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What are the best Georgette Heyer novels (and the worst)?

What is the best Georgette Heyer novel? Read on, read on.

In our latest Bookshelf show (episode 78), we got happily lost in a tangent about the time we both spend secretly reading Georgette Heyer novels. Having outed ourselves we thought it a good idea to put together a list of our favourites.

It has to be said, they are not for everyone. Laura’s cousin, who she was sure would love them, said ‘Laura, there’s far too many cousins marrying cousins for me!’ Fair enough. There are also some problematic scenes for contemporary readers: consider yourself warned and skip to the bottom if you want to know which novels to avoid.

Georgette Heyer wrote her first book, The Black Moth, when she was 19, to amuse her brother who was recovering from an illness. The book was published and became a success, and Heyer began to write follow-ups. She is generally credited with having invented the genre of the Regency Romance, and readers lapped up her meticulously plotted novels, still sought out today as the perfect form of escapism by readers in-the-know. Historical romances might not be your thing, but a few hours spent in the company of Heyer’s sparkling heroines and dashing Regency bucks may change your mind.

If you’re thinking of dipping in, here’s our rundown of the best:

Our favourite Georgette Heyer novels

Cover of The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

The Grand Sophy – Kate’s all-time favourite

There are Georgette Heyer novels and Georgette Heyer novels – some are better than others and to my mind The Grand Sophy is the very best. It’s the one I would give to a friend who hadn’t read her before. Sophy is an unforgettable character and something of a feminst triumph although who knows how much of that Heyer had in mind. Brought up by her military father following the Duke of Wellington on the campaign trail Sophy returns to London to live with her cousins who are expecting an ingénue. Instead they discover Sophy not only knows everyone, and how to behave with every nuance of social distinction, she also has a very effective way of managing the people around her, including her overbearing cousin Charles. Before long she is putting the world to rights, making sure the right people fall in love with one-another and convincing the reluctant Charles that his carefully ordered existence is perhaps not what he really wanted all along. With a pleasingly mutli-layered plot that ticks along like clockwork, this novel would be a delight from start to finish, except for the troublingly anti-semitic passages where Sophy encounters a Jewish money-lender. Although Heyer was undoubtedly reflecting the tropes of the era, it’s a shame as it marrs what otherwise would be a perfect read.

Cover of The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer
The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer

The Nonesuch – Laura’s all-time favourite

Surprisingly, my favourite Georgette Heyer isn’t set in the usual London milieu of balls, Vauxhall gardens and promenades in St James’s Park. Instead, we head north to Yorkshire where Sir Waldo Hawkridge has arrived to claim the inheritance of the crumbling Broom Hill. Not that he needs it. Sir Waldo is already fabulously wealthy, and the toast of society, known as the Nonesuch for his athletic prowess and ability with horses. Naturally, every mother in the county immediately sets her sights on him as a potential son-in-law. Meanwhile, the calm and cool-eyed Ancilla Trent, governess to the spoilt but beautiful Tiffany Wield, looks on with amusement. Relatively straightforward in plot compared to her other novels, The Nonesuch has a depth and heart to the characters, and the romance feels unusually authentic. I must confess I’ve read The Nonesuch at least three times now. As I flick through its pages, I can feel the fourth time coming on rather soon…

Other Georgette Heyer novels we love

Cover of Venetia by Georgette Heyer
Venetia by Georgette Heyer

Venetia

Venetia Lanyon has lived her whole life in seclusion on her father’s estate, continuing to manage it after her father’s death when her elder brother remains abroad, while also looking after her younger brother, a teenage scholar with some health problems. She has heard tales of her infamous neighbour, Lord Damerel, who has long been absent from the area. When Venetia finally meets him while out picking blackberries one day his behaviour proves the gossips were right. Gradually, though, as she comes to know him, she begins to realise that his devil-may-care attitude masks a deeper feeling that she will come to love. Unfortunately this coincides with the dawning realisation on his part that a relationship between them will doom her to social ruin, and he sends her away. Brokenhearted Venetia heads to London, where she makes a discovery she decides could resolve her situation once and for all. Beautiful, intelligent and capable, Venetia is as captivating a heroine as Georgette Heyer could create, and will keep the reader happily absorbed until the end and you discover how it all turns out. (Note: this novel has a couple of episodes where men make physical advances on Venetia that make it a somewhat problematic favourite, however to snap the book shut at that point would, I think, be to deny yourself the enjoyment of the otherwise irreproachable pages that follow. What can I say, it’s a judgement call.)

Cover of Arabella by Georgette Heyer
Arabella by Georgette Heyer

Arabella

Arabella Tallant is travelling to London for her first Season, one that her family can ill-afford. A broken coach-wheel sends her to a nearby house to beg for assistance, where she finds wealthy society figure Mr Robert Beaumarais. Years of dodging the attentions of fortune-hunters has made him cynical and he assumes Arabella is one of the same. Arabella, learning of this, is outraged, and resolves to teach him a lesson. She pretends to be fabulously wealthy, and although he isn’t fooled Mr. Beaumarais decides for amusement he will back up her claims. With his approval Arabella is soon the toast of London society with offers for her hand in marriage coming right, left and centre, but she discovers to her dismay that the person who interests her most is the one person who doesn’t covet her fortune. Arabella’s society manners can’t hide her kind and generous heart, and Mr Beaumarais soon finds he has more than her welfare to take care of when he agrees to look after a stray dog, a chimney sweep and finally her wayward brother. That Mr Beaumarais and Arabella are destined to end up together is never in doubt, the delight, however, comes in the elaborate set-pieces that lead our characters to their happy ending.

Cover of False Colours by Georgette Heyer
False Colours by Georgette Heyer

False Colours

Our hero Christopher Fancot is returning from a posting in the diplomatic service to keep an eye on his wayward twin brother, Evelyn. Intuition has told him that something is amiss, and sure enough Evelyn is nowhere to be found. Reluctantly, at his charming and persuasive mother’s behest, Kit becomes embroiled in Evelyn’s affairs to the extent of impersonating him in order to rescue his engagement to Cressida Stavely. As time passes and Evelyn does not return Kit must use all his wit in order to maintain the charade. Kit Fancot is one of my very favourite Georgette Heyer heroes, but the character that keeps me coming back to this book is his irrepressibly extravagant mother, whose wardrobe and decorative schemes are ruinous to the family finances, but an unfailing delight to read about. Overall it’s as enjoyable a farce as you could wish for, and rest assured the right characters find each other in the end.

Cover of Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

Cotillion

By the time you’ve read a few Georgette Heyer novels you’ll be familiar with her standard characters. The surprise here is that Freddy, a Bertie-Wooster-type whose main attributes are his good taste and impeccable manners, turns out to be the romantic hero. (The usual attractive grey-eyed nobleman turns out to be Freddy’s father, Lord Legerwood, but he has only a minor part to play.) Kitty Charing believes herself to be in love with her rakish cousin Jack, and when her godfather makes it a condition of his will that she marry one of his great-nephews, it is Jack who she expects will propose to her. He, however, does not like to have his hand forced, and so she concocts a plan with another of her potential suitors, Freddy Standen, a fake betrothal giving her a London season in which to consider her options. Kitty’s attempts to manage her situation get her into a number of social scrapes and increasingly it is the dependable Freddy who will rescue her. Little by little she starts to realise that perhaps flighty Jack is not what she wants in a husband after all.

