Teaser Tuesday: Georgette Heyer

Since today is Georgette Heyer’s 109th birthday, it seemed a good time to share some of the ways in which Heyer has influenced the Pink books.

I’ll confess: I was not initially a fan of Heyer. I picked up my first Heyer back in sixth grade, primarily because there was a quote from Judith McNaught on the cover. At the time, I was a fan of Victoria Holt and Johanna Lindsey. I took my rakes rakish and pirates were a plus. Heyer was just so… quiet.

Fast forward seven years to the summer after my freshman year of college. I was meeting my best friend for coffee at our favorite Starbucks, the one on 87th and Lex. I’d thrown Heyer’s The Nonesuch into my bag, primarily because it was small, and I’d just re-read Nancy Mitford’s Pigeon Pie, which was my usual small-enough-to-fit-into-my-bag book. She was running late; I was running early; the book came out of the bag. And that was that. By the time Anthea resolved not to think about Sir Waldo at all and therefore stayed up thinking about him all night, I had been Heyered.

But I did promise I’d talk about Heyer and Pink, didn’t I? Heyer was out of print in the States. It wasn’t out of print in England. During my research year there, I would smuggle Heyer into the British Library along with my notebook and laptop. At lunchtime, I would take my watery bowl of potato soup from the BL cafeteria and escape into a world of rakes and fops and heroines who had little patience for either.

The botched elopement in The Deception of the Emerald Ring was borrowed straight out of Devil’s Cub. Any resemblance between the hero of The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, the world-weary Lord Vaughn, and the hero of Devil’s Cub is more than coincidental. Those two are real rakes, not a mealymouthed imitation. I borrowed the phrase “Cheltenham tragedy”, an expression invented by Heyer and unwittingly adopted by imitators who believed it to be the real deal. And anyone who’s read The Grand Sophy will recognize that one poetic Augustus has a great deal in common– at least on the face of it– with another.

The most bizarre connection, though, has to do with Mrs. Selwick-Alderly. During my time in England, I was invited to tea by a very gracious lady, a friend of a family friend– who also happened to be the wife of Heyer’s publisher. Her drawing room was filled with Heyer first editions. (She left me alone with them while she fetched the tea tray, which I considered an act of great trust on her part.) Her cozy sitting room and her treasure trove of Heyer novels provided the direct inspiration for Mrs. Selwick-Alderly and Eloise’s cache of papers.

Happy birthday, Georgette Heyer! Which is your favorite Heyer? And which was your first?


  1. Céline on August 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I’ve never read G. Heyer. Yet.
    But I did buy recently Devil’s Cub. Your talking about the book as an inspiration for TWO Pink books, I see it as a sign that it is high time for me to pick it up and bury myself into Heyer’s world!

  2. Sheila on August 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Oh, where do I start? I love them all. One really should read These Old Shades before Devil’s Cub, but one does what one must…. An Infamous Army is sort of the third in a trilogy there. It is my least favorite because of the endless lists of Army units, but…still darn good, and I think she didn’t want to offend the still-living children of Waterloo veterans.

  3. Tracie on August 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    The first Heyer I read was Arabella (it was a selection for my book club) and I thought the writing was superb, but I didn’t like the heroine. So, overall, I wasn’t thrilled. Next, I tried The Convenient Marriage and I just adored it! To this day, it remains my favorite Heyer (although I know that it is a controversial choice.) Friday’s Child (a very close second), Sylvester, Regency Buck, and Faro’s Daughter would round out my top five.

  4. Kayse on August 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I first discovered Georgette Heyer about three years ago when I found Frederica on the “Beach Reading” table display at a Barnes & Noble. I was attracted to cover because it looked nice and Regency-y, and I’ve long been of the opinion that I was born about two centuries too late. Of course, I adored Frederica, and I would say that one is my favorite, with Sylvester as a close second. Then again, I don’t think I’ve read a Heyer novel that I didn’t like.

  5. Amy on August 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I have been long meaning to read Heyer, but I can’t decide which should be my first. Any recommendations?

