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REVIEW: Black Moth by Georgette Heyer

Dear Romance Readers Everywhere:

Cover image for Black Moth by Georgette HeyerI’m sure if you’ve ever had a conversation with more than…oh, two romance readers, one (or both) have them have told you to read Georgette Heyer’s books. Or squeeed over them. Or said how much Heyer has influenced her life. Or said something about how she just doesn’t get Heyer. Or otherwise mentioned Georgette Heyer. There’s a good reason for this, of course. For all intents and purposes, Georgette Heyer invented the historical romance, and certainly the Regency romance in its current form (which is not to say that there weren’t historical romances before she was writing — The Scarlet Pimpernel, anyone? — but she solidified the conventions, the heroes, the heroines, the situations, the languages, the time period).

She did not do this with The Black Moth, however. The Black Moth, in fact, was her very first book, published when she was 19. It is set in 1751, not in Regency England, but instead solidly in Georgian England, where men wore wigs, high heels, and make-up as well as the women. Published in 1921, between the wars (and 15 years after The Scarlet Pimpernel), The Black Moth tells the tale of Jack Carstares, Earl of Wyncham, exiled from polite society because he cheated at cards. He rescues the innocent Diana Beauleigh from the clutches of Tracy Belmanoir, the Duke of Andover…except he only does this just less than half way through the book. Up until this point, they hadn’t even met in a book that is nominally their romance.

So this book also tells the tale of Richard Carstares, Jack’s brother, the man who actually cheated and let his brother take the blame because he was so wildly in love with Lavinia Belmanoir, the Duke’s sister. They married after the scandal, but Richard has been wracked with guilt for six years and is convinced that to make things right with Jack, he has to sacrifice his beloved wife’s affections. So it’s the love story of a marriage in trouble — in fact, to me, this romance was much more compelling than Jack and Diana.

And it’s also the story of Tracy, nicknamed the Devil, because he knows all, sees all, has very little morals, and manipulates everyone in the book, but is still, somehow, a sympathetic character — he is, in fact, the prototype of the repellent, yet unaccountably attractive dark, amoral hero.

This book is, as Heyer’s own characters would say, a mad romp. It’s got sword fights and gambling, gallops over the countryside, abductions, love, melodrama, wonderful characters, and so much fun. It’s not her best, mainly because her best is truly superlative. But for a 19 year old, it’s pretty awesome. The three different subplots all roll together and tie off beautifully together at the end. I personally love it because above all else, it’s really an exploration of the definition of a “good man.” While Diana in particular is a bit of a cipher, more a porcelain doll than anything else (although she shows some spirit when she basically proposes to Jack), the other characters are really well-drawn. If they feel like cliches, it’s because Heyer invented them and they’ve since been reused time and again. You really feel for the characters, despite or even because of the melodrama and I actually love the character of Richard (except in that he’s called “Dicky”!) the best, because he’s tortured and makes the most moral progress in the story.

All in all, it’s over-the-top and laugh-out-loud funny and is a good place to start with Heyer’s books, because it’s just so much fun and, to our Regency-saturated reading habits, a little different.

Grade: B

Best regards,
-Joan/Sarah F.

P.S. And as an Easter egg for those few who don’t already know, all the characters are revisited with different names and slightly different relationships to each other in These Old Shades, in which Tracy, now Justin, the Duke of Avon, finds his HEA. These Old Shades is one of my favorite Heyers, but then, I think about 15 books occupy that list. :)

P.P.S I’m writing this review because I’ve been immersed in this book for the past two weeks because I’m writing an Introduction for a new Barnes and Noble edition. It must have recently entered the public domain to receive this treatment. Look for it later this year!

This book can be purchased at Amazon and Kindle (which is currently $.99).

Sarah F. is a literary critic, a college professor, and an avid reader of romance -- and is thrilled that these are no longer mutually exclusive. Her academic specialization is Romantic-era British women novelists, especially Jane Austen, but she is contributing to the exciting re-visioning of academic criticism of popular romance fiction. Sarah is a contributor to the academic blog about romance, Teach Me Tonight, the winner of the 2008-2009 RWA Academic Research Grant, and the founder and President of the International Association of the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR). Sarah mainly reviews BDSM romance and gay male romance and hopes to be able to beat her TBR pile into submission when she has time to think. Sarah teaches at Fayetteville State University, NC.