Cover of Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer
Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer

Death in the Stocks

Probably because I’m not much of a crime-reader, I didn’t like any of Heyer’s 1930s crime fiction (though I have read them all, just in case). But there is one exception. Death in the Stocks is somehow different from the rest and for me it’s her most successful. Brother and sister Kenneth and Antonia Vereker become mixed up in a murder investigation when their wealthy cousin is found dead in some stocks at the village where he had a country cottage. Kenneth, an artist, and heir to the cousin’s fortune refuses to take the matter seriously and leads the police in an elaborate guessing game. It is left to Antonia and lawyer-cousin Giles to try to rein him in. Meanwhile Kenneth’s fiancée, the astonishingly beautiful Violet is growing frustrated with him, while Antonia’s fiancée Rudolf Mesurier begins to suspect that her heart is turning towards someone else. Just as it seems the murder will remain unsolved there is a second killing, which ups the stakes for everyone. With memorable characters as good as any in her Regency novels, this is the one Georgette Heyer crime novel I have reread many a time and recommend. (–Kate)

And the ones to avoid

Our love for this author does not blind us to her faults. Almost every Georgette Heyer is readable and engaging, even those that veer into the formulaic. But there are a few elements in her novels that are likely to trouble the contemporary reader.

In Kate’s favourite, The Grand Sophy, there is a disturbingly racist sequence when our heroine pays a visit to a Jewish moneylender. Lord Damerel, meanwhile, thinks nothing of amorously pouncing on Venetia until he learns she is a noblewoman (and therefore not to be treated as he would, say, a milkmaid).

The figures of the ton who people Heyer’s Regency Romances spare few thoughts for the less privileged classes of society – although to be fair Arabella does prod Mr Beaumarais into rescuing a young chimney sweep from the workhouse, while Sir Waldo Hawkridge in The Nonesuch uses his fortune to set up charity houses for orphans. He keeps it a secret, though, it wouldn’t do for it to be known. Heyer, ever the scrupulous researcher, was careful to reflect the manners and mores of the people who were her inspiration without much intervention on her part.

On a further cautionary note, we’d recommend avoiding The Black Moth, a real stinker with an ongoing attempted rape sequence that turns the stomach. Also Cousin Kate (although fans of Gothic novels may enjoy), These Old Shades, Penhallow, Faro’s Daughter and her novels set in earlier periods of history, The Spanish Bride, The Conqueror, Simon the Coldheart and My Lord John, and see Kate’s note about the crime novels earlier in this post. We’ve never laid hands on a copy but by all accounts The Great Roxborough is also one to avoid.

All the others range from mildly diverting to great, and the fun is all in reading your way through them to figure out your own favourites. Also don’t buy them new, hunt for them in secondhand bookshops and rejoice when you find one you haven’t already read.

Don’t miss…

podcast icon

There’s many an episode where we mention Georgette Heyer, but we talk particularly about The Grand Sophy and our other favourites in this Bookshelf episode.

It would be remiss of us not to mention another podcast that brings us great delight, and that is the Heyer Today podcast, in which writer, editor and Heyer enthusiast Sara-Mae Tuson delves into every aspect of Heyer-Land with an engaging mix of guests. We’re happily working our way through season 1.

Notes

If you’ve worked your way through every Heyer and looking for more? The Female Scriblerian has put together an excellent list of suggested follow-ons.

Your thoughts

If you could choose any Heyer heroine, which would you be? And how about the romance? Which Heyer hero is the one for you? Let us know in the comments.

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122 Comments

    • Kate
      July 8, 2022 at 9:50 pm  - Reply

      Sophy all the way!

      • Stefan
        May 4, 2023 at 8:06 pm  - Reply

        I have to strongly disagree about your blacklisting of Faro’s Daughter. It was my first Georgette Heyer novel and it totally knocked the socks off me. After that I was hooked.

        • Kate
          May 4, 2023 at 11:18 pm  - Reply

          All that messing about in the cellar? But you’re right, of course, even the ones we might consider the duds are still brilliant.

  • Sunny
    July 25, 2021 at 6:35 am  - Reply

    I think you missed one of the best. The Foundling had me chuckling throughout. As in Cotillion, once again, Heyer’s romantic hero is not the smart, handsome cousin, but the slightly built, gullible one. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

    • brc-admin
      July 25, 2021 at 10:28 am  - Reply

      I think Gilly is a slightly marmite character so it didn’t make our list, but it’s definitely one I enjoyed and have read more than once. Like you, I enjoyed the way it’s a real variation on the character tropes Heyer fans have come to expect and there’s a LOT of carefully researched historical detail about wayside inns in this one, isn’t there. Thanks for commenting, love hearing your thoughts.

      • Michelle
        July 13, 2022 at 9:37 pm  - Reply

        I love that I’ve found people who love her as much as I do! I’ve enjoyed two of her mysteries (They Found Him Dead, and Death in the Stocks) but her Regency books are my favorite. With The Grand Sophy I felt like I was watching a play unfold itself onstage and then neatly fold itself up again! All the twists and turns, characters on and off the stage, straightened themselves out and ended up where they should. Hilarious! I also loved you reference to Bertie Wooster. I haven’t met many people who know who that is!

        • Kate
          July 14, 2022 at 8:06 am  - Reply

          Death in the Stocks is one of my all-time favourite Heyers. And yes, agree completely about The Grand Sophy, the plotting is a delight, so cleverly and perfectly done. We had a tv series in the UK with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie that dramatised all the Jeeves & Wooster stories, which was a regular family watch in my house when I was growing up. And then I went off to read the books, although my favourite Wodehouse are the Blandings stories – Lord Emsworth and his pig never fail to make me laugh.

        • Neelika Choudhury
          September 28, 2022 at 5:09 am  - Reply

          I love Fridays Child too. The hero and the heroine both come of age in this story making it different from the suave heroes of some of the other novels.

          • Kate
            October 4, 2022 at 9:04 am 

            Yes, although often her heroes and heroines fall into a type, it’s always lots of fun when she mixes it up a bit. Friday’s Child is great.

    • Lorelle
      December 21, 2021 at 10:06 pm  - Reply

      The Foundling is also one of my all time favorites

  • LG
    August 16, 2021 at 5:54 am  - Reply

    I’m not saying I disagree, but what makes you put These Old shades on the ‘not’ list?

    • brc-admin
      August 16, 2021 at 6:23 pm  - Reply

      Good question. Is that the one with Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon? Laura veto’ed that one, rather than me (Kate), but I suspect it was because Avon is even less redeemable than the others in terms of dated patriarchal tropes although Léonie is a brilliant heroine who more than holds her own. Anyway, I’m speculating, but that may well have been it.

      • Alison B
        October 19, 2021 at 7:18 am  - Reply

        🙂 Funny, I am rereading it at the moment and remember it fondly, but really time has move to far. If he says “I own you/you belong to me” one more time I will have to give it away.

      • Corey
        August 17, 2023 at 2:38 pm  - Reply

        I absolutely hate this fad of judging past figures or characters by taking them out of historical context and judging them by modern morales!
        Cousins marrying cousins was how rich families stayed rich, and women of of the time were held close as a way of protecting that wealth. The regency period of heyers is a time of beautiful hypocrisy mixed with brutal honesty! (Last time we were truly honest about things that are still absolutely true today Appearance is more important then substance, and money covers for all sins)

        If I was recommending books the top five would be
        1. Devil’s Cub (sequel too these old shades)
        2. These old shades
        3. The masqueraders
        4. A civil contract
        5. The Spanish bride

        • Kate
          August 17, 2023 at 9:14 pm  - Reply

          That’s what we love about Heyer, everyone has their favourites. Thanks for sharing yours.

        • Dave
          September 12, 2023 at 2:44 pm  - Reply

          Corey, I’m with you in deploring readers who get an attack of the vapors about anything at odds with the mores of their 21st century bubble. If that’s a hangup, why read historical novels or anything older than this month’s magazines? Also liked your favorites list. Heyer has plenty of male fans, with their own preferences and prejudices. “The Talisman Ring” and “The Toll Booth” offer humor and action rather than bodice-heaving feminism, as does “The Unknown Ajax.” Heyer is unusually good at voicing both female and male protagonists, since they usually had the same virtues.

          One of the very last books I came to was “A Civil Contract.” Many consider it downbeat, but I found it a realistic and thought-provoking alternative to Heyer’s more popular froth. Good people who successfully come to terms with a life that isn’t quite the fairy tale they hoped for, and the portrait of Jonathan Chawleigh is one of Heyer’s very best characterizations.

