Where next after Jane Austen?
You know how it is. You’ve read and re-read all the six novels – from Sense and Sensibility to Persuasion. You’ve gone on to The History of England, chuckled at the juvenilia, felt the disappointment of the abrupt endings of the unfinished novels. You’re left wanting more Jane Austen. Where do you go next?
You could do worse than to try the Regency novels of Georgette Heyer. Although she has lost the immense popularity she enjoyed in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, her novels have not been out of print since her debut, The Black Moth, appeared in 1921, when she was only nineteen years old. After this adventure story set in the eighteenth-century, she began to specialise in meticulously researched tales of the aristocracy of England and France in the Georgian period. Many of her best-known and
most popular novels are set in the turbulent and fashionable Regency, and are chock-full of sumptuous period detail, from the preferred trimming of ball gowns to European diplomacy during the Napoleonic Wars.
For the Jane Austen lover, Georgette Heyer has more than just the time period to recommend her. She has the same keen eye for social detail, and describes these situations with a great deal of wit. Her novels are faster-paced than Jane Austen’s, which tends to leave less time for the leisurely psychological exploration we appreciate in Jane Austen’s presentation of her characters. In return, however, Heyer offers well-crafted plots, a wide range of social situations, and a good old-fashioned dose of satisfying romance.
Popular for her Georgian novels before Barbara Cartland, her contemporary, began her historical romances, Georgette Heyer has defined the genre of Regency romance. And you are not likely to run out of her novels as soon as you ran out of Jane Austen’s: she wrote 41 historical novels, the vast majority of which are set in the Georgian period. She also published a series of detective stories set in the twentieth century. Although she is no longer as well-known as she has been, her popularity endures, and both first- and second-hand bookshops are sure to stock some of her titles. It’s definitely worth a browse!
The novels of Georgette Heyer have recently been reprinted you can buy a copy by clicking the button below.
Featured image: Georgette Heyer, via The Times
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