46 Comments

  1. Kate Pearce
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 15:05:36

    One of my favourites, and, Georgette Heyer was only 19 when it was published!! I love how she ‘borrowed’ Tracy and made him into one of the best anti-hero’s ever, the Duke of Avon.

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  2. GrowlyCub
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 15:11:22

    I always thought Tracy had a lucky escape because I find Diana (and Jack) incredibly boring. I agree that Richard and Lavinia’s story arc is the more interesting one.

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  3. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 15:16:03

    @GrowlyCub: Yes! They’re just tedious! Although Diana shows some spirit when Jack’s being all manly and self-sacrificing.

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  4. Ros
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 15:58:32

    That Heyer’s books may now be starting to enter the public domain is one of the most exciting things I’ve heard in a long time! I like The Black Moth too, though oddly I don’t much like These Old Shades. But I adore Devil’s Cub with a passion.

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  5. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 16:40:00

    And she was only 16 when she wrote it! Talk about making just about everyone on the planet look inadequate . . .

    It can be nabbed for free from GirlieBooks (great source for stuff that’s in the public domain, like Sayer’s first two Lord Peter books):

    http://girlebooks.com/ebook-catalog/georgette-heyer/the-black-moth/

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  6. Polly
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 17:27:21

    Chalk me up as another who doesn’t really love These Old Shades. But Devil’s Cub–it was my first Heyer and oh, how I love it.

    For a long time I didn’t want to read the Black Moth, since I knew it was her first, firsts are often problematic, etc, and I was already a devoted fan of many of her books. And yeah, it has some problems, but it’s such fun! I love the madcap romps. The Talisman Ring is another that’s not as well known, not as wonderful overall, but has some moments of deep hilarity–I’ve never been able to read the phrase “ventre a terre” without thinking of it.

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  7. Jayne
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 18:03:34

    It is set in 1751, not in Regency England, but instead solidly in Georgian England, where men wore wigs, high heels, and make-up as well as the women.

    Count me in as one who adores her Georgian and Elizabethan era books more than the Regency ones.

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  8. rigmarole
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 18:04:14

    Tracy is one of my favorite characters ever. The rest of the book could be utter tripe, and I’d still reread it consistently. The fact that Lavinia and Richard are so compelling is the cherry on top for me. (And I actually don’t care much for Devil’s Cub or These Old Shades. Yeah, I can’t explain that, either.)

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  9. Maili
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 18:15:53

    For all intents and purposes, Georgette Heyer invented the historical romance, and certainly the Regency romance in its current form (which is not to say that there weren't historical romances before she was writing -’ The Scarlet Pimpernel, anyone? -’ but she solidified the conventions, the heroes, the heroines, the situations, the languages, the time period).

    Quite a claim. To be honest, you can’t have it both ways. Either she invented a genre or she’d improved on an existing and still-forming genre.

    Even so, it’s still debatable. I mean, what about – for example – Charles Garvice (or under his pen name, Caroline Hart) or the like?

    Sorry for going off the track and for failing to acknowledge the debate over the origins of the historical romance is still ongoing, so my response is pretty much useless. I just felt I have to say this because I don’t feel comfortable with this claim that Heyer invented the historical romance genre when it seems to me that she didn’t. That’s unless this can be proven, of course, which I do welcome. :D

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  10. orannia
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 18:16:46

    I don’t think I’ve ever actually read a Georgette Heyer novel… I’ve only been reading romance for four years… OK, excuses aside, I haven’t read one and it sounds like I should. At least one. I do love the sound of The Black Moth (and Tracy :)

    This book is, as Heyer's own characters would say, a mad romp.

    See, sounds perfect :) I’m sorry but I have to ask: is this a good book to start with?

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  11. Janet W
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 18:25:35

    Thank you! What an utterly delightful review: B&N readers have a treat ahead of them :)

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  12. Jennifer M
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 18:33:18

    I’m thrilled that Heyer’s books are finally coming into the public domain. These Old Shades and Devil’s Cub were among my favorite historicals ever and I’ve been hoping that e-copies would be released so I can snag them for my Kindle.

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  13. ShellBell
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 18:44:15

    These Old Shades, Arabella, Bath Tangle, and The Convenient Marriage are some of my favourite Georgette Heyer books

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  14. GrowlyCub
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 18:49:39

    @Maili:

    I’ve never heard of the author you mention and I’d lay you a bet most everybody – whether they’ve read Heyer or not – will also say they don’t know Caroline Hart.