          The early works like “Shades,” “Black Moth” and “Beauvallet” should be seen almost as fan fiction by a gifted youngster, and readers who enjoy Victorian writers such as Ouida or Sabatini will enjoy them. “Devil’s Cub” is, I think, the point where Heyer’s own unique style starts to assert itself.

          • Rachel Henderson
            October 26, 2023 at 7:08 pm 

            Some of the scenes in Sprig Muslin are set just a few miles from where I live (in Northamptonshire)

            I would go along with you as regards people getting uptight about ‘non-PC’ subjects, with one exception, and that is where GH is too ‘anti-Jewish’ for my taste. I know that it was quite different when GH was writing, so I try to ignore it though! Definitely prefer her later books.

          • Kate
            October 26, 2023 at 8:57 pm 

            Lucy Worsley in her biography of Agatha Christie takes a moment to consider anti-semitic elements of her work, and contextualises them with the work of other contemporaries like Dorothy L. Sayers, and – I thought to myself when I read it – Georgette Heyer. Worseley doesn’t excuse Christie, she merely makes the observation and moves on. I also read a really thought-provoking book (that I highly recommend, as I do the Christie biog, which is great) called How to Read Now by Elaine Castillo – she talks about the ‘expected reader’ the author has in mind when they write. Castillo’s experience as a first-generation American with parents who came from the Philippines was that she was almost never the expected reader of the books she encountered, and I think we can see now when we look back at the works of Heyer and her contemporaries that they had a certain view of the world that they expected their readers to share. We think differently now, and it’s right that we do – but occasionally we come up against these jolting reminders that sometimes our favourite authors had different views. Final book recommendation that feels helpful is Monsters by Claire Dederer, which looks at works of art and culture that we love, but which have been made by men with problematic real-life biographies. It’s fascinating.

  • Robi
    August 21, 2021 at 8:52 pm  - Reply

    Love this list! All your top picks are my favorites (except the mystery). I’ll have to go hunt down False Colours again. I read all her books in high school and then, needing a break from COVID news, rediscovered them last year. To your list, I MUST add Beauvallet — a period adventure with a swashbuckling hero you can visualize as Errol Flynn in The Sea Hawk and a spirited heroine who helps rescue herself (as much as any woman could in those days.) My other favorite is A Civil Contract, which shows that a rewarding true love doesn’t always start with head-over-heels infatuation. Equal to The Grand Sophy is Frederica which bears some similarities and great charm. My only real disagreement with your ratings is over Black Moth. Yes, there is an offensive story line, but some of the characters (particularly Jack) and the rest of the story, outweighs it in my mind. Note: There are also bad and threatening people in Beauvallet, as well as bloodshed, so that might disqualify it from your list.

    • brc-admin
      August 25, 2021 at 3:45 pm  - Reply

      I don’t think I’ve ever read Beauvallet. How exciting – love the thought that there’s an unread good one out there waiting for me. I don’t mind A Civil Contract, it’s definitely one of her good ones in terms of characters and brilliant detail. I think I found upright Adam just a little overbearing, though, which puts me off it. I have to say it’s really Laura’s ‘miss’ list, rather than mine. I’m pretty sure I have read and re-read Black Moth happily enough. Some of these things you just have to take with a big pinch of salt. Thanks for your lovely comment and the recommendations 🙂 – Kate

  • Cordy Galligan
    August 28, 2021 at 2:06 pm  - Reply

    Where to start! I devour my Heyer’s time and time again! The Talisman Ring is another I recommend to those who have yet to read their first. Sarah Thane and Tristam Shield make a wonderful counterpoint romance to Eustacia and Ludovic. Fun from start to finish! Black Sheep, Sylvester and Sprig Muslin are also very good and not frequently mentioned. And to the last poster, Beauvallet is so different from the typical Heyer in that it’s Elizabethan, but the hero swashbuckling, his sidekick amusing and the plot thoroughly exciting. Enjoy! I envy you the fun ahead. I find Heyer much like Pokeman…ya gotta get em all!

    • brc-admin
      August 28, 2021 at 9:46 pm  - Reply

      Funnily enough I’ve just been reading The Talisman Ring again and agree, it is a riot. Total hokum but hugely enjoyable. Yes, agree, also love Sylvester and Sprig Muslin. Can’t remember Black Sheep. I’m looking forward to Beauvallet. – Kate

  • Caitlin
    September 13, 2021 at 1:30 am  - Reply

    Great list! The Grand Sophy is soooo excellent. The Reluctant Widow was my first Heyer, so it has a special place in my heart. The Civil Contract may be my favorite though! Very non-formulaic, and makes you think about what love really is. There are a couple parts that wring my heart. There’s even a brief reference to Austen!

    • brc-admin
      September 13, 2021 at 7:50 am  - Reply

      I think The Reluctant Widow might have been my first Heyer too! And for a long time it was the only one I knew about so I read it quite a few times. Imagine my joy when I discovered how many other books she had written! – Kate

  • Eliza Archer
    September 28, 2021 at 10:46 am  - Reply

    I love “The Unknown Ajax”— skip the Yorkshire dialect when Heyer does it on to thick, if you must. The characters are wonderful and the book is laugh out loud funny often.

  • Bernie
    October 7, 2021 at 11:16 pm  - Reply

    A reluctant widow was my first of her books too , many many moons ago , also The Talisman ring . And one no-one seems to have mentioned , Regency Buck.

    • Mia
      October 19, 2022 at 7:15 pm  - Reply

      Thanks for this. Enjoyed reading this list.

      For me, I would certainly put Frederick right at the top alongside the Grand Sophy.

      I’ve probably missed this is the comments below the line: but I would love to know your reasons for putting These Old Shaded on the Not list. These Old Shades and Devil’s Cub are at the top of my Heyer favouritesI must admit.

      For me, The Reluctant Widow is at the bottom in terms of the romance. The adventure was good, but you don’t see the relationship developing between the two leads characters.

      • Kate
        October 24, 2022 at 10:10 am  - Reply

        Laura veto’ed These Old Shades, rather than me (Kate), but I suspect it was because she feels Avon is even less redeemable than the others in terms of dated patriarchal tropes. As for me, I remember Léonie as a brilliant heroine who more than holds her own. But romances are such personal things, aren’t they, and what’s wonderful about Heyer is that her stories and heroes / heroines are so rich and varied there’s going to be a favourite for everyone. On which subject I agree, Frederica is one of the gems.

  • Sue Johnson
    October 21, 2021 at 9:14 am  - Reply

    The Unknown Ajax is my favourite. Great characters, very funny and exciting climax.

  • Michelle Whitworth
    November 3, 2021 at 8:37 pm  - Reply

    My favourites are The Talisman Ring, The Reluctant Widow, The Grand Sophy, and The Unknown Ajax, all of which have spirited heroines and a great deal of comedy. As I have got older, it has become increasingly difficult to bear the double standards ( nobody has mentioned the attitudes in The Devil’s Cub, for instance ) But no one else approaches the lightness of touch of a Heyer

    • Susanna
      February 8, 2023 at 4:04 pm  - Reply

      Totally agree with your list in terms of the lol novels. Close runners up are False Colours (which is also interesting), The Corinthian and Friday’s Child (strictly for the hero’s friends who are HILARIOUS). But I also love her regency murder mysteries: The Toll Gate, The Quiet Gentleman (not technically but only cos the murderer was incompetent) and Cousin Kate; (although technically The Reluctant Widow and The Talisman Ring are also murder mysteries).
      I think the double standards are just a reflection of that time. Let’s be grateful we weren’t born back then!

      • Kate
        February 10, 2023 at 11:44 pm  - Reply

        The Quiet Gentleman is one of my all-time favourites 🙂

  • Linda Hepburn
    November 6, 2021 at 7:18 am  - Reply

    Devil’s Cub .
    The not intially very heroic hero is the son of Leonie and The Duke of Avon. She is as irrepressible as ever ; he has a key role to play.
    The heroine is one of the quieter ones with strengths of her own.

