Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Respectable Romance: Arabella by Georgette Heyer

Ah, good even to you, my fair readers (if there are any of you out there at all). Well, it's been a while (when isn't it a while?). I've been off having some wonderful adventures, and although not all of them have been reading-related, many of them have been.

One of the really good adventures I've had recently was a resurgence of my romantic spirit. Not many people will admit to reading romance, since it isn't considered "high" literature, but pooh sayeth I to such silliness. A book is a book, is a book, is a book. No writing is bad writing, unless it is poor writing. There are just as many "bad" and "poor" intelligent reads out there, as there are "bad" or "poor" so-called Low Culture reads. I make an effort to try not to classify books into value-laden categories. I find that it says more about an individual when they class books into "high" and "low" categories, and much less about the book, the quality of writing, and the author.

Having said all this, and I
do sincerely apologize for digressing, I am super excited to share with you, oh wonderful readers, my discovery of a truly talented writer, Georgette Heyer.

Oftentimes, one finds much to be lacking in the romance genre. It appears that everything is slash and grab, or in other words unconcerned with the subtleties of human nature. I don't like to be told what I already know in a story. Moreover, I am not a stupid reader, and can usually pick up on hints. This is something that I feel many romance authors forget, although not all are guilty of doing so.

Georgette Heyer was one such author who allowed her story to tell itself for the most part. And I am now planning to sacrifice myself to her writing as often as I can.

Arabella is a simple story detailing the debut of said lady in Regency London. Without giving too much away, she has the tendency to run away with her temper, and this lands her in a bit of hot water, when poor, penniless she is unaccountably considered a wealthy heiress by society, and finds herself the object of many a penniless suitor. How and why this happens is related to her encounter with one of society's highest of the high trendsetters.

As I've already stated elsewhere, Dame Heyer is like a breath of fresh air in the romance genre. There is subtlety in her descriptions, and storyline. Things don't crash and burn. Her characters are realistic. They are not run over by their vices
or their virtues. They do not bear with things that are not meant to be borne with, and yet they do not labor to do that which is absurd.

Conversations between characters are realistic. Relations are not forced. The setting is realistic. What can I say, dear readers? Characters do not merely play at being Regency era ladies and gentlemen while maintaining 21st century ideals and attitudes.

The narrative is neither slow, nor fast. Rather, events occur at a regular, even pace, as they ought to. All in all, Georgette Heyer makes it
very easy and enjoyable to delve into her created world, and it provides a beautiful and relaxing escape.

For myself, I am astonished that I never came across her Regency novels before this, and am eagerly awaiting my next trip to Regency London through the guidance of her prose. You'll find my recommendations below.

To begin, this book is
NOT for anyone who...:

  • despises novels of the romance genre
  • wants to sink their teeth into something dense and heavy
  • can't stand reading about silly Regency era traditions
  • doesn't believe in love
However, this book IS for anyone who...:
  • is looking for an intelligent romantic read (yes, even I was surprised that such a thing exists!)
  • has read and enjoyed reading Jane Austen's novels (although this is a much better cure for Austenitis than Eliot's Middlemarch, Heyer's' writing style is a little different from Jane's)
  • enjoys a light, but emotionally satisfying read
  • does believe in love
Happy reading everyone!