    A fact that would argue against Hart being the originator of the genre as far as the readers are concerned. :)

    While there are readers out there who have not read Heyer, many have and they do recognize that the many copycat authors (who also read her) are copying her prose and style and not somebody else’s.

    Was she perfect, did she get it right all the time, is she responsible for some glaring historical errors considered canon by Regency lovers? No, no and most definitely, but I’m convinced you will not hear any other name but hers as the most significant influence on later Regency writers. Or those of authors who are indebted to her for their careers.

    Sounds mighty impassioned on my part I admit, although I really don’t feel that strongly about it. There’s an evening’s paradox for you.

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  15. becca
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 19:05:41

    @11 – I think it’s Harlequin that’s been republishing them in trade format for the last several months, with some lovely (though not always period) paintings as covers.

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  16. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 19:26:09

    @Jennifer M: The link above is to a Kindle version, apparently.

    @becca: Harlequin and Sourcebooks. They’re sort of dueling, actually, with some books actually out w/ both publishers. All trade paperback size and all so pretty (but yes, covers not entirely accurate! Especially for the Georgian romances).

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  17. Maili
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 19:55:53

    @GrowlyCub:
    Just because some haven’t heard of certain writers today doesn’t mean it’d invalidate those writers’ right to have their significant contributions recognised.

    I mean, it seems you’re saying that people, especially women, who were purposely left out of current history books and papers should stay ignored and forgotten. This is something I can’t agree with. Thankfully, there’s a growing number of literary historians bringing forgotten influential authors out into the open. This will certainly help us to have a better and clearer picture of some timelines and heritages.

    Anyway, Charles Garvice was quite popular in his time, especially in the U.S. Jesus, there’s even a place in London named after him! :D

    I didn’t say anything about errors in Heyer’s books in my previous response, so I won’t go there. :)

    (Again, Sarah, sorry! Will shut up now.)

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  18. Janet W
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 20:26:32

    To whomever asked should she start with The Black Moth — I wouldn’t. It’s an amazing book and that a teen wrote it is incredible but it’s nowhere near her best.

    Maili, how can we learn about authors like Heyer that we are indebted to for the books we now enjoy? And would knowing more about them lessen our (OK, my) enjoyment of Heyer? I’m not a good person to ask probably because I wear Heyer blinders … I’m really looking forward to the upcoming biography: for someone so popular, we really don’t know a lot about her.

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  19. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 20:29:55

    @Janet W: I’ve met Jen Kloester and heard her research. That biography is going to be AMAZING!!! Can NOT wait!

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  20. Susan/DC
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 20:53:15

    I loved The Black Moth but not These Old Shades. Even if Tracy has morphed into Justin, I did not care for Leonie (the heroine of TOS) so did not care for the love story at its heart.

    As for whether to begin with TBM, I think it’s actually a pretty good introduction to Heyer. All the right components are there: high spirits, energy, drama, action, and romance. Even if Heyer is not yet completely master of her craft, it is a fun place to enter her Georgian/Regency world.

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  21. Maili
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 22:07:43

    @Janet W:
    Sorry? I’m afraid you lost me.

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  22. A
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 22:20:36

    This is actually my least favorite Heyer. Keeping in mind the style is very suited to the style popular in the book’s era, I found the plot hollow and contrived and the characters lacking in depth. Not the worst book I ever read, but definitely not memorable.

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  23. Janet W
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 22:58:04

    @maili … agreed. I lost myself. I “think” what I was trying to say … very badly … was that if there are other authors that deserve the recognition that only Heyer seems to be receiving, well, how do we hear about them?

    I know: I’ll ask my mum … she turns 80 this summer and maybe she’ll know :)

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  24. Kaetrin
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 01:11:00

    I haven’t read any Heyer (yet).

    Sorry, this is probably a dense question but when you said that Tracy turns into Justin – is it the same character using a different name (for some reason that is, presumably, explained in the story) or is it that the character is very similar? I’m confused – although I’d probably understand it if I’d read one of the books…

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  25. Kaetrin
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 01:12:06

    Also (and COMPLETELY off topic), how does one get one’s pic/avatar in the photo bit to the left?

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  26. dri
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 01:36:26

    Oh man. I spent a healthy part of last year reading almost every one of Heyer’s Regencies and fell so much in love with every aspect of her writing, from her use of semi-colons to her various kinds of heroines to the sheer awesomeness of her dialogue. The Black Moth was one of the few I stayed away from just because that time period really doesn’t do anything for me. And because I vastly adore Devil’s Cub compared to the ickiness of These Old Shades and that supremely annoying Leonie.