  6. Renee on August 16, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I stumbled into Heyer, oddly enough, through Clare Darcy. I loved Darcy’s books and was delighted to find that Heyer’s were even better! My first Heyer was Bath Tangle. As for favorite? That is almost an impossible question, especially since I’ve noticed that my reaction to her books has changed as I’ve grown up. It might have to be Cotillion, although I just re-red Sylvester and loved it. And I also love April Lady and The Convenient Marriage and These Old Shades and Devil’s Cub…I suppose they’re all my favorite.

  7. Connie on August 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I also adore Heyer but must confess that her mysteries are my guilty pleasure…that, and we share the same birthdate :). Happy birthday to us!

  8. Ashley on August 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I first discovered Heyer from reading your posts about her and your Yale course. I was hesitant because I am not a huge “romance” person – I don’t typically hit those stacks at B&N but I gave it a try and fell in love. My Christmas list (yes, I have already started it) has a huge list of Heyer’s so I can complete my collection of the new reprints.

    My first was Arabella, which I thought was a good introduction. My favorite was Venetia until I read The Grand Sophy. And while not a typical Regency romance of Heyer’s, I am enjoying Cousin Kate (her gothic novel) during Boston’s icky weather this week.

    Thanks Lauren – I owe my obsession all to you!

  9. jeffrey on August 16, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I discovered Georgette Heyer on a neighboring website reading posts raving about her. My first read was A Lady Of Quality and I was hopelessly hooked. Well, in less than a year, I have finished 17 of her delightful books and fully intend to read ALL of them. I’m now reading Friday’s Child and it is already my favorite, even though I’m not even finished. If anyone tells me that reading regency romances is for women only, this Vietnam Vet and retired tough guy will Knock’em on their A**! Ahem.

  10. Jenna on August 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    The Corinthian

  11. Susan on August 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    She has been on TRB list for quite some time, and I also don’t know which one to start with.
    I noticed that amazon has all her books available for kindle for $1.99 this week, in honor of her birthday.

  12. Sheila on August 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    PS–I forgot to mention that I named my son for the Duke of Avon… I thought it was a really unique name when I was 17. Ten years later, I am signing him in at the pediatrician, and lo! 4 other Justins on the list. Could they all have been sons of Heyer fans? Probably not, as there was s soap opera character named Justin popular that year, and also, people were looking for an alternative to the once faddish but fading Dustin.

  13. kat on August 16, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    She made up the phrase, Cheltenham tragedy?!? I am flabbergasted. Cannot believe I did not know that.

  14. jeffrey on August 16, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Hi Susan: Don’t know which one to start with? That’s easy. Just close your eyes and point! You can’t go wrong….

  15. Hannah on August 16, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    I wish Heyer had been on my radar when I was a teen! I read all the Regency romances on the shelves in my small town library, and wanted more. Possibly they were out of print at that time (late 80s/early 90s).
    I admit that I’ve never finished a book by Heyer. No, that’s not quite right, I listened to several Heyer audiobooks (abridged versions) narrated by Richard Armitage. My favorite of these was Sylvester. I started The Grand Sophy but just couldn’t connect with it. However since I’ve gone mad with the Sourcebooks sale, I’m sure to be reading more Heyer soon!

  16. SusanN on August 16, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I’m really dating myself here, but my first Heyer was The Conqueror back in the 70s. (I was a baby!) I really liked medieval books (straight history, historical fiction, romance) of all kinds back then.

    I didn’t get into regencies until many years later and, as you mentioned, Heyer books became increasingly hard to find for awhile. I ordered many of my books directly from England, and caught the occasional reprint here. Now I have almost all of them in both print and Kindle versions. Yay.

    I’ll let you know my fave when I’ve finished reading all of them–several times! The current Heyer is usually my fave.

  17. Pauline Costantino on August 16, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    A member of my book club mentioned Heyer just about the time you had posted an article on her some time back. Before going on vacation last week, I downloaded a few books to read and one was Devil’s Cub. I recognized the botched elopement right away and had to laugh, but didn’t see the resemblance to L.Vaughn until you mentioned it. So glad that I read it around her birthdate…what a gift!

  18. Am7 on August 16, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Black Sheep, The Toll Gate, Venetia, Cotillion, Sprig Muslin, These Old Shades, Devil’s Cub, Lady Of Quality, AND No Wind of Blame.
    My first was Lady of Quality.

