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Friday, June 12

Seen On the Blogosphere: Heyer Better than Austen?

While doing background research for Georgette Heyer, I ran across this statement:
"I don’t quite remember when I started reading this book [Friday's Child], probably at the end of June or beginning of July and I only finished it tonight! I’m already not a fan of romance books but I thought I’d give this book a try as it was sent from Sourcebooks. This was my first Georgette Heyer book and at least, it’s better than Austen."
Let's hope this writer is absurdly naive and young and that she is just beginning to flex her critic's muscles. Heyer, as serious readers will agree, is most definitely not "better" than Austen. Had this young person written that Heyer's books are fun, breezier, and easier to comprehend, I would not have given her statement a second thought. For those who have difficulty reading Jane Austen's 19th century language or understanding Regency customs and etiquette, Georgette Heyer's books provide a rollicking introduction to understanding that bygone time. Sherwood Smith observes:

"If a person has read enough Heyer and others who emulate her, he or she ought not to find Austen's language impenetrable, and will probably be able to comprehend the wit. Anyone who loves, say, Friday's Child ought to laugh out loud at the absurdities of Mrs. Norris, or enjoy the sly selfishness of Isabella Thorpe--or recognize how John Dashwood, so continually worried about his position in society, becomes more servile than his servants."

While Georgette Heyer does not possess Jane Austen's immense literary stature, one can be assured that her novels are historically accurate. An Infamous Army is so true to life (every line uttered by Wellington in the novel is attributed to the real-life man), that it was rumoured to have been on the reading list for the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Sourcebooks has been reissuing Georgette Heyer's frothy regency romances, allowing me to fall in love with the author's works all over again. For my review of The Corinthian, go to Jane Austen's World.

Coming soon from Sourcebooks: The Grand Sophy. I consider this novel to be one of her best and have been Twittering about it at this link.


Anonymous said...

I just read my first Heyer novel this week, The Convenient Marriage, which also claimed Heyer was just as good as reading Austen. While they're light and easy to follow, Heyer is definitely no Austen. For one thing, her characterizations are not nearly well-developed, and I kept having the distinct feeling that she based her characters in TCM on characters in P&P.

Vic said...

Agreed. While Heyer's novels are fun and worth reading, if I were ordered to get rid of all my books except one, it would be Persuasion or Pride and Prejudice.

Ruth said...

Reading Heyer's books just makes me happy. They are, as you say, fun and breezy reads, but she's no Jane. Without Jane I don't think I would enjoy or appreciate Heyer's books like I do! I need to check Sourcebook's website to see if they have reissued any more of her books that I don't have yet (I have a mix of mass market paperbacks and trade paperback versions in my collection). Do you know if they will be reissuing her mysteries?

Vic said...

Ruth, they are reissuing their mysteries now.

Lynn said...

Are they serious ? Never !

Vic said...

Lynn, yes the young lady who wrote the blog made the statement. I'm not sure Sourcebooks would make that claim, but they must know that Austen fans tend to like Heyer books as well.

Heyer's 30's drawing room mysteries have been coming out. I am not reviewing them, but I recall them as being rather tame compared to mysteries of today.

Lynn said...

Nice to know Vic, thanks ! ( and let's hope none of us ever is ordered to get rid of all our beloved books except one. ) LOL

Josette said...


I am the writer of the first statement you quoted in this post!

Yes, I do agree with you that I am young and naive and definitely immature at times, so I guess I'll need to be careful about what I write the next time.

Oh well, I probably shouldn't make such a quick assumption that Heyer was 'better' than Austen. I've read one and a half Austens (Pride & Prejudice and half of Sense & Sensibility) and found P&P a little too long-winded for me the first time I read it. This was why I thought Heyer's book made easier reading.

Jane Eyre is more like my kind of classic novel. I love Jane Eyre and the characters!

After this, I'm going to start reading Emma, my favourite Jane Austen story. I think I will enjoy it since I've watched the movie many times and almost memorized the entire script.

Anyway, thanks for dropping by my blog and reading my review on Heyer's book. :) I admit that I didn't like her books much. Perhaps I'm not used to her style which I've never encountered before!