    And SarahF, you’ve totally made me want to re-read all my Heyers even though they’re about a two and a half hour drive away from me. *lol*

    May I submit Frederica as the one to start with for a newbie? Or Cotillion. Because really that’s Heyer at the top of her game.

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  27. GrowlyCub
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 06:09:24

    It’s so entirely fascinating that even when we agree on how wonderful an author is, we disagree on which of her works are her best.

    I’d *never* start anybody out with Cotillion nor Frederica. I recently listened to them on audio and while Frederica is okay, the audio really crystallized why I disliked Cotillion from the start (even though it has a couple of great moments in it, the whole just makes me angry).

    I generally don’t like the ‘mad romp’ ones all that much. My favs are These Old Shades, Venetia, Devil’s Cub, The Convenient Marriage, April Lady and Black Sheep.

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  28. Ros
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 06:41:28

    Where you should start depends on what you like. I’d say Venetia is perhaps the purest romance, and has the most wonderful rakish hero. Devil’s Cub for bad-boy won over by the love of a good woman. The Grand Sophy for comedy that never quite descends too far into farce. A Civil Contract for a very unromantic view of romance. Black Sheep for an older heroine. Friday’s Child for a much younger one.

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  29. Ros
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 06:44:54

    @GrowlyCub: I tend to agree about both Cotillion and Frederica. I do like them and have recently re-read Cotillion. I’m always surprised how many people seem to like Freddy so much. He’s sweet, but he’s not nearly as sexy as, well, lots of Heyer’s other heroes. It’s a while since I’ve read Frederica, but I do remember that her persistent, wilfil ignorance of her own feelings and Alverstoke’s felt quite forced. And there are several very irritating secondary characters in that one.

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  30. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 07:38:01

    @Kaetrin: You go to Gravatar and load a picture there. It’ll show up on DA and SBTB that I know of, at least. I’m sure elsewhere, too.

    As for your other question, it’s obvious to anyone who’s read The Black Moth that Justin in These Old Shades is a rewrite of Tracy, but Heyer has changed things, the characters are not exactly the same. In fact, The Black Moth is called that because Tracy only dresses in black in an age in which men wore brightly colored suits of satin and silk. But in TOS, Justin’s clothes are MORE brilliantly colored, more elaborately decorated than anyone else. So, that’s a change. But the relationships between the characters in TBM have changed slightly in TOS and siblings have been combined or added as needed. All the names have changed, but their core characters remain the same in all but one case (Richard–>Edward, but he’s very secondary to TOS).

    As for suggestions on where to start: Arabella for pure fun and a lovely romance, Sylvester for a meta-romance about a Gothic author, but I’d go with Venetia or Regency Buck as well. I don’t think there’s a *bad* place to start, except with her historically heavy books like An Infamous Army.

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  31. Marianne McA
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 08:20:14

    I love Heyer, but I do think there are bad places to start.
    I never reread The Conqueror, Royal Escape or My Lord John, and haven’t reread Simon the Coldheart or Beauvallet in years.
    I’d say Powder and Patch reads like an early book. Same with The Masqueraders (though that’s the one I started with as a child. Love ever since.)
    I’ve some reservations about Cousin Kate. A Civil Contract: the older I get, the more I love this book, but it’s bittersweet.
    I have always really liked Spanish Bride and An Infamous Army, but as Sarah said there’s a lot of history in them (Spanish Bride being a fictionalised account of a real marriage) – so it would depend how interesting you found Wellington’s campaigns.
    I wouldn’t recommend Regency Buck as a good place to start, but that’s a personal taste thing – it’s shelved in my head with Bath Tangle in the ‘good Heyer books featuring couples I can’t warm to’ subsection.

    I’d probably recommend a romance reader start with Venetia, or Arabella – but also The Grand Sophy, or Friday’s Child or April Lady (I’m secretly disagreeing with GrowlyCub: I think April Lady is a romp – more farce than romance).

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  32. Janet W
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 08:51:29

    Isn’t it great that there’s a Heyer for every taste! I would disagree that April Lady is a romp — oh it is (the sturdy footman struggling with the diamond chipped jewel case is forever etched on my mind) but it’s sad too: a marriage is careening to disaster — perhaps the romp aspect is the cupids haha that save the day. One of my faves!

