wish I could be like Leonie even If I don’t have red hair.
    The first one I read was Cottillion and it got me hooked!
    By the way I love your pictures! Wher do you find them?

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Ooh, it’s lovely when you first get into Heyer! :)

      I’ve been collecting the pictures for years and years – they come from all over the place! I have a degree in art history so have a bit of an eye for what I like! :)

  • kingdomkm

    I love Georgette Heyer! I really enjoy listening to the books on audio. The different voices bring the stories to life. A Civil Contract is one of my favorites and it is a bit sad. But it ends happily and shows the difference between reality and infatuation. My other favorites are Frederica, Nonesuch, and Grand Sophy. I love how Sophy creates havoc but does it with love.

  • levantate

    I discovered Georgette Heyer’s books about a month ago and have been working my way through as many of them as possible since then. I’ve just read Sprig Muslin and enjoyed it a lot, particularly the second half of the book; and today I started reading Venetia. Hooray for Heyer!

  • Claire

    I’ve read about twenty Heyer in the last month – my boyfriend is thinking of staging an intervention…
    My first was The Old Shades. Unlike most people on this thread, it’s not my favourite Heyer though it did help me get hooked…
    My favourite so far are: Venetia, Cotillon, Faro’s Daughter, Arabella, Frederica, Lady of Quality, Black Sheep, Devil’s Cub and The Grand Sophy of course!
    I wasn’t so keen on Regency Buck, finding the love interest too detestable even when he did turn out to be the good guy. I must also confess to abandoning rather rapidly the Masqueraders. Seems to be a big hit here, but I just couldn’t get into it at all.

  • NoorElBahrain

    hello all, I am a fellow Georgette Heyer fan and I am trying to start a campaign to have her books adapted by BBC or ITV into a mini-series. The start of my campaign is to pick the best book to be adapted in the poll over here -> http://wp.me/p1FDyQ-c

    hope my fellow fans vote :D

  • Carma

    Georgette is number one in my books! I think – it was a *very* long time ago, but I think my first Heyer was Beauvallet. Loved it! Love them all! My very number one favorite is Venetia; I think it may be the most perfect book ever written, quite frankly. But I do love them all, from her more affected early efforts to the perfection of manners in her more mature novels. No one draws a character or writes a witty piece of dialogue quite like Heyer!

    All of the ones mentioned here as others’ favorites are of course my faves too: Grand Sophy and Arabella and Sylvester and so many more! Did anyone mention The Quiet Gentleman and The Toll-Gate and The Nonesuch and The Unknown Ajax? Much as I adore the idea of Damerel strewing rose petals for me, no one has a sense of humor like that great lubber Ajax, Hugo!

    I enjoy a good Regency novel even though they so rarely approach the quality of Heyer, but check out Joy Freeman’s A Suitable Match. Sadly she only wrote a couple of novels, but I do believe A Suitable Match might be considered to be at the head of the line of Heyer wannabes.

    • Carma

      PS: I meant to mention that Ezra Pound, a rather severe literary critic who was a contemporary of Ms. Heyer, enjoyed her work! So there, people who think she’s fluff! ;-)

  • Mary Wright

    There’s always something new to discover on reading a Georgette Heyer novel – even for the tenth time. Her language is so witty. My favourite, though, has to be ‘These Old Shades’ followed by the ‘Black Moth’, ‘Devil’s Cub’, and ‘Frederika’.

  • bookcooksing

    I have been a Georgette Heyer fan for almost 18 years now. My all time favorite is -The convenient marriage and Frederica. The best definition of love is when Frederica feels that she does not know love at all… only that it is being uncomfortable and sometimes irritable when you are not with the person…

  • Jenny Haddon

    Absolutely and utterly agree with you about Captain Ware. The first novel I ever tried to write — well, finish — was his story.

    And I have to admit a huge weakness for Hugo in The Unknown Ajax. tried to convince Naxos to record it read by Sean Bean.

    Gorgeous website!

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Ooh, do you think you might return to his story? I think he’s heavenly. :)

      Wow. Sean Bean reading The Unknown Ajax would be the best thing ever! Can’t believe that they didn’t go for it! :(

      Thanks so much! xx

  • Tig Lang

    My rather forbidding ex-headmistress great aunt read Georgette Heyer: my beloved grandmother said they were rubbish (!). Result: I didn’t try one until I was 50. Result of reading one (Devil’s Cub) – I was hooked. A very happy year tracking them down in charity shops, second hand bookshops, and online later, I bore everyone with how brilliant she is, and have nearly got all of them. A woman in Barnardo’s bookshop asked me which is the best one to begin with and I was totally stumped – mind a blank – how to choose? Just reading the comments here has left me feeling I really need to re-read them all NOW!

  • sandalwood

    Ahhh back to Georgette Heyer land, after so long … and wound up here! Voilà!

    Also hooked at 15, read everything I could get my hands on, but its never quite the same again, is it? But wait 30 years later.. Joy oh joy! Kindle has the the key and I slip through a door into a lost world. No more searching barren book shelfs, I have made my escape.

    I am back in the library in Paris, powered hair and lace at my sleeve, Avon holds me in his iron grip and omnipotent gaze. Cool, cold devil. I have returned to him once more, supplicant and chased, no other man could hold me as he could, a fool I’ve been. Too many rocks have been turned, frogs kissed but foolish infant – there is only one Avon.

