I have already confessed my addition to Jane Austen’s writings. Left me now admit to a near-addiction to Georgette Heyer as well. At least, to her Regency era novels so far.
When I first read Georgette Heyer, I thought, “Aha! A modern-day Jane!” But the more I read and re-read both, the more differences I perceive. Subtle, but distinct. But what are they?
Maybe the heroines. Jane’s may be lively, have ‘fine eyes,’ or be everything that is amiable, but do not generally run amok and cause mayhem. Georgette Heyer’s, on the other hand, can be free-thinking, independent minded, or, like The Grand Sophy, have no ‘sensibility,’ i.e. squemishness!
Maybe it’s the heroes. Can we see Fitzwilliam Darcy ranting and raving at Elizabeth Bennett like Charles Rivenhall does with Sophy Stanton-Lacy? Good grief, no!
Personally, I think it is a matter of time and timing. Jane Austen was not writing “Regency romances.” She was writing contemporary fiction about people, places, customs and manners that she knew intimately. She didn’t have to do meticulous research to know the correct terms for each garment her characters wore- she just had to look in her closet. She didn’t need to read volumes on how people behaved in that period of time- she just had to observe all the people around her. Therein lies the difference between these two authors.
Don’t get me wrong- I love Ms Heyer’s books. I even bought the e-book, Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester! But having spent the last few weeks re-reading Persuasion and The Grand Sophy, among others, I was struck by the differences instead of the similarities. That’s why I love to re-read books – you always see something new and fresh in a good book.