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  33. Polly
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 08:58:23

    There’s definitely a bad place to start with Heyer, though what that bad place is probably varies person by person. I’d say to stay away from the Very Important History ones (Spanish Marriage, An Infamous Army), the medieval/Elizabethan ones (Simon the Coldheart, My Lord John, Beauvallet), and the weirder ones (Cousin Kate, for ex). I’d recommend the funny ones, but then, those are the ones that I like best. Some people don’t care for the funnies at all, and much prefer the heavier ones.

    I’d recommend starting with Devil’s Cub, The Grand Sophy, Friday’s Child, or Sylvester. All of them are, line by line, some of the funniest of the Heyer oevre, at least to me. They also have some of the best and most developed relationships between the main characters. My secondary recommendations are for The Convenient Marriage and The Corinthian (secondary because both have very young women with much older men, and it’s bothered some of the people I recommended them to–the ones I mentioned above all have couples with much less age difference).

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  34. Madeleine Conway
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 09:00:38

    For me, Georgette Heyer is a successor of Walter Scott and also, Anthony Hope. I hadn’t realised that she was also writing alongside Raphael Sabatini who is another favourite author in the more swashbuckling line. I love me a good swash of the buckle.

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  35. GrowlyCub
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 09:12:40

    @Marianne McA: You are allowed to disagree openly. I only bite on Tuesdays. :)

    Romps to me are books like ‘The Masqueraders’, ‘The Unknown Ajax’ or ‘The Tollgate’, etc. where there’s a lot of outside action (and which are the Heyers I like the least).

    ‘April Lady’ to me is much more about the internal thoughts and feelings of the main characters. True, there are farcical elements, but the emotional aspects overwhelm them for me (in a good way).

    ETA: Which is also true for another one of my favs: ‘The Convenient Marriage’ and both also happen to have much younger heroines to older heroes.

    ‘A Civil Contract’ used to be on my top 5 fav Heyer list, but after listening to it on audio, I just can’t overlook the ‘revulsion’ Adam expresses to himself any more. To a degree it’s the descriptions of Jenny and also of Freddy in ‘Cotillion’ which you cannot avoid when listening and which really set these two up to be totally not hero/ine material. I’d have to say Heyer was a bit too successful in that. I guess I’ve been able to ‘overread’ that in my frequent re-reads, but in audio there’s just no escaping it.

    I used to really like ‘Regency Buck’ and again after listening to it on audio, I’m not sure why I ever did.

    There’s a curious trend here, because even though I enjoyed listening to the audio versions (and didn’t any have major issues with the narrators like with so many other audio versions I’ve attempted to listen to) almost all of them have sunken on my internal favorites list (except ‘April Lady’).

    I haven’t quite figure out whether or not it’s a good thing that my favs are not available to me on audio. :)

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  36. Ros
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 09:39:56

    I’ve been thinking a bit more about the ‘Did Heyer invent the genre?’ question and a number of things occur to me.

    First, she’s usually only credited with inventing the genre of Regency romance. A lot of Heyer’s books do not fall into this genre. Most of the ones that are similar to, for example, The Scarlet Pimpernel, are not actually Regency romances. It was fascinating at the recent Heyer day to see the ways in which Heyer’s novels have been marketed over the years. Even Regency Buck was initially published as something more like an action/adventure novel rather than a straight romance. It’s absolutely clear that not everything Heyer wrote was in a completely new genre. She stood on a lot of people’s shoulders.

    Second, her ongoing influence has been enormous. Almost every writer of Regency romances that I can think of cites Heyer as an influence, one way or another. Which is not the same as saying that she invented the genre, but it’s clear that her work did in some sense define that genre in a lasting way. While there may have been books similar to hers published previously, I don’t think (though I could be wrong on this) they were ever grouped together by publishers, booksellers or readers as a distinct genre, in the way that they have been since Heyer. That’s a pretty significant accomplishment.

    And third, there are innovations that she did make in the genre of Regency romance that I think are unquestioned. Her language and the world she conjures are not historically-accurate-warts-and-all Regency. They are Heyer Regency. Which is not to deny her undoubted historical knowledge and acuity. But the case of the Cheltenham tragedy plagiarism indicates just how much of Heyer’s voice and style was her own.

    So, yes, it’s always more complicated. I wouldn’t say genres are ever ‘invented’, really. They always emerge out of existing forms, and putting one’s finger on the moment when a new genre becomes distinct is a tricky business. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that Heyer had a significant impact in establishing this genre in a new way.

