Declaration of interest

My other twitter account @georgettedaily has been posting declarations of love and proposals of marriage from some of my favourite Georgette Heyer novels.

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I realise that not everyone uses twitter (very wise, my friends, very wise. There be dragons!) so I thought I’d share the quotes on here. No attributions, so you have to guess which book. Enjoy! You can always put your answers in the comments, and as you’re a Georgette Heyer reader, I know I can trust you not to google.

  1. “I shall marry a wench out of a gaming-house with as much pomp and ceremony as I can contrive!”

  2. “You don’t feel you could marry me instead? Got no brains, of course and I ain’t a handsome fellow, like Jack, but I love you.”

  3. “I love you, you know,” he said conversationally. “Will you marry me?”

  4. “To be honest with you,” she said, with the utmost gravity, “I have been meaning to marry you these 10 days and more.”

  5. “You have never bored me.” He possessed himself of her hands, and held them firmly. “The only woman I have ever known who has never done so.”

  6. “Little one,” he said, very low,”since you will stoop to wed me, I pledge you my word that you shall not in future have cause to regret it.”

  7. “For years I never gave marriage a thought. And then I met you, and loved you, and found that I was thinking of very little else!”

  8. “I am trying to tell you that I love you, and all you will say is that I have beautiful manners!”

  9. “Will you marry me, vile and abominable girl that you are?”  “Yes, but, mind, it is only to save my neck from being wrung!”

  10. “When you smile at me like that, it’s all holiday with me! Oh god, I love you to the edge of madness!”

Answers now available here.

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One for Georgette Heyer fans/nerds mostly. Of which there can never be too many.

“Our appreciation of much-loved books changes as we age.” Discuss with reference to a favourite novel.

Don’t shoot me pleeeeez, but I’ve gone right off Annis Wychwood in Lady of Quality. I still enjoy the romance and the banter, but on a recent re-read I just felt, well,  Annis, get over yourself. (Disclaimer: this post written from a place of deep Heyer-love.)

lady of qu betterThe biggest sadness/trauma in Annis’s life was the restriction felt by a rich, independent woman forced to live a best-supporting-actor life in her brother’s house. Then guess what, she can afford to get her own place. Yes, it’s still boring, but for the times, my, did she have it easy. Her greatest anxiety in the book is that her protégée, Lucilla, might be thought ‘fast’ by the Bath Quizzes, thus damaging her prospects on the marriage-mart. First-world problems, Annis, first-world problems.

I’m not judging Annis by the standards of different historical times or fiction genres – even within the context of the historical period, and within the wonderfully integrated fantasy world that Heyer created, I think she is, as she might say herself, a poor creature – selfish, contemptuous and espousing values of extraordinary triviality. She can be kind to her sister, true, and she’s intelligent and beautiful – which helps: imagine if she wasn’t beautiful – she could never get away with being so snarky.

Compare and contrast your chosen novel with an earlier work by the same author.

sylvester-or-the-wicked-uncle-georgette-heyer

I couldn’t help comparing her to Phoebe in Sylvester. Phoebe has a proper Cinderella story – dead mother, weak father, cruel stepmother. Her response is to write a book – a creative response from within herself. Phoebe cares passionately about justice, about the underdog: she is more concerned with Sylvester’s moral character than with propriety or his status, but she is also capable of compassionate understanding of how the death of his brother affected him.

Phoebe’s behaviour is driven by her sense of justice, by remorse and self-criticism, by her care for others, whereas Annis’s behaviour is all aimed at her own comfort within a particularly limited palette.

All fiction is disguised autobiography. Discuss.

When I read Jennifer Kloester’s biography recently, I felt that the difference between these two heroines may well have been a reflection of Georgette’s own state at the time of writing. She was at her happiest and most productive when she wrote Sylvester; but Lady of Quality was her last book, and she was pretty unwell and tired. Stylistically, romantically, I think it is as good as any of her books, despite being very much a rehash of Black Sheep, but I think the narrowness and grumpiness of Annis’s inner (and outer) world, reflect the exhaustion, and dare I say it, rather self-righteous bitterness of a woman who had lived a life of both unthinking privilege and extremely hard work. I think there’s an autobiographical element in Annis, in Georgette’s idealising of Annis’s crossness, in the privileging of appearances over values and heart, but Annis lacks the saving grace of Georgette herself, whose achievements were hard won by her own graft. Annis was a daddy’s girl like Georgette, but Annis simply inherited money which gave her freedom. GH worked incredibly hard, and was the main breadwinner for much of her marriage, as well as supporting her mother and at times, her brothers. In a sense, she had earned the right to be a curmudgeon: Annis certainly didn’t.

I welcome comments and further discussion. It’s possible that you may not agree with the above!

The trouble with genre……

I love genre novels. Well, I’d better qualify that, because I’ve suddenly thought of 30 or 40 genres that I don’t love. So – I love crime, I love historical, I love romance, I love a whole load of sub-genres  – I don’t love science fiction (I’m sorry, I love some science fiction, I’m just not drawn to the genre –  no offence, seriously).

And just by writing a book based on what happens to Mary Bennet after the end of Pride and Prejudice, I am de facto writing a genre novel (mem to self: look up de facto and check that it means what you think it means [alternatively just publish the post and let someone have the pleasure of correcting you]) I guess the genre is:

– historical romance

– regency romance

– Jane Austen sequel

– fan fiction

All of the above.

And that causes me certain difficulties, because I’m also trying to write a novel which is primarily about the idea that a shrivelled, shallow and thoroughly unlikeable person such as Mary, can develop, given the chance, into a human being who is capable of loving and being loved – and I don’t just mean romantic love.

But of course, genre fiction sets up expectations – and readers have expectations – and I have expectations – that there will be a proper romance, with a proper Jane Austen type ending with love and marriage and all that.

I don’t want to give too much away (spoiler alert: I love genre fiction), but my recent structural editing job has been all about the demands of genre. And it was a killer to do – because well, apparently writing is hard.

But it’s done, it’s done, it’s done.

I think.