  19. Ellen on August 16, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    The first? Oh Lord (oh Lud? ) can’t remember that far back! Favorites – The Tollgate, The Talisman Ring, The Unknown Ajax, The Grand Sophie , almost all the mysteries. It would probably be easier to list the very few I don’t like!

  20. Rachel on August 17, 2011 at 1:59 am

    Lauren- You are the one who got me hooked! I was looking for a something to hold me over between Crimson Rose and Jasmine, and saw that you mentioned smuggling her into the British library, which intrigued me.

    I think my first was either Faro’s Daughter or False Colours. Either why I was hooked! I spent the first year of grad school (Master’s in History, Archives and Records Management–you can see the appeal of your books to me! History! Archives! Romance! British men! All in one!) reading every Heyer I could get my hands on, and when I was really lonely or stressed out, I’d sneak to the Barnes and Noble on the corner of my street and buy another to cheer me up! My very favorite is Frederica, with ten others in a tie for second. So thanks!

  21. Jessica C on August 17, 2011 at 2:23 am

    I discovered Heyer a few years ago after many people at a particular Jane Austen fansite (which is sadly no longer in existence) recommended her. One kind person even sent me some e-book versions of her novels, since at that time my local bookstore didn’t have many in stock.

    My first was Charity Girl (and my second was the Georgian Black Moth). My favourite is a 3-way tie between Sylvester, Arabella and and A Lady of Quality. The Masqueraders is my favourite Georgian Heyer novel.

  22. Joanne M. on August 17, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Hmmmm, I think my first Heyer was The Talisman Ring……my favorites are Beauvallet (for swashbuckling adventure), The Devil’s Cub (for best rakish rogue), and Arabella (for sweet and charming).

  23. Melody on August 17, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I have not read any Heyer. But, now I know where I will be during lunch–at the bookstore.

  24. Cho on August 17, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I honestly cannot remember who suggested the Heyer books to me, nor which I happened to read first. I do recall that at the library booksale there was once an entire shelf of yellowed mass market Heyers (each only 50 cents!!) which now form the basis of my collection. My absolute favourites are The Masqueraders, These Old Shades, Devil’s Cub, Regency Buck, and the Grand Sophy. In all honesty, however, I adore pretty much all of them.

  25. Alison on August 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    My great grandmother apparently was a great Heyer fan because my mother had boxes of old Georgette Heyer books. I read Frederica in about the 7th grade and fell in love with her.

  26. carole on August 17, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    My 1st Georgette Heyer was “Powder & Patch” when I was in 5th grade…I thought it was wonderful! My favorite of course is “Arabella” and I just learned that she wrote some very good mysteries but I haven’t read one yet.

  27. Veronika on August 17, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Cotillion for both! I have an abiding passion for silly, warmhearted heroes.

    Except that I did go through a Heyer period when I was about 13 or so… I had completely forgotten until I was going through my boxes of books, prior to moving my things out of my parents’ home when I got married, and realized that I had a whole collection of library discard Heyer’s (April Lady and Friday’s Child included) I had bought and then forgotten about. So, lucky me, I got to discover Heyer twice in my lifetime!

  28. Susan on August 19, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    The Nonesuch, hands down. I adore the governess-gets-the-hero story line. And who wouldn’t want to marry Sir Waldo?? What can I say, I was raised on The Sound of Music. Probably the same reason why I am currently in love with The Orchard Affair. : )

  29. Suzan on August 24, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    I can’t recall either how I got Heyerized. I really didn’t know you based several of your people etc. on Heyer characters or your experiences relating to. How wonderful! I love the witty dialogue in Heyer’s novels. I enjoy the romantic tension and the fact that usually we really don’t know how it’s going to turn out until the end. It seems obvious but it may or may not happen. I got my first as a library book – Sprig Muslin. I’ve read most mentioned above but have a few ordered. I thought I’d branch out and read her mysteries as well “Behold Poison” and “Why Shoot the butler” are waiting for me as we speak. With so many to her credit you could start with the A-Z method, or the order of original publication, or number of pages, or broken down by category – romance or mystery. I’m personally just going by what I can get by swapping.

  30. Karlene on August 29, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Regency Buck was my first, but The Grand Sophy is my favorite, followed by The Reluctant Widow, Friday’s Child, The Unknown Ajax, Cotillion, The Corinthian and all the rest! I just wish she had written more!

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