I know we have a lot of fans of the great Georgette Heyer here…
And we have, in the past, discussed what our favorite Georgette Heyer novels are…
As well as our favorite types of Heyer novels.
And our favorite Heyer covers.
(It is a subject I love to talk about! Heyer, that is. And covers. And Heyer covers.)
But a loop I’m on recently started discussing a slightly different question…
What was the first Heyer you ever read?
Do you remember?
What did you think of it?
Did it make you a lifelong Heyer fan?
Do you also remember the next couple of Heyers you read?
My first was THESE OLD SHADES.
My freshman roommate/friend/etc Heather, who was trying to convert me both to Regency Romances and to the romance genre in general (or to at least open my mind to them, snob that I was), started me with THESE OLD SHADES because (if I recall correctly) she liked it a lot, and also thought there was enough non-romance stuff going on that a non-romance reader (as I was then) would be lured in, until the romance bug bit.
My next two Heyers, in some order, were VENETIA and THE UNKNOWN AJAX. (Yes, the inimitable Heather has very good taste.)
Those three Heyers are still among my favorites.
So, how about you?
What was your first Heyer? Did it win you over? Do you wish you’d started with a different one?
All answers welcome!
Cara King, author of MY LADY GAMESTER, and fan of the band Genesis (both the Peter and Phil eras), who’s going to see them in concert on Saturday!
Oh, Cara! A subject dear to my heart. I was about 12 and my first Heyer was Friday’s Child, which is perfect for that young age, I think. I went around quoting “Hang George!” and other witticisms for days afterwards. I read These Old Shades not much later, and I remember having a bit of the ick factor when I discovered the Duke (a man I’d pictured as a grandfather figure*g*) ended up marrying Leonie. I’d been thinking her a young girl like myself, so I became a little confused. But I still went on to read and love her other books. As a friend of mine says “All the best people love Heyer”.
Good question! My first was Devil’s Cub and it made me into a lifelong devotee of La Heyer. I adored it. I was about 14 and it was the first time I’d come across the Rake meets Sensible Resourceful Woman storyline. Up until then the only romances I’d read were rather uninspiring category romances so this was a revelation. My next was Friday’s Child which I also adored – and I agree with Christine – this is definitely a young girl’s novel. I can’t remember what came after that. I literally devoured every Heyer my library stocked one by one.
I could not tell you which is my favourite Heyer, although when I decided to review just one of them on my blog, I found myself choosing An Infamous Army, a book I suspect I would not have enjoyed much as a younger reader. What an incredibly versatile writer Georgette Heyer was.
*blush* I may be shot admitting this, but I’ve never read a GH book. I’m going to enjoy reading the comments to see what I’ve been missing.
Andreaw, get thee to a bookstore posthaste!!! You will love it, trust me. Friday’s Child did it for me as well. I think The Grand Sophie was next, but I am not sure. My favorite? The Quiet Gentleman. The humor in it is so subtle at times and so cute. One of my MOST treasured comments from a contest judge? “Reads like a Georgette Heyer novel.” I have this comment lifted from the judge’s sheet, blown up and framed on my writing studio wall. It literally brought tears to my eyes to read it. I don’t necessarily believe it! LOL But it is something I fully intend to strive toward.
I may be shot admitting this, but I’ve never read a GH book.
Not shot, Andrea…but perhaps converted! 🙂
So, all, what book should Andrea start with??? Important question here…a lifelong fan hangs in the balance…
Andrea, I think I’d suggest FRIDAY’S CHILD, if you like lots of comedy (some of it a bit farcical)…
Or maybe FARO’S DAUGHTER. Or THE UNKNOWN AJAX. Or if you want a nice classic rake story, one that influenced countless that followed, VENETIA…
What does everyone else think Andrea should start with? 🙂
I think VENETIA is a good one to start with. I also love FREDERICA. SYLVESTER has the humor but also some of the deepest characterisations.
To answer the original question…I don’t remember!!!!What does it say about me, that I don’t remember my First??? All I can say is I started in 3rd grade (and I’m not telling when that was).
Either FRIDAY’S CHILD or VENETIA are excellent choices. I had forgotten about SYLVESTER. Now I have to go scrambling thru my bookshelves to find it. I really enjoyed it!
My first was “Regency Buck” which I read when I was about 16. It was a gift from my aunts who lived in Bath and were nuts about anything Georgian.
I then proceeded to read every Heyer I could lay my hands on, and then stopped. I haven’t read her again and I don’t know whether I want to; same goes for Hemingway, who I discovered around the same time.
But I do love those old covers–they are so elegant!
These Old Shades was my first Georgette Heyer and The Devil’s Cub my second. Barbara Cartland hooked me on to romance novels and La Heyer on to Regency-set historicals. It’s not just nostalgia, but I still love to pick up one of their book to re-read.
My first was Friday’s Child and Frederica; I found them in my parents’ library when I had run out of Barbara Cartlands.
I read and re-read them continuously. Not now, but in the past. If I get sick or something I might just grab one of those off the shelf for a good old comfort read.
