“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?
Cover of the first edition
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
Greetings, Gentle Readers. A question about the copyright of Georgette Heyer’s books came up on Twitter, and I thought it worth dedicating a blog post to it. I hasten to add that I am not a lawyer, nor an expert on copyright. I am just putting together the information I know.
The Black Moth was published in 1921. My understanding of copyright is that any book published prior to 1923 is in the public domain. The text is available on Project Gutenberg, which lends credence to this idea. However, my paperback copy of The Black Moth, published by Harlequin in 2003, has a copyright statement of “Copyright 1929 by Georgette Heyer.” Was the copyright re-registered in 1929? Does the pre-1923 original publication trump that re-registration? Perhaps. Like I said, not an expert. Sourcebooks is keeping it in print, and no doubt pays royalties to the Heyer estate, if one is scrupulous about such things. Continue reading
“The drawing room was tacitly regarded as our private domain and there we acted play after play…all dialogue completely impromptu, of course, but the plots always produced by Georgette…I can still recognize some of the plots in her books, particularly Beauvallet and The Masqueraders and The Black Moth!” – Jane Aiken Hodge, quoting a childhood friend of Georgette Heyer
Georgette Heyer published her first book, The Black Moth, when she was 19 years old, as she said, “First crack out of the bag.” It is a remarkable feat for any writer, all the more so because in Heyer’s case it was the fulfillment of an ambition to write, though in perhaps an unexpected way. She didn’t set out to write a novel when she came up with this tale, but she produced a cracking good read anyway. Continue reading
“I have indulged myself, for the purposes of this book, in reading her entire output in chronological order, and it has proved a rewarding experience as well as a delightful one.” – Jane Aiken Hodge, The Private World of Georgette Heyer
I’m embarking on a reading (and writing) project that I’ve been thinking about for a while: reading all of Georgette Heyer’s novels in order of publication, including the “suppressed” novels and the mysteries and the historicals and the anthologies and, well, all of them! I’m also going to be blogging about the books as I go along, because why not? Continue reading
Never Assume – that person messing with his or her mobile might be reading a book.
The first ebook I read in its entirety was Fanny Burney’s Cecilia, which I read on the tiny screen of my Palm Treo 680. We were reading it for my book group* and I tried to order it on Amazon, searching for “Fanny Burney.” It didn’t come up (I should have searched for “Frances Burney,” la-de-dah, Amazon), and I stupidly assumed (not all assumptions are stupid, but an awful lot of them are) that the book was out of print.
I had the brilliant idea of downloading the ebook from Gutenberg.org, and read the whole thing on my Treo. I was gripped by the story, which in itself is not extraordinary, but the experience of reading it was sort of like an archeological dig into Jane Austen’s head; it was obvious to me that the book was a favorite of Austen’s and had shaped her own style and influenced her greatly.
But I was also thrilled to pieces that I didn’t have to lug around a 900-page book. It was right there on my phone, which I had with me all the time anyway. I had no problem making my way through this very long book on a three-inch smartphone screen. I was all in with ebooks after that.
*well, some of us read it, some of us made fun of those who read it, which makes one wonder why they joined a book group if they didn’t want to, you know, read the books
Editorial Note: When the latest trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was released, I was quite taken with the hero shot of Thorin, especially since the first trailer had (in my opinion) not nearly enough Thorin. I posted a link to the trailer on my personal Facebook page, and my friend Karen commented that she was taking a liking to Thranduil, king of Mirkwood and Legolas’ father. I replied that he was being rather Lady Catherine de Bourghish, as he was advising Evangeline Lilly’s character Tauriel to guard against raising expectations in Legolas that could not be fulfilled. All of a sudden we’re in a Jane Austen novel! Karen demanded a parody. I demanded payment, to wit, one screencap of Thorin’s hero shot. Heather delivered it within moments, and I was
stuck writing obliged to write the parody. Not that I minded very much. It’s worth the payment, plus being a lot of fun.
I don’t know about you, Gentle Readers, but I’d write just about anything for that.
Since Tauriel is not in the book, but an original character created for the movie by Peter Jackson and company, I went looking online for information about her character, and found this.
“Tauriel is the head of the Elven Guard,” Lilly explains. “She’s a Sylvan Elf, which means she’s of a much lower order than the elves we all became acquainted with in The Lord of the Rings. She doesn’t hold the same kind of status that Arwen or Galadriel or Elrond or Legolas do — she’s much more lowly. She sort of goes against the social order of the elves a little bit.”
Seriously, we are in a Jane Austen novel, y’all.
Thus, in fulfillment of a debt and for the lawls, herewith we present a little bit of silliness, where Jane Austen meets J.R.R. Tolkien and tells him he needs some more chicks in his little stories. Continue reading
Attention British authors (and authors from other countries, too): please to learn proper usage of your own aristocratic titles! The wife of a knight is never, ever Lady Firstname (“Robert Galbraith,” I’m looking at you*), ever!** Even in 2013! Georgette Heyer could learn them, Dorothy L. Sayers could learn them, a Yank (me) could learn them for pity’s sake, it’s not beneath you. There’s even a handy chart.
That being said, I’m available for consultation. I charge only a free copy of the ebook.
*Awesome book. Review to come. Rantage about the general situation also to come.
**Unless of course she is the daughter of an earl/marquess/duke, which did not appear to be the case here.