Saturday, 25 September 2010

CHARITY GIRL By Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer is an author of historical romances, usually set in the Regency period. Her novels are comic and well-plotted, and remind one for obvious reasons of Jane Austen. They don't remind one too much however, as Austen is a great writer, while poor Heyer is more in the trying hard department. But! She's charming and fun, and I loved her when I was in my early teens, so I was quite pleased to find her in another camping site's book exchange.

It was a tiny bit of a letdown. It's still funny and sweet, but I'm afraid my 33 year old self can see that it's also horribly overwritten, and rather cynically plotted. Also, I don't think anybody in any period speaks with quite as much period detail as her characters do. For example: I should like to know ma'am, what the dev – deuce – you mean by setting the servants to spy on me? By God, I think it beats the Dutch! I'll say what I dashed well choose” etc etc and etc.

She was on the best-seller lists consistently from when she was seventeen though, for which I give her mad props. Note that CHARITY GIRL was first published in 1970, and my copy is the ninth edition, published 1981 (charmingly, it's price was £1.50)

Apprently she was quite contemptuous of what she did, which I find rather sad. In 1943, speaking of a new novel of hers she said: "Spread the glad tidings that it will not disappoint Miss Heyer's many admirers. Judging from the letters I've received from obviously feeble-minded persons who do so wish I would write another These Old Shades, it ought to sell like hot cakes. I think myself I ought to be shot for writing such nonsense, but it's questionably good escapist literature and I think I should rather like it if I were sitting in an air-raid shelter, or recovering from flu. Its period detail is good; my husband says it's witty---and without going to these lengths, I will say that it is very good fun." More here.

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