GEORGETTE HEYER by Jennifer Kloester


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A detailed, yet sometimes-plodding study of the life and work of Georgette Heyer (1902–1974), the best-selling British Regency romance writer.

Kloester (Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, 2005) spent 10 years researching this book, which draws from "new and untapped archives of [Heyer's] letters,” as well as the author's notebooks and other private papers. The result is a carefully crafted, narrowly focused biography that concentrates on Heyer and her novels to the near exclusion of the times in which she was writing. The woman whom the Daily Telegraph called the "20th Century Jane Austen” was "born an Edwardian.” But Kloester points out that Heyer's upper-middle-class world and many of the traditions that informed it—“servants, horses and carriages, good manners, correct speech, the right clothing and a certain level of education and cultural literacy”—were products of the English Regency. Encouraged from an early age by her literature-loving father to read widely and write, Heyer produced her first novel when she was just 17. However, it would be more than 20 years before she would focus exclusively on the Regency romances for which she is best remembered. Until that time, she dabbled in historical, contemporary and detective fiction writing and experienced modest, but steadily increasing, success with each novel she published. After her father died in 1925, Heyer supported her mother and two brothers on her literary earnings. Until her husband could practice as an attorney, she had to support her own household as well, factors that Kloester believes contributed to her all-consuming drive to write. Heyer produced more than 50 novels in her lifetime, in addition to numerous short stories. Unable to see her work as being on par with "serious" writers, she would assert that her books sold because they were historical romances "that [didn't] date.” But as Kloester observes, the literary legacy Heyer could not fully own still "endures.”

Meticulously researched, but with limited audience appeal.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4022-7175-5
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2012


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