Rediscovering Georgette Heyer

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I started reading Georgette Heyer books when I was eleven. I had no concept of what was age appropriate and neither did my parents. They held that the more books you read, the better. And since English was not my mother tongue, they encouraged me to read as many English books as I could.

The first Georgette Heyer book I read was The Corinthian. I don’t remember if I enjoyed the romance, but I do remember that I thoroughly enjoyed the humour. I remembered laughing out loud as I read it and reading aloud the portions that I found especially funny. The Corinthian was followed by Bath Tangle, The Civil Contract, The Conqueror and Beauvallet. While I found Beauvallet to be excruciatingly funny at times, I wasn’t too impressed with Bath Tangle or The Civil Contract. And as for The Conqueror, I found myself both fascinated and repelled by William the Conqueror, about whom the book is written.

Then I forgot all about Georgette Heyer.

The next time I read her was after completing my post graduation, in the interim between having finished your studies and searching for a job. I took a membership in Trivandrum Public Library and found that they have a large collection of Georgette Heyer works. My mother and I both read and immensely enjoyed False Colours, The Convenient Marriage, The Masqueraders and These Old Shades before I joined a course and was not able to visit the library frequently.

 

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So, Georgette Heyer was again consigned to the back of my mind and of my life.

Then, around ten years back, I started buying books again. I bought almost every title of Georgette Heyer I could find in amazon. As I started reading, what struck me the most was how detached was her narrator’s voice most of the time. And I found it such a refreshing change from writers who seem lost in admiration for the perfection of their creations. Georgette Heyer was either detached or gently mocking of her characters, making us feel that her creations were just as flawed as the rest of humanity. Her heroes and heroines are not epitomes of physical perfection nor intellectually superior to everyone around them. They are people, real, believable and relatable.

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I also enjoyed her settings immensely. I have always had a weakness for historical novels, and her works made that period come alive for me. The rich details and descriptions made me feel as if I was seeing what was transpiring. Unlike many authors, there was no propaganda in her works. She was not out to prove the superiority of the British aristocracy; she was simply telling stories.

And what stories they were! From The Foundling to The Grand Sophy, From The Quiet Gentleman to April Lady, From Talisman Ring to Friday’s Child, her plots are diverse, her characters human, her settings breathtaking, her dialogues witty and no two stories were ever the same. My mother was equally an ardent admirer of her books that I gifted the entire collection to my her and bought a whole new set for myself.

And even now, I find myself re-reading her books; and I still laugh out loud.

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