[DWJ] Pedantry Postal Course

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Fri May 11 11:17:08 EDT 2007

>Beck enquired:
>> It was called 'Charity
>> Girl', and I didn't get much out of it, I have to say. Was it an
>> unlucky choice, or is Georgette not for me?

and Philip replied:

>Not one of her best, I would say, but not an awful one that I'd expect
>to put an unsuspecting newbie right off!

Whenever the Heyer list discuss that one it tends to be criticised a
great deal.  It lacks the fizz of her best work.  I think it was said
that she was ill when she wrote it, and it shows.  The only really good
thing about it by Heyer standards is that the awful old father-figure
isn't really awful in the long run, which is refreshing.

>If you can bear to try another, have a go at Venetia, False Colours, The
>Grand Sophy or The Toll Gate.   Or possibly Bath Tangle or Arabella or
>Cotillion or The Quiet Gentleman... Everybody will have a different
>favourite, I think, but all those I've listed are ones I'd recommend or
>ones I've heard recommended.

Venetia for the quotations, at least; False Colours if you don't mind
kleptomanic mothers who flutter like a butterfly; The Grand Sophy if you
are not hypersensitive about anti-semitism (it has a stereotype Jewish
moneylender as a very minor walk-on part and the Heyer list always get
sidetracked by his existence); The Toll-Gate has a very fine highwayman;
Bath Tangle has one of my favourite heroines, though many people find
her a bossy overbearing horror; Arabella has the best dog (I think,
though some would say the best dog is in Frederica); Cottilion has the
best hero, as far as I am concerned, AND the best father; The Quiet
Gentleman has a *wonderful* heroine...

>Ones to avoid are the mediaeval ones (The Conqueror, Simon the
>Coldheart, My Lord John), 

My Lord John is a tragic example of somebody simply not being able to do 
the thing they've set their heart on.  She cannot write the period.  She 
tries, by using all the language, but since she completely ignores the 
existence of religion she completely misses the feel of the time.  It 
was to be her "Great Work", but she must have realised it was bad, 
because she neither finished it nor offered it to anyone for publication 
during her lifetime, having worked on it on-and-off for thirty years and 

>Royal Escape,

Is dull, Dull, DULL and one would be better off reading a non-fantasised 
account of Charles II's escape after the oak tree.

>Cousin Kate, 

Is a failed Gothick, though it has fine funny moments.

>Regency Buck.  

Has a completely awful hero and heroine, and far too much "instant guide 
to the Regency period" in infodump chunks: it was the first book she set 
in that period and she was determined we should all know all about it.

>that I am saying that any of them is bad (The Conqueror is one of my
>favourites), just that they're not good introductions to Heyer.

I'd add that the earlier works are less immediately endearing: Powder
and Patch is, well, early, and so is The Masqueraders and so is The
Black Moth.  She improved as she learnt her trade.

Oh, and The Spanish Bride and An Infamous Army have a lot of actual 
Napoleonic campaigning in them, all from proper research, and aren't 
typical Heyer either.

>I'm sure others will have their own suggestions, but this is a start...

Frederica is often a favourite and suggested as a first read when this
comes up on the Heyer list, and I would most certainly say Frederica is
worth a read, maybe even as a first read, because I find it one of her
funniest, but tastes vary so much between people that it's hard to know
which to suggest as a first read for anyone.  I fear that Charity Girl
doesn't usually get mentioned in this context, though, so perhaps it
would be worth your trying another.


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