  • Linda
    November 8, 2021 at 4:58 pm  - Reply

    I am a fan of Devil’s Cub.
    Dominic is the son of the Duke of Avon and Leonie so we meet those two again.Leonie is irrepressible as ever bit for those who haven’t read it I won’t say anything about the Duke, except that he is wonderful. Dominic is ver unheroic at the start until he falls in love.

  • Linda
    November 8, 2021 at 4:58 pm  - Reply

    I am a fan of Devil’s Cub.
    Dominic is the son of the Duke of Avon and Leonie so we meet those two again.Leonie is irrepressible as ever bit for those who haven’t read it I won’t say anything about the Duke, except that he is wonderful. Dominic is ver unheroic at the start until he falls in love.

  • Elise Pryor
    December 6, 2021 at 10:41 pm  - Reply

    Good to see there are still some of Georgette Heyer’s novels out there which I haven’t read! I will hunt them down. Of those already mentioned ‘These Old Shades’, ‘Venetia’, ‘False Colours’, and ‘A Civil Contract’ I have read at least three or four times each!
    I must also add ‘Friday’s Child’ (great characters and plot), ‘Lady of Quality’, ‘Powder and Patch’ and ‘An Infamous Army’ (which taught me more about the Battle of Waterloo than any history book could!)

  • Lorelle
    December 21, 2021 at 10:55 pm  - Reply

    My favorite Heyer books have good hearted characters getting into ridiculous scrapes, with good intentions, laugh out loud humor, and clever and witty characters who know what to say and never lose their cool. Heyer is like Austin but with more of a sense of humor. Loved The Foundling and The Nonesuch, Frederica, Cotillion, The Talisman Ring, The Quiet Gentleman, and The Masqueraders.
    I don’t like it as much when the ones who fall in love are fighting the whole time like Regency Buck. I don’t like it as much when the virtuous girl marries a rake (like Venetia and Devil’s Cub), there can be some gender portrayal issues, and some consent issues, and occasionally a scene that goes over the top for me, like the suicide in These Old Shades. A couple of her books go into way too much historical detail for me and make it a chore to finish, like An Infamous Army.. I found A Civil Contract a bit of a chore as well because his descriptions of disdain for her appearance and his continued feelings for someone else (even after marriage) were too much for me and I couldn’t enjoy the book.
    Overall, Heyer is one of my favorite authors, and I’ve probably read more of her books than any other author.
    I’ve read at least 21, maybe more. Almost always, they are delightful and charming books, even if there is something in there that makes it not my favorite of hers, I still usually enjoy reading it.

    • brc-admin
      December 21, 2021 at 11:07 pm  - Reply

      Lovely to hear about your favourites, and thoughtful comments – agree completely, even when we don’t love them, we still almost always enjoy them.

  • Angela
    December 27, 2021 at 10:15 pm  - Reply

    Fun list! My top three Heyer novels are Venetia, The Grand Sophy, and A Civil Contract. I think Venetia is the most romantic with my favorite heroine and hero, Venetia and Damerel, The Grand Sophy is the funniest, and A Civil Contract is so touching and well written, and also very funny. I have read them all several times over the years. My other favorites are Frederica, Lady Of Quality, and The Unknown Ajax. The Talisman Ring and Arabella were also a fun read. I also do not enjoy most of her books set in a earlier period, but many people do like them. Haven’t read The Nonesuch, so I will add that to my list, thanks!

    • brc-admin
      December 28, 2021 at 11:03 pm  - Reply

      Oh agree about Venetia and Damerel. One of my very favourites. Laura has just read Frederica and it’s her new favourite. Hope you enjoy The Nonesuch.

  • Newhill
    December 31, 2021 at 1:32 am  - Reply

    I haven’t seen Faro’s daughter.mentioned. i love the characters . laughed so much at her dressing up to go out. I read it often. .. so many are quite brilliant.

    • brc-admin
      December 31, 2021 at 8:56 am  - Reply

      I have read it, but so long ago I find I’ve forgotten it. How lovely – I will definitely seek it out for a re-read.

  • Mavis Ingram
    February 21, 2022 at 9:46 am  - Reply

    Love everyone of them! Even “The Conquerer!” Easy to read, generally historically accurate, appealing heroes and heroines, frequently funny etc etc. I read my first one in 1960 and she quickly became my favourite author! I even bought some statues of Arabella, Sophie and Leonie which adorn my mantelpiece! Although I did start reading Jean Plaidy and Elizabeth Chadwick who are also favourites And reread and reread Them all.However I still return to Heyer who never fails me, even at the age of! 80!

    • brc-admin
      February 21, 2022 at 10:25 pm  - Reply

      So lovely to hear how much you love them.

      • Rachel Henderson
        October 26, 2023 at 6:47 pm  - Reply

        I would like to like ‘The Conqueror’, because I know GH LOVED mediaeval stories, but let’s face it, she could not write them! I love ‘The Spanish Bride because it’s about REAL people! Did you know that Harry and Juana were REAL people? He later lived in Wisbech (Cambs., England) where several schools and other places are named after him, and of course, we all know a town in Africa was named after her (and became famous during the Boer War) I Think! Favourite GH book is “An Infamous Army”, and because of it, the Battle of Waterloo is one of my favourite historical events.
        I was introduced to GH by my mother, and have loved her books ever since. I feel ambivalent about “A civil Contract” because I think that Jenny deserves somebody better with a bit of sense, and Adam is rather ‘wet’ and needs a good shake to get some sense into him!

        • Kate
          October 26, 2023 at 8:43 pm  - Reply

          It’s so curious, isn’t it, that Heyer’s historical books which were so close to her heart, never worked as well as her romances. I have read an Infamous Army, and quite enjoyed it, but have never gone back to it. Isn’t that the one where some of the characters from other books intersect? Agree with you completely about A Civil Contract 🙂

  • Lynn
    March 8, 2022 at 9:17 pm  - Reply

    Regency Buck was my first Heyer book, and also my favorite.

    • Kate
      March 9, 2022 at 12:48 pm  - Reply

      ‘If only Lord Worth is not a subject to gout!’ – a classic 🙂

  • Sarah
    March 11, 2022 at 7:10 pm  - Reply

    No one’s mentioned The Convenient Marriage? The unfortunate named Horatia persuades the Earl of Rule to marry her instead of her beautiful sister Lizzie. Lizzie is in love with a poor Captain, you see, so Horry tells Rule he should marry her instead. After all, he wants to marry into her family, doesn’t he? Horry explains she is only 17 (it’s heavily implied the marriage isn’t consummated until after the last page) but she will get older – and no one would think Rule is as old as he is. Yes, she isn’t very tall, has a stammer, and has eyebrows that give her a frowning look, but she does have the Nose.

    Also, it should be the middle sister, Charlotte, who marries Rule, but she won’t make such a sacrifice, not even for Lizzie.

    Rule is pretty taken aback by this, er, proposal, but he accepts and marries Horry.

    =====

    Also Black Sheep is another favourite. For extra fun, once you’ve read how Abby and Miles meet, go back and look at the scene from Miles’s POV.

    • Kate
      March 24, 2022 at 4:53 pm  - Reply

      Yes, I love Horry. One of my favourite heroines and it’s a slightly unexpected dynamic between the characters compared to her other books. Intrigued about Black Sheep, I’ll have to dig out my copy and have a look.

    • nina
      July 23, 2022 at 12:14 pm  - Reply

      Hi,
      I recently read Black Sheep and it was so much fun but I couldn’t find Miles’s POV like you mentioned.

