I’ve had a fortunate life but I still find it hard sometimes – I mean, who doesn’t? Unexpected things happen (like worldwide pandemics!), people let you down, things don’t turn out as planned, and hurt and tragedy come to all of us. I spent six of the last eight years in chronic pain – the kind that kept me tossing and turning for hours when I should have been sleeping and which made daily life very difficult. I tried every suggested remedy and saw all kinds of medicos before I finally found relief through weight training. During those challenging years, one escape from pain was laughter. And a writer I can always depend on to make me laugh aloud is Georgette Heyer (you can peruse her books here).
Though I’ve written two books about her and read her novels countless times, Heyer’s stories always feel fresh to me. She’s so brilliant with dialogue and her characters are alive. Her plots are often ingenious and her sense of humour is delicious. Just thinking about some of her stories makes me smile. The Unknown Ajax for example. During those pain-filled years I was gifted an Audible subscription. I discovered, among other great Heyer audio books, the wonderful Daniel Philpott reading The Unknown Ajax.
Actually, ‘reading’ doesn’t come near to describing his rendition of this brilliant book. I don’t think I’d ever fully appreciated the genius of Heyer’s plot and characters in The Unknown Ajax until I heard it read aloud by Mr Philpott. He’s a genius with accents and his broad Yorkshire is superb. He makes each character distinct and the ending is magnificent. Though I’ve read the novel a dozen times, I laughed as though hearing it for the very first time. An incredible escape from trouble and pain – as good books always are. These days I re-read Georgette Heyer for pure pleasure but, as so many of her readers know, she’s a shining light in the dark (pandemic) times too.