If you prefer something light, I’d recommend starting with The Grand Sophy – it moves quickly and has lots of action as well as one of her best heroines. If you want something more bittersweet, perhaps A Civil Contract.
I still only have read one, so easy question. 😉 The Grand Sophie. And I truly was surprised, because here was this incredibly strong heroine that did a whole lot of stuff that I would assume of a heroine for today, but it was written in the 50s. Just blew me away. LOL I still want to go for more (the funnier ones first) but when I have to limit how many books I can get, the new ones and new authors have to come first. But I imagine she’ll always be easy to find. 🙂
Gosh, I can’t remember which Heyer was my first, and I came late to the party. I only read Heyer after I started writing and my friends, Helen and Julie, talked about her as if everyone should know who she was. I didn’t and I’d been an English major concentrating on British literature (never read Faulkner, for example).
I listened to Heyer on audio books, mostly, and I highly recommend it, if there is a good British reader.
I think These Old Shades might have been the first, but is definitely not my favorite. I had that same “ick” factor, Christine, and I was an adult lady! I also am not a fan of A Civil Contract, but I loved loved loved Venetia, Friday’s Child, Fredericka, The Quiet Gentleman, Sprigged Muslin.
Good choices, Diane. The Quiet Gentleman, as I said, is a gem. A Southern girl like myself cannot let you go without recommending that you read The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. It is the perfect example of what a peerage or ton family would be in the Deep South. In fact, Faulkner was called “Count NoAccount” in his home town of Oxford because he came from one of those old southern aristocratic families with very little regard for the opinion of the “unwashed” masses. LOL
Hope I don’t have to duck and run for cover, because although I read a few when younger (The Toll Gate, Sylvester, one I can’t remember) when I try to read Heyer now, I feel claustrophobic, as if there’s no air in her world.
Books on tape is an excellent idea. I’ll bet listening to them by a British reader would help. I’m intrigued by the plot set-up of Venetia, so perhaps I’ll try that one.
*Jane, slinking off*
My mother introduced me to Heyer when I was in my early teens, but I don’t remember which was my first. I do remember liking the ones with “older” (meaning in their 20s) heroines best: “The Talisman Ring”, “Venetia”, “Black Sheep” (has a great “meet cute” scene). “Fredericka”. I also prefer the older style covers shown in the column to the ones where the heroines had hair and a look that was more appropriate to the 1960s than the Regency (there’s an example of this in the column too). I also adored “Sylvester” because the hero’s character arc is so dramatic and appealing (his scenes at the beginning and the end when he talks to his mother about love are quite telling bookends).
How did I forget ARABELLA? It’s the quintessential London Season story. A shame there have been too many knock-offs but that doesn’t diminish its appeal, for me anyway.
It was so long ago, but I think it was one of my favorites, Fredericka. I loved Venetia and Arabella, too.
you know, I think I read Arabella first. Long time ago.
I love the Barbosa art covers, the original covers. They are totally wonderful. I always thought the traditional Regencies ought to have mimicked those covers. I’ll be that would have helped sales.
Oh, oh, oh! When I was 13 I read The Masqueraders. It was my first Heyer, my first romance, and it is still my very favorite in either category. I know I’ve said this before in other forums, but that scene where Sir Anthony pulls Prudence’s arm down and the wine drip, drip, drips on the carpet just–undoes me. Every time. Like the drop on a roller coaster. No wonder I was immediately addicted.
I so enjoy the two intertwined love stories and the fact that Prudence and Robin are “unconventional-looking” siblings–Prudence tall and Robin short. Sir Anthony had me at hello. And Robert Tremaine, the father, is unforgettable.
Since some of us are confessing “never-reads” I must tell you that I have never read a Dickens all the way through (so embarrassing for an English major). However, I have just started listening to Oliver Twist on audiobook and am enjoying it TREMENDOUSLY. Soon I will be a Dickens virgin no more!
Cara, you should know perfectly well what my first Heyer was, since you gave it to me: Friday’s Child. A fact that I apparently share with quite a few others, based on the comments so far. 🙂 My second was a bit less conventional: Cotillion.
After that, I don’t remember the exact order, but I know I read all of the following pretty early on: Venetia, Frederica, Black Sheep, and These Old Shades. And many more have followed since. 🙂
I don’t really have a single favorite, but I remain very fond of all of the above, and a few others I’ve read since then: The Unknown Ajax, The Grand Sophy, and Faro’s Daughter.
BTW, I once mentioned Heyer on a mailing list devoted to Patrick O’Brian (whose work I also love), and received a politely incredulous reply that I could possibly mention Heyer in the same breath as O’Brian. To which I say: bloody snobs. 🙂 Some people will look down their noses at anything labeled “romance.”
Thanks for the GH suggestions, everyone! I’m writing them down for the next time I head to the library. 🙂
Todd, you sure have guts!!! And I’ve laughed so hard over your comment, I’m having to type with a stitch in my side.