      • Kate
        July 23, 2022 at 9:46 pm  - Reply

        It was another reader, Sarah, who commented ‘Also Black Sheep is another favourite. For extra fun, once you’ve read how Abby and Miles meet, go back and look at the scene from Miles’s POV’, but beyond being intrigued I’ve not actually got round to looking at it again. Do you think she meant just consider the same chapter from Miles’s point-of-view? Glad you enjoyed Black Sheep anyway 🙂

  • Diana Windram
    March 22, 2022 at 8:08 pm  - Reply

    My first GH was Arabella, aged 13. Loved it and asked for more for my birthday. That was 57 years ago (eek!) Like Mavis, I can say she never fails me. Right now I’m listening to Cotillion, one of the original birthday books, on CD and rereading Charity Girl. All time favourites include Sylvester, the Grand Sophy, (of course) Regency Buck, Fridays Child, (I adore George, Gil and Ferdy) Frederica and almost best of all the infinitely touching A Civil Contract. Don’t you love how Jenny has macaroons made every day ready for Adam’s return and he thinks it just his good luck? And Mr Chawleigh is so wonderfully written, the way she balances his coarser qualities with instinctive love for Chinese porcelain and kindness. Truly she writes with such perception and elegance and of course wit and comic effect.

    • Kate
      March 24, 2022 at 4:57 pm  - Reply

      I’ve never listened to one, but can imagine it must be lovely, I will try it. How interesting that you love A Civil Contract – I must confess it’s one of my least-favourite, but only because I find Adam so dislikable, although I know as a character he’s reflecting social class attitudes of his time. Of course he becomes much more loveable in the end. Agree about Mr Chawleigh.

    • Robi
      September 22, 2022 at 5:09 am  - Reply

      I really like A Civil Contract too, for much the same reasons. It’s so different but describes love in a real and genuine way that her other books (more classic swept-off-their-feet romances) don’t. The macaroons and how Jenny picked apart the curtains to get the color right. Mr. Chawleigh’s love is so pure (yet so annoying at times.) I think the problem with Adam is that it’s hard to accept him clinging to the idea of Julia for so stupidly long … but sadly, that happens to some people in real life too. I also love Cotillion and Spring Muslin for their depictions of a lasting love that grows and emerges rather than strikes suddenly. I have to reread Sylvester…

  • Shaila
    April 13, 2022 at 5:28 am  - Reply

    One of my favorites is Faro’s Daughter! The interaction between Miss Deborah Grantham and Mr. Max Ravenscar is priceless. Deb tries to teach Max a lesson because he made her so mad as he assumed she was trying to catch a husband by making his young cousin fall for her. It makes me laugh out loud. My other faves are The Grand Sophy, Arabella, Lady of Quality, Masqueraders, Venetia and a whole bunch of others. She even has short stories! Just love Georgette Heyer! One of my favorite authors.

    • Kate
      April 28, 2022 at 5:55 pm  - Reply

      I love that one too, although the bit where Miss Grantham ends up locking Mr Ravenscar in the cellar always seemed to me a step too far. Love those characters though.

  • Dyann Love Barr
    April 28, 2022 at 4:29 pm  - Reply

    One thing I always consider when reading a book published before social issues and triggers warnings became necessary was the culture at the time the book was written and set. I loved most of the Heyer Regency novels, but These Old Shades and Devil’s Cub vied with Sylvester and The Grand Sophy as my favorites.

    • Kate
      April 28, 2022 at 5:56 pm  - Reply

      Yes, that is definitely something to keep firmly in mind. Surely with all the Bridgerton enthusiasm they will be filming a GH novel soon. Her plots and characters are so much better!

  • ELEANOR RICHMOND
    April 29, 2022 at 6:55 am  - Reply

    READING ALL OF THE MESSAGES IS ALMOST AS TIME CONSUMING AS READING A NOVEL. L.O.L.
    I PREFER FACT TO FICTION, ALTHOUGH I DID RECENTLY READ AND FINISH A POCKETBOOK GIFTED TO ME FOR MY BIRTHDAY, FROM COUSINS LINDA PATON AND CAROL STARKMAN. IT CAME WITH A PLANT AND LUNCH ON THEIR VISIT HERE.
    THE LIBRARY CALLED AND LEFT ME A MESSAGE JUST THE OTHER DAY, SAYING THAT ALL LATE CHARGES ARE FORGIVEN. I DON’T HAVE AN OVERDUE BOOK. I HAVEN’T BEEN TO THE LIBRARY FOR YEARS, ALTHOUGH I WAS THE ONE IN MY NEIGHBOURHOOD WHO GOT UP A NEIGHBOURHOOD PETITION TO HAVE A LIBRARY FOR MY SONS, INSTEAD OF THE BOOKMOBILE TRUCK THAT CAME AROUND TO THE LOCAL PLAZA.

  • Kristie Miller
    April 30, 2022 at 4:33 pm  - Reply

    I loved The Corinthian, I’m a sucker for cross-dressing women. (Thank you, Shakespeare!)

    • Kate
      April 30, 2022 at 10:31 pm  - Reply

      Haha. I think GH felt the same way.

  • Cordy G
    April 30, 2022 at 8:24 pm  - Reply

    Oooohhh, so excited to weigh back in. A few we’ve not yet discussed are The Black Moth, The Corinthian, Charity Girl, Bath Tangle, and Sprig Muslin. The Corinthian was my last unread Heyer, and also my least favorite. But, to find a Heyer at age 60 that I hadn’t read was still such a delight that I devoured it. Has anyone read her compilation work Pistols for Two? Some nice short stories in there, particularly the first. As to favorites, still and always The Talisman Ring, The Reluctant Widow, and The Grand Sophy…magnificent and any one would make a great movie or series!

    • Kate
      April 30, 2022 at 10:32 pm  - Reply

      Sprig Muslin is one of my favourites!

    • Robi
      September 22, 2022 at 5:17 am  - Reply

      I love Black Moth. One of my very favorites. Jack and Miles are such great friends (and I adore Molly) and the adventuring is so much fun. The final duel (and subsequent dinner) are a bit surreal, but at least marginally humorous and better than a violent ending. Have you read Beauvallet? Also a great and dashing adventure with a bit more plausible story line. I like Spring Muslin and Grand Sophy too. I recently reread Bath Tangle and although it’s entertaining enough, it’s not a favorite. But yes, I recently found Pistols for Two at a used bookshop for a dollar – it had been years since I’d read it!

      • Kate
        October 4, 2022 at 9:07 am  - Reply

        I have never got around to Beauvallet and it’s top of my list, but I have to wait till I find it in a secondhand bookshop, as that’s how I like to acquire my GHs. It has been recommended before so I’m looking forward to a treat. I’m very fond of Sprig Muslin.

        • Rajul Gaur
          December 10, 2022 at 12:39 pm  - Reply

          Loved going through all the talk on my favourite author, GH. Read my first one,Charity Girl, as a teenager.Incidentally I have just picked it up for a reread. Now I’m almost 70 and GH remains my favourite. On my list Venetia is at the top. What a spirited girl ! Damerel is the quintessential hero. The understanding between the two is superb. Every character, be it the highly full of himself, boring Mr Yardley,or the Byronic wannabe Oswald,the housekeeper Mrs Gurnard or the nurse, Aubrey, or Mrs Sorrier, even the Aunt and Uncle in London and of course Venetia’s irrepressible father-in-law ( step father we’d call him)..each is classic ! There are many other GH books I love ( and some I like less) but for the time being I won’t go there.

          • Kate
            December 13, 2022 at 2:27 pm 

            Yes, I love this thread with everyone’s favourites. I love Venetia. I always fall in love with Damerel even though if you examine his actions (pouncing on innocent girls picking blackberries) he behaves pretty atrociously. He comes good in the end, though, and the way it shifts to this ridiculous but wonderful counterpart of the London section in the second half is a delight. Makes me think it’s time for a reread!

