“Theme handled with restraint, but not needed in small libraries.” – from a review in the Wisconsin Library Bulletin, May 1924 (ouch!)
Instead of the Thorn was Georgette Heyer’s first novel with a contemporary setting. Of course, she wrote it in 1922 or so, so that makes it a period piece for our purposes. In fact, it’s a year or two before the current season of Downton Abbey is set, though the characters are middle-class and the plot is darker in some ways. Not in the occasionally silly dramatic-death soap opera way of DA; this feels like real life.
“She had expected to feel a heroine’s exultation when Stephen slipped the ring on to her finger, but the ring was too big, and she had wanted sapphires.”
With Love and Friendship currently filming, I’ve been thinking a lot about the plot of Lady Susan, upon which, of course, the film is based, and how it would work in the film medium. I stress I have no idea how Whit Stillman, who I believe has written the adaptation, has decided to adapt the original; I am working completely with the original as Austen wrote it.
In case you haven’t read this novella yet (and why not? It’s quite short and enjoyable, and free to read if you have an e-reader, tablet, or smartphone), be aware I will be discussing the entire plot, so if a spoiler alert is needed, then: spoiler alert! Someone more or less familiar with the story will have an easier time following along. Continue reading Plotting Lady Susan
Published in The Happy Magazine, September 4, 1922
Republished in Georgette Heyer: A Critical Retrospective by Mary Fahnestock-Thomas
As promised…”and now for something completely different!”
In her biography of Georgette Heyer, Jennifer Kloester writes that Heyer was extremely productive in the early 1920s. Along with her books, she was publishing short stories in magazines. These markets were common in the UK at that time and paid well, and Heyer was helping to support her family, so the extra money was no doubt welcome. By combing through microfilm of hundreds of magazines, Kloester found evidence of dozens of these stories, and thinks there are many more that haven’t yet been discovered. Heyer’s first published short story was republished in in Mary Fahnestock-Thomas’ book, Georgette Heyer: A Critical Retrospective, and I thought it would be fun to re-read it and write a blog post on it. Continue reading All of Heyer: “A Proposal to Cicely”
Published 1923 as The Transformation of Philip Jettan by Stella Martin Republished in 1930 as Powder and Patch without the original final chapter
“Short on plot, it is full of light-hearted comedy, and surprising people like it.” – Jane Aiken Hodge
Powder and Patch is not one of Heyer’s best-known or best-loved novels, though it’s very entertaining. It also had an interesting journey to publication–both times.
It is not known why Heyer published Jettan under a pseudonym. Jennifer Kloester offers several theories, all of them good, and among the usual reasons why authors have used pseudonyms even till the present day. Perhaps Heyer, having published one rather serious historical novel in Roxhythe, and working on a contemporary novel, Instead of the Thorn, which also addressed serious subjects, did not want the lighthearted Jettan to be unfavorably compared to these other works, or give readers the wrong idea about the kind of novels she wrote. All during her writing career, Heyer struggled with the fact that her books, however popular, were not taken seriously, and wanted to write serious historical novels. It’s very possible that at the beginning of her career, she was trying to establish herself as a serious author. Continue reading All of Heyer: Powder and Patch
“It is probably the worst book Georgette Heyer ever wrote.” – Jane Aiken Hodge
Have you ever read a book and it was kind of awful, but you kept reading it because it had to get better? And then it never does?
It pains me to say that about The Great Roxhythe. It pains me to say that about any of Georgette Heyer’s novels. She is a favorite, as the Marquis of Roxhythe himself was a favorite of Charles II, and one does not like to think ill of one’s favorite; but I suppose that every author–even a favorite–is entitled to a dud. And even while I didn’t care much for Roxhythe, it is not a dud, not completely. And even bad Heyer is better than a lot of other books.
“The Great Roxhythe, The Transformation of Philip Jettan (later retitled Powder and Patch) and Simon the Coldheart were all published by 1925. They are all interesting as early experiments in the historical mode, and it is also illuminating that she later suppressed The Great Roxhythe and Simon the Coldheart. They were experiments in a direction that was not to prove propitious for her.” – Jane Aiken Hodge