    Here’s the Masqueraders my friends Pru and Robin up to their old tricks (wait… let me read that again) … nothing changes. I am literally shaking when Sir Anthony traps Pru’s hand as she tips his burgundy down her sleeve! Bravery, suspense and detail, perfect details.

    I am waiting for Sofia to arrive and Kit and Evelyn are on their way, to confound and enchant me again. I shall drop by at the Worths and speak my mind to Bab (shocking behaviour, although I know she means no harm) and wander past Halfmoon St, till I reach home at last. Oh lud, I am home!!

    P.S. Could Black Moth be the first Alister book? the plot just reeks of the next door neighbours.

      • sandalwood

        Do you think that Charles Dance could play Avon? In my mind he would have to dye his hair, but the hooded eyes are bang on and he has the ‘twinkle’!.
        After posting last night I stayed up for hours trying to think who could play Fanny?
        Meanwhile I re-embark on The Unknown Ajax.
        Thank you so much for all the recommendations ladies and a perfect site!

  • Julianne Donaldson

    I love this post! I have loved Georgette Heyer since my friend introduced her to me when I was a junior in high school. My favorites are The Convenient Marriage, Frederica, and The Corinthian. But it has been many years since I’ve read her works, and I think after reading this post I should revisit them and see what strikes my fancy now.

  • Elizabeth Dennis

    I absolutely LOVE GH! I love all of her regency novels, with the exception of “A Civil Contract” which like an earlier poster I found depressing, but my absolute favourites are “The Grand Sophy” “Venetia” and “Lady of Quality”. And “Regency Buck”. And “Devil’s Cub”. I could go on! I live in Gloucester and a lot of the surnames in “Lady of Quality” are actually places near me e.g. Wychwood, Stinchcombe. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that if I ever have a daughter she will be called Corisande! My niece is called Sophie and I have just bought her a first edition of “The Grand Sophy” for her to read when she is older (she’s 3!). I also bought a foal before Christmas (he was 8 months old) and I named him Talisman. I unashamedly admit that I wish I was born in the Regency period! And if I EVER win the Euromillions lottery, I promise you GH fans, I will buy the film rights of all her novels and get Andrew Davies to write the screenplays.

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Haha, that would be brilliant! I hereby vow the same thing! :)

      I considered Corisande for a prospective daughter but had boys in the end – the elder of whom is named for Felix and Gideon. :)

  • Lucie Zeale

    I love heyer too!

    I had a proper filip of heart when alverstoke looks at frederic and another when he tries to propose and she is thinking about pork jelly. Its definately also true that your taste in them changes as you grow up, when i was younger it was all about The Devils Cub and Fridays child and Cotillion, now i am older and I like ones like Black sheep and The Nonesuch.

    most swoonworthy one has to be Dominique – you cant beat being shooting a higwayman in the head as in introduction!!
    Alverstoke is definatly sexy too.

    i am worried about an adaptation if they did one would it be to introduce new people or would it be a fan pleaser? the fan favourite would my the grand sophie, very good for being full of character and lovely story but really i have never been convinced that Charles makes a good leading man I much preferred Lord Charlbury!

    For fresh audiences, these old shades or Sylvester would be better for introduction.

  • jean

    Great post, beautiful pictures! Just finished Sylvester: The Wicked Uncle — the third time around. I’ve been a long time fan of Heyer’s and never get bored re-reading her books. I too am looking to seeing one made into film.

  • K J Anderson

    I am a 68 year old male. Love Pride and Prejudice and have read is a gazillion times. Was looking for something similar. ( Not much into other Austin). Discovered Heyer.
    So far: Favorites: The Grand Sophy
    so so: A Convenient Marrage
    Did not finish: Venetia
    These Old Shades
    ( guess I don’t like the rakes so much as you ladys but maybe I should try these again)
    reading now: Cotillion ( probably will finish )
    I like the feisty smart women (like my wife :^) — what should I read next?

  • Elizabeth Scott Andrews

    These Old Shades was the first one I read, and still a favourite…. As to Heyer’s being a second-rate writer, my mother — who was a student of C.S. Lewis’s at Oxford — loved the books, particularly the fact that the research into the period was so detailed. No one ever utters an anachronism or wears an outfit that wasn’t invented until later, as happens in so many period novels. The idea of a first-class film (imagine The Grand Sophie!) is a great one.

  • Sarah Waldock

    an excellent encomium of Georgette Heyer’s work – my favourites are Toll Gate, Unknown Ajax, Venetia, The Masqueraders and I too have come to Civil Contract with more enthusiasm as an older reader. I don’t suppose you happen to know who owns the rights nowadays do you? I want to use a couple of characters in a book just as a tribute

  • Femmy

    My favorite secondary characters lately have been:

    * The father of Freddy, et al in Cotillian. Hoohahhh!

    * Another is Sir Adrian, the father of the two boys in the 2 mysteries.

    I certainly believe they are both one and the same person!!!


  • Suellen

    The Grand Sophie was my Heyer introduction, complements of an old friend with great taste who found it by accident in a library in Florida of all places. I have more to read from her, but my favorite so far is These Old Shades, though I have no clue why she picked that title!

  • Sarah Waldock

    I read Frederica when I was 8 and fell in love with Felix. My favourite is Unknown Ajax, followed by Toll Gate, Venetia, The Black Sheep and The Masqueraders. Apparently I have a weakness for large, strong, masterful dependable heroes… ok, Damerel isn’t that dependable but he could be when he stops wallowing in self pity and revels in being loved.

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