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  37. Joan/SarahF
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 09:43:08

    @Ros: “Cheltenham tragedy plagiarism”? Not aware of what you’re referencing…

    ETA: And a resounding “yes!” to everything else you said. :)

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  38. Polly
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 09:51:34

    The Cheltenham tragedy thing, if I remember correctly, is that she found the phrase somewhere, used it, and everyone else started to as well. But it’s not really a common term, and no one’s sure where she got it from.

    Ditto with “make a cake of oneself.” Heyer found that one in a private letter, used it, and everyone else borrowed it from her. It’s not a common period expression, but because of Heyer, within the world of regency romance, it’s all over the place. If I remember correctly, it was one of the ways she ended up being able to track who was and wasn’t reading (and borrowing) from her.

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  39. Ros
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 10:12:05

    @Polly: Yes, though I think ‘Cheltenham tragedy’ was one she actually invented herself, and then sued another author who copied the expression.

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  40. orannia
    Jan 19, 2010 @ 15:00:23

    Thank you for all the suggestions. My piece of paper is now covered in titles :) I might see what the various synopses are and pick the one I like the most to start with. Such a big back catalogue to work my way through *grin*

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  41. Kaetrin
    Jan 22, 2010 @ 17:46:15

    @ Joan/Sarah F
    Thanks so much for explaining about Gravatar and about Justin/Tracy.

    @GrowlyCub
    I started listening to Regency Buck on audiobook but got bored – I’m not sure if it was the narrator or the story itself – do you think her books don’t translate well to audio or is it something else?

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  42. Dave
    May 26, 2010 @ 10:53:36

    Certain Heyer books, like “Cotillion” and “The Foundling” and to a lesser extent “The Talisman Ring,” could be considered self-parodies and as such may not be a great starting point. But I happen to like them for just that reason. In each case the dashing and beautiful characters are decoys, often relegated to foolish or minor roles while less attractive protagonists carry the action.

    “The Grand Sophie” is a good starter, and so is “Regency Buck.” I’d also weigh in against the audio book option, because the dialog wasn’t written for recitation. Later books like “A Lady of Quality” or “Faro’s Daughter” are less florid and would probably work better for audio, but they also more closely resemble Heyer’s unworthy successors in the genre.

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  43. Dave
    May 26, 2010 @ 10:53:52

    Certain Heyer books, like “Cotillion” and “The Foundling” and to a lesser extent “The Talisman Ring,” could be considered self-parodies and as such may not be a great starting point. But I happen to like them for just that reason. In each case the dashing and beautiful characters are decoys, often relegated to foolish or minor roles while less attractive protagonists carry the action.

    “The Grand Sophy” is a good starter, and so is “Regency Buck.” I’d also weigh in against the audio book option, because the dialog wasn’t written for recitation. Later books like “A Lady of Quality” or “Faro’s Daughter” are less florid and would probably work better for audio, but they also more closely resemble Heyer’s unworthy successors in the genre.

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  44. REVIEW: Early Georgette Heyer series
    Mar 18, 2012 @ 13:16:08

    [...] series “starts” (sort of) with The Black Moth, which I’ve already reviewed here at Dear Author. This is Heyer’s first book, written when she was 19 (and doesn’t [...]

  45. susan fordd
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:47:41

    Heyer was my first author read as a series at way too early an age. From my young perspective there was a clear distinction between her histories, comedies, and mysteries. For your first Heyer – pick the type you like best. Wait! I sould divide mysteries into the gothic “Anna Seton” style and the “Thin Man” comedy of manner style. I do think that even simply by virtue of number and consistancy of books, Heyer is at very least the Master, if not the creator, of Regency romance.

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  46. jane henry
    Dec 02, 2013 @ 13:13:56

    I read my first ever Heyer when I was 13 years old. I was caught reading a Mills and Boon at the back of the class and sent to the headmistresses office. It was just before the summer break. She told me off then gave me two books to read I forget the title of the first, but the other was Devils Cub. I was absolutely blown away, I loved everything about it and couldn’t wait to read more. I was practically camped out at the local library for years after that. There’s very few of her novels I don’t like and I’ve read all her romances and historical novels. It’s the humour that gets me, Faros Daughter springs to mind, the Black Sheep, Arabella, Frederica. Who doesn’t turn all mushy when they read Venetia or a Spanish Bride. I’m really excited that this work will soon come into the public domain. I’d love to see someone tackle this on the screen.

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