          • Jeanne
            June 18, 2023 at 2:38 pm 

            Venetia is my very first of GH book. It’s my favourite then and still is today, reread it 4 times. Venetia have lived a sheltered life, never travel far other than to Harrogate, she went thru her teenage years without permission from her father to see any suitor except for the overbearing Edward. She was even called “Green Girl”. A determined young lady, improved herself by reading many books, very responsible in taking care of her brother, Aubrey and managed the big estate and even had to deal with her brother’s wife and mother-in- law.
            Meeting Dameral and knew the type of person he is, didn’t deter her from following her heart even with the strong advice from her family, friends and the Nurse. Dameral is a change man because he saw the impeccable qualities in Venetia.

  • *Name
    May 3, 2022 at 4:01 am  - Reply

    How delightful to read these comments from other Heyer enthusiasts! I read all her splendid romances before I married and then read them again to my husband whenever we traveled. He became a huge fan as well. Her books have been the basis of many a pleasurable hour of discussion and analysis. We even enjoy aping the lingo! My favorite Heyer novels are The Foundling, Arabella, Cotillion, and Friday’s Child. My husband’s favorite is The Unknown Ajax. We just finished re-reading Frederica, which beguiled a tedious road trip to Waco. I was excited to find that The Reluctant Widow had been made into a movie. Can’t wait to see it!

    • Kate
      May 4, 2022 at 1:04 pm  - Reply

      Haha, I’ve been known to tell my children not to enact me a Cheltenham tragedy, which baffles them but amuses me. Frederica is one of my favourites. And isn’t it odd that no-one has made a more recent film of GH’s work – with all this Bridgerton fervour it feels like a no-brainer but I always assume there must be some rights issue.

      • Susan Dawkins
        May 4, 2022 at 8:01 pm  - Reply

        There was a very bad film of “The Reluctant Widow” made in the 1940s, but even though appalled by it, Georgette remained open to having all of her books filmed. It seems to come down to the will for those who have the power to make it happen. I suspect many with the financial means dismiss her works as “women’s fluff”. We all know her wit can stand up to anything by Oscar Wilde. Five years ago there was talk of a “Grand Sophy” movie but I hear it has died for now. I hope she finds her way to television and with the production quality of a “Downton Abbey”. Here is a link that discusses the history. https://jenniferkloester.com/2-heyer-films-mythconceptions-things-georgette/

        • Kate
          May 5, 2022 at 1:29 pm  - Reply

          Surely there will be a film of one soon! Thanks – so interesting 🙂

          • Robi
            September 22, 2022 at 5:21 am 

            I admit I find it a bit annoying that people think Bridgerton led the way in Regency romances. HA! Georgette Heyer had wonderful plots, great characters, and snappy dialogue long before that.

          • Kate
            October 4, 2022 at 9:05 am 

            Oh my goodness, don’t get us started! 🙂

  • margaret a
    June 8, 2022 at 12:19 am  - Reply

    I love a Civil Contract, what is an impoverished heir to do If he doesn’t want to loose his heritage, why marry money of course and deal with the social implications of a wife who was not a blue blood. Devils Cub (in fact I sent to England to get a hard cover copy in the 60’s from the publisher) Powder and Patch I consider to be a nice piece of fluff. An Infamous Army has a nice story to it and you meet characters you have met in other books or their descendants and its an entertaining way to learn history. The Spanish Bride is another one that I really enjoyed, the word portrait that GH paints of Spain, el Douro and Harry Smith and Juana and the rest of the cast gives you a feeling of what it was like.

    The Toll Gate gives you a word picture of what life was like in that era and it was a delightful tale ,an orphan could be sent to the parish, there were live- in toll gates (with a modicum of comfort), highwaymen were a fact of life, and then there is the romance angle.

    I have reread my GH books to much that I am working on my 3rd or 4th copy of my paperbacks, in fact I now have them on tablet

    • Kate
      June 8, 2022 at 9:08 pm  - Reply

      Can just imagine your much-loved, battered paperbacks. Thanks for sharing your favourites.

  • Honora Lee
    July 8, 2022 at 8:55 pm  - Reply

    Wonderful books and yes some are truly awful,rape scenes etc. My favourites not listed are The Reluctant Widow and Frederica

    • Kate
      July 8, 2022 at 9:30 pm  - Reply

      Love both of those.

  • Dani
    August 16, 2022 at 2:58 am  - Reply

    Black Sheep (Miles Calverleigh–sigh), Frederica (Felix, Jessamy, and Lufra!), The Corinthian, and Sylvester are all FANTASTIC if you love The Grand Sophy and the Nonesuch. 😁

  • Elizabeth
    August 18, 2022 at 12:38 am  - Reply

    I recently reread what I’d consider three favorites: The Grand Sophy, The Unknown Ajax (how can you not love Hugo?!), and These Old Shades. Despite my love for the latter, I don’t think when I was younger I was quite as sensitive to the whole juxtaposition of Leonie as the Duke’s adopted daughter and then romantic interest–maybe that’s a bit creepy with current sensibilities. Generally, though, I take Heyer as I find her and go with it. She’s just so funny and a complete escape from now. Planning to reread The Black Sheep again next.

  • Lilith
    October 17, 2022 at 3:23 am  - Reply

    How can you recommend people not check out “these old Shades” and “Faro’s daughter”? For shame. Nobody reads Georgette Heyer because she’s woke, anymore then they read Shakespear and Jane Austen because they’re woke. We read all three of those authors because they are awesome, and These old Shades and Faro’s daughter are Georgette Heyer at her most awesomest.
    Also, Sylvester deserves an honorable mention. Of all my beloved Georgette Heyer novels, Sylvester is my absolute, all-time favorite.

    • Kate
      October 17, 2022 at 2:46 pm  - Reply

      Ah I’m with you on Sylvester – one of my very favourites too.

  • Robyn
    January 13, 2023 at 8:13 am  - Reply

    I was surprised to read that readers can praise Georgette Heyer for her skill at putting the reader in the era, made possible by the thorough research, yet also give her the “thumbs down” when that very same great research reflects the realities of the times. Does anyone really think that a well-written historical novel should reflect current attitudes? There are any number of “fluff” authors out there. No-one could ever accuse Georgette of writing “fluff”….
    As Stephen Fry writes in the introduction to The Folio Society’s edition of Venetia, “an attentive reader of Georgette Heyer will often be more familiar with the day-to-day details of Regency life than many an academic or cultural historian”

    • Kate
      January 13, 2023 at 4:57 pm  - Reply

      Yes, very good point. Her books are wonderfully evocative and all that research allows them to feel true to life in a way that something like Bridgerton could never match. And yet at the same time in making our recommendations, it felt to us important to mention some elements of the books that potential readers might not enjoy. I feel uncomfortable, for example, at the thought of a Jewish reader coming across that particular section of The Grand Sophy, even though, as you say, Heyer was reflecting the attitudes of that particular time. Duly warned, I think we can leave it to readers to make up their own minds.

  • Selina S.
    February 2, 2023 at 11:27 am  - Reply

    I thought I was the only remaining Heyer fan in the world … how wonderful to find a horde of them at the end of this wonderful post!
    I re-lived my girlhood this past year, losing myself in a collection of delightful vintage editions I’ve picked up in thrift stores.
    I fell in love with Heyer at age 12 (These Old Shades, my eternal favourite) and through my teens lapped up as many of the romances as I could find. Spent all my pocket money on them and exhausted the shelves of the school library. Now, after decades, I’m discovering what a brilliant writer she was, with a deliciously wicked sense of the comical, a scholar and meticulous history buff.
    I’m having such fun enhancing my Heyer library with delightful, unexpected second hand thrift store finds.
    I recently chuckled my way through ancient hardcover copies of Sylvester and The Reluctant Widow.
    No two plots are ever similar. GH is the most under-rated author ever.
    She is incomparable!
    My favourites:
    These Old Shades
    Devil’s Cub
    Venetia (oh, the back and forth poetry-spouting between her and Demerel!)
    The Grand Sophy
    A Convenient Marriage (naive little Horatia’s eyebrows and her stutter!)
    The Grand Sophy (that pompous Cousin Charles!)
    The Reluctant Widow
    Sylvester or The Wicked Uncle

    How did she think up these fascinating, intricate plots?

