Jennifer Kloester loves books. An Australian author of both fiction and non-fiction, Jennifer has written extensively about bestselling British novelist, Georgette Heyer.
Why I (Still) Read Georgette Heyer
I first read Georgette Heyer because her books were delicious, entertaining page-turners filled with living, breathing characters whose lives and stories leapt off the page and whose conversations made me laugh out loud.
I return to Heyer’s novels because she compels me. Her Regency world seems alive to me and I love her language. Her dialogue is brilliant because she had a rapier wit and a shrewd and incisive eye for human foibles and frailties. Unsurprisingly, Jane Austen was her favourite author and Heyer sometimes described her own comedy as being ‘a mix of Sheridan and Austen’; it is to them she owes her mastery of ironic humour.
My favourite Heyer novels are the Regencies and Georgians. I recently re-read The Foundling and tried to read it slowly, to savour each word and absorb the nuances of character, conversation and wit, but Georgette Heyer’s books draw you into the story, embroil you in her characters’ adventures, conflicts, triumphs and tragedies; they bring you to laughter or hit you between the eyes – often with no more than a single sentence.
A mark of her genius is her ability to create fully-formed three-dimensional secondary and minor characters and she can convey a great deal of information with brilliant economy: a personality in a sentence, a relationship in two and a whole world in a paragraph. There are so many scenes or lines of dialogue in which every word carries its weight in gold. It’s another of the things I love about Heyer and, I suspect, one of the reasons she endures.
She wrote great stories. Page-turners that draw you into a world that feels real and that stays with you long after you’ve closed the book. Each of her novels has something that sets it apart from the rest and they are all of a consistently high standard. We have only to think of The Talisman Ring, Arabella, Friday’s Child, The Grand Sophy, Cotillion, Sylvester, Black Sheep, or Frederica among many others to be convinced of Miss Heyer’s remarkable story-telling ability. One of my favourites is A Civil Contract. It is a book that repays regular re-readings.
A personality in a sentence, a relationship in two and a whole world in a paragraph. There are so many scenes or lines of dialogue in which every word carries its weight in gold. It’s another of the things I love about Georgette Heyer and, I suspect, one of the reasons she endures.
- JENNIFER KLOESTER
In The Book Cave
Join Jennifer Kloester and guests In The Book Cave. A brand new podcast coming soon to Geelong’s 94.7 The Pulse and jenniferkloester.com