    Heck … I love them all!

    Thank you for the trip down memory lane. 😍

    • Kate
      February 4, 2023 at 1:25 pm  - Reply

      I love the fact that you had Georgette Heyers in your school library – mine certainly didn’t have any. Which, thinking about it, does seem like an omission as they are so well-researched and beautifully evoke the period, they are just the thing to inspire an interest in history while at the same time being page-turning reads. I might go and find out if my daughter’s school library has any in stock! Sylvester is a recent favourite of mine now that I’m so much more involved in the publishing world. So glad you enjoyed the article and all the comments, which are wonderful. I too love knowing there are so many fellow Heyer readers out there. One day we’re going to do a Heyer episode on the pod – we keep talking about it and not getting around to it, but we should as it would be a treat. Maybe a summer special. All the best,
      Kate

  • sharon casey
    February 20, 2023 at 1:29 am  - Reply

    I know a lot of people consider An Infamous Army boring and unreadable, but I listened to the wonderful Kirsten Atherton reading of it on Audible and really enjoyed it.

    • Kate
      February 20, 2023 at 10:51 pm  - Reply

      Good to know! I’ve never done a Heyer on audio…

  • Quentin Lumsden
    February 23, 2023 at 12:53 pm  - Reply

    Quentin Lumsden

    Hi,
    I am 77 and have been reading Georgette Heyer books almost my whole life. She is my favourite author and I love, that’s not strong enough, adore almost all the books mentioned above. I find the genuinely historical ones the least appealing. I think it is ridiculous to be woke about them. The whole magic of Those Olde Shades is the interaction between Leonie and her wicked Duke. Leon/ Leonie is amazing but much of that is because of Avon and the way he is; a boy next door would not generate those incredible sparks.
    It is the same with Venetia and Demerel and even to an extent with Annis Wytchwood and Oliver Carleton, Lady Serena and Ivo Rotherham where the men are rude and overbearing as well as totally disreputable, while the ladies are entrancing. There is a wonderful tension to the fact that we know the men are very experienced lovers dealing with women who are beautiful and feisty but sexually have no experience at all. It gives the story a feeling of Beauty and the Beast and most of your contributors probably like that story as well.
    My system with Georgette Heyer is that I ration myself to one book a month and 50 pages a day to maximise my pleasure. I look forward to each new month because I can reread one of my GH books. I even have a new trick where I start reading each day before the point where I finished the previous day so I get even more mileage out of the books.
    When I read Faro’s Daughter the other day, which she apparently wrote in a month, I enjoyed it so much that when I finished the book I read it again straight away with undiminished pleasure. Deb Grantham is a sensational female. Who could not fall in love with her.
    She reminds me a bit of a modern day version, Beth Dutton, in the Paramount + series, Yellowstone, who is a similarly feisty beauty for the 21st century.
    This is not intended as marketing because my books are unpublished but I am so familiar with GH’s work and love the books so much that I have started to write my own. So far they are shorter, around 45,000 words rather than 80,000 to 100,000 although I am now determined to write a longer book, a novel rather than a novella. They are unashamedly tributes to GH. I want them to read as much like her books as possible though I have not attempted to match her mastery of historical detail. Like her books my efforts have a lot of dialogue and it is all about the interaction between the hero and the heroine and whatever obstacles are keeping them apart.
    I am pleased with my efforts so far and get the same pleasure from my books as I get from hers though that may reflect that I wrote them. If anyone wants to read them they can get in touch with you and you could send them my email so I can email them the manuscript. If you, Kate, want to read one that would be amazing but I am sure you have bigger fish to fry.
    I have bought myself a sound mixer and an audio interface so that I can record my books and other stuff (my main job is writing and talking about the stock market). It is great fun listening to them being read back, so much so, that I am thinking of creating my own home made GH audible books, that way I can read them twice, into the mike and then sitting back with a glass of whisky and listening to them. I think I may start with Venetia because I particularly love the stories which involve beautiful diamonds of the first water and rakes, who almost invariable are quite a bit older so more experienced in every way (and rich of course, the dibs have to be in tune).
    As it happens, A Civil Contract, preferred by many of your contributors, is one of my least favourite GH books if there is such a thing; perhaps this is because I am a man and struggle to see the appeal of such a dowdy female although it is true that GH is so talented that even that story becomes romantic when she writes it.

    • Kate
      February 25, 2023 at 11:23 pm  - Reply

      Dear Quentin, It was lovely to read your message. We’re always meaning to do a special episode on Heyer – and perhaps this year we will – but in the meantime (in case you haven’t come across them already) you might enjoy the Heyer Today podcast, and also they did an episode of Backlisted on Venetia that was a brilliant listen. Episode 30. I’m so glad her books bring you so much pleasure.

    • Briget
      March 10, 2023 at 12:03 am  - Reply

      Hi Quentin – I recently found this site and commented. I just turned 71 myself (on February 23rd, the day of your comment!) and it’s nice to know that there are others here who have enjoyed Georgettte Heyer’s mastery of the Regency period for as long as I have. I was struck by your comment about not being “woke” about these novels – while I can’t possibly be NOT in favor of elevated sensibilities, I tend to agree with you about the enjoyment of these superb novels. The scene in The Great Sophy, while admittedly a nasty bit of anti-semitism, remains one of my favorites because of Sophy herself. Talk about a capable feminist female!!

  • Briget
    March 9, 2023 at 11:55 pm  - Reply

    I have read all of Heyer’s Regency romances – I started in my teens and never quit re-reading them! I can’t really choose a favorite, but my best Heyer moment was when I was an undergrad in English Lit doing the Regency period. My professor remarked (about something in one of Byron’s poems) that he “didn’t know what that slang meant.”
    “I do!” I said. And I did – from reading Georgette Heyer! Score!

    • Kate
      March 10, 2023 at 12:01 am  - Reply

      Haha. Love that story.

  • Lynne Connolly
    March 15, 2023 at 10:16 pm  - Reply

    I love her books. Dikscovered them at 13 with Regency Buck (not her best, but it got me hooked!) and just didn’t stop reading them. Never got into the mysteries, so maybe I’ll try again.
    The Grand Sophy has never been one of my favourites, because I don’t like Sophy very much. That scene with the Jewish moneylender is appalling, but it would work just as well if all the references to Jewishness were taken out. A horrible, backstreet moneylender taking advantage of a gullible boy.

    • Kate
      March 17, 2023 at 5:33 am  - Reply

      The interesting thing about Sophie, I think, is that she’s effectively one of Heyer’s usual male characters, but here in female guise, and I think Heyer really enjoyed herself with this reversal of traditional roles. Interesting, too, in the light of the recent round of revisions to classic works, I wonder if this particular Heyer could potentially be tweaked.

  • Quentin Lumsden
    March 28, 2023 at 4:38 pm  - Reply

    Hi guys,

    I have done the audio book thing with Venetia. It is a slow process because I do a chapter at a time and there are 21 chapters. I go to sleep listening to them. I think I have fallen in love with Venetia. I feel about her like she feels about Damerel. It’s almost weird, she has become so real to me.

    • Kate
      March 28, 2023 at 10:57 pm  - Reply

      Your comment makes me want to read it again. I love Venetia too. That’s the thing about Georgette Heyer’s characters, they leap off the page.

  • Cordy
    June 8, 2023 at 7:34 pm  - Reply

    Wow, just reread this thread as I’m reading False Colours for like my 50th time. Interesting that no one has mentioned April Lady, Powder and Patch, or the Corinthian! I won’t slant the convo with my own opinion. And, my FWIW, my personal favorites are:

    1) Reluctant Widow (love it!)
    2) The Talisman Ring
    3) The Grand Sophy ( the repartee between Sophie and Charlbury is brilliant! Why didn’t she fall for him instead of Charles????)
    4) Cotillion (Maybe a sentimental vote because it was my first Heyer! And yes, I totally love Lord Legerwood as well!)

    • Kate
      June 12, 2023 at 10:28 pm  - Reply

      Haha. Yes, that’s such a good point about Charlbury. I love The Reluctant Widow – that was the first one I discovered, I think, and I read and reread it so many times before I came across any others. It’s such a good one.

    • John Shelton
      October 11, 2023 at 7:48 am  - Reply

      I have read all of the romances except two and half of the mysteries and just devoured them. But I hated April Lady! I couldn’t keep it in the house
      Anyone?

      • brc-admin
        October 14, 2023 at 5:31 pm  - Reply

        Apparently even Heyer herself wasn’t crazy about it. ‘Heyer’s own estimate of her novel’s story line was delivered in a letter to her friend Patricia Wallace: “This one is going to touch an All Time Low. No, really, it STINKS!” For her it is only saved by its ending, which “incorporates every last one of the characters which are my stock-in-trade, and ends with the sort of absurd scene which (I hope) raises my novels slightly above the Utterly Bloody Standard”‘ (from Jennifer Kloester’s biography)

  • Lila
    June 14, 2023 at 7:43 pm  - Reply

    Oh no, a conversation about my favourite author – I simply cannot keep my mouth shut! Isn’t it wonderful that I’m not alone in my secret tendre for Lord Legerwood? How Georgette tucked him away so cleverly is simply typical for her, like an easter egg for readers who’d like to see one of her heroes married, a father and unattainable.

    My first Heyer was Civil Contract and I was twelve. I remember telling a friend all about it on a bike trip; I must have bored her to tears but I was sooo excited about the book. Like Lydia, I had a schoolgirlish admiration for the beeeautiful Julia and recognizing plain Jenny’s real value was a measure of my own maturation process. Adam is of course a horrible little snob, just like his mother, but Lydia and Mr Chawleigh make more than up for it. Oh, and Brough would have deserved his own book (“m’mother… m’father…”).

    I spent my pocket money on Horatia (just love the scene where Pel, Pom and the brother-in-law break down in laughter after confronting Crosby, I always laugh with them), on Sylvester (loved the gentleness of Sylvester’s mother) and Arabella (lots of exposition, and the intellectual gap between Arabella and Mr Beaumaris is a bit too wide, though Ulysses makes up for anything – isn’t it wonderful that Poodle Byng is a historical character?).

    I have by now read them all. I love them all even when I don’t like the heroine (Frederica – she’s just as self centered as her marquis, she really only cares about her siblings and shows no kindness towards anyone else) or the hero (Ivo Rotherham was a bit too much even for me – somewhere between Ivo and Max Ravenscar there’s a fine line, and Ivo, NOOOO). My favourites are books with splendid dogs (Bouncer!!!!) and houses with character (Fontley is a character in itself, so is Stanyon).

    My favourite heroines: Ancilla Trent, Venetia Lanyon, Abigail Wendover, Sarah Thane. Intelligent, believable, witty. I love the young heroines, too – who wouldn’t love Kitten???, but the heroines with a touch more life experience are more interesting.

    Nobody does stupid people, absurd conversations and spectacular finishing scenes better than Georgette. yes, some of her novels end too abruptly (Corinthian???) and I’d love to see it all wrapped up nicely. Let’s be honest, i don’t want to be kicked out of Heyerland, I simply want to stay for the wedding and the aftermath. That’s one thing Balogh does wonderfully (although her lack of wit is really bothering me), she really leads you out softly.

    Concerning the anti-Semitic scene in Sophy: they toned it down in the Kindle version because it was unbearable. It spoiled the book for me which is otherwise fantastic. I could listen to Cecilia and Fawnhope forever. However, Sophy never really changes and she sets into work a precise clockwork of events that will bring her what she wants. There is no emotional tension, no moment of pain like Venetia or Phoebe go through, and she leaves me a bit cold, with all her kindness and splendid way with words.

    And my favourite heroes? Hugo, Freddie, Waldo. Kind, reliable, with a delightful sense of humour.

    Heyer created a world that will always call me back. Every two years, I re-read her books, and I enjoy them more each time. Regency romance suggests sentimental garbage but Heyer’s are the exact opposite of that. They’re highly intelligent, sparkling with wit and yet have a strong base of common sense. People do crazy things but for good reason. And her characters always behave true to their character. You simply know where you are with Ancilla; she may do unexpected things but she would never hurt her Ancilla-ness just to allow for a nice plot twist.

    Thank you all for loving her the way I did. I feel we’re part of a not-so-small secret society who ride ventre-a-terre for a good book, and are not afraid of making a cake of ourselves by admitting that we love and cherish Georgette.

    • Kate
      August 17, 2023 at 9:20 pm  - Reply

      How much I enjoyed reading your thoughts, thanks so much for taking the time to share them. I feel if we ever met we’d be able to sit down and compare notes for hours.

    • Kate
      August 17, 2023 at 9:21 pm  - Reply

      PS That’s so interesting to know about the kindle version of The Grand Sophy.

  • Anna77
    June 18, 2023 at 3:15 am  - Reply

    I’m not sure if anybody else has commented on this because I haven’t read through all the 99 comments, but you’ve got a glaring error for Arabella. It’s not Arabella Wedgewood, it’s Arabella Tallant (aka the little Tallant). I hope this can be corrected!

    • Anna77
      June 18, 2023 at 3:35 am  - Reply

      Also, strictly speaking, Arabella is not traveling with her governess. Miss Blackburn is a governess who is no longer needed at her post with another family and needs to travel up to London, and conveniently is able to travel with Arabella as chaperone.

    • Kate
      June 18, 2023 at 8:59 am  - Reply

      They have not! Thank you for letting me know, I have amended immediately (whilst slapping hand to forehead).

      • Anna77
        June 22, 2023 at 9:39 am  - Reply

        Lol and you are very welcome!

  • Peggy
    August 2, 2023 at 2:46 pm  - Reply

    I love Georgette Heyer. I have read all of her Regency novels and mystery novels. The only really bad one was The Corn is Green (I think that is the name) and maybe Penhallow.

    I do believe that people reading now should not judge books or films by current social standards. They should be read as “of their time”. I also find the criticism that Avon is not redeemable is not valid. Not every character has to be light and bright and good to the core. He has a villainous side that never leaves him, through both novels, but his redeeming quality is his ability to love Leone and his son, that doesn’t mean he has to be a saint.

    • Kate
      August 17, 2023 at 9:16 pm  - Reply

      I’ve never heard of The Corn is Green – is that one of the mysteries? I think Heyer liked her villains as much as her heroes, don’t you, and Avon is a good example of a main character where the two combine.

  • Deb
    August 24, 2023 at 12:51 am  - Reply

    I’m so happy to see there are so many Georgette Heyer fans. My first Heyer was Devil’s Cub and I re-read Frederica at least once a year. Venetia is probably my favorite heroine. I just finished re-reading Venetia for the umpteenth time. Damarel and Alverstoke are among my top Heyer heroes. I started reading Heyer in my teens and I’m now nearly 65. My favorite Heyers have changed over time but so have I. I agree with an earlier poster that one should read Heyer’s books in the context of the time they were written and the commentary they provide of the Regency period. If readers are triggered by and then avoid books that portray attitudes and scenarios that aren’t acceptable in the current climate then they will miss out on many works of excellent literature. OK. Stepping off my soapbox. Reading Georgette Heyer is sheer pleasure for me.

  • Pam P
    October 17, 2023 at 8:01 am  - Reply

    I always loved the prosaic Drusilla as the heroine from the Quiet Gentleman. What a name! I read it when I was 13 and was probably the only person of my age who knew what prosaic meant!

    • brc-admin
      October 26, 2023 at 8:41 pm  - Reply

      The Quiet Gentleman is one of my earliest and most-loved Heyers. Love Drusilla, and also her wise mama.

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