Wednesday, December 5, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Heyer Society. Essays on the Literary Genius of Georgette Heyer edited by Rachel Hyland

I received this book for free from Netgalley. This did not influence my review.

I love Georgette Heyer. I’ve mostly read her Regency Romances with a quick foray into her historical mysteries. While some are more engaging than others, they are all pretty wonderful. When I saw Heyer Society: Essays on the Literary Genius of Georgette Heyer, edited by Rachel Hyland, available for review, I was intrigued. I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe literary criticism? Maybe quirky biographical sketches?

In fact, it is just what the title describes: essays about Georgette Heyer. The contributors are a number of authors in different genres united in their love for Heyer’s work. The essays are not dry literary critiques, but rather explorations of different facets of her contributions to literature, particularly Regency Romance, but also her influence on other Romance genres as well as science fiction and detective fiction. Chapters discuss such things as Heyer in film (why haven’t more of her works been made into movies?), the role of cousins in her novels (not only the rather icky question of why so many cousins marry each other, but also the larger importance of cousins in Regency Era society), and what to do with the enormous stumbling block of privilege portrayed in Heyer’s worlds (can we enjoy these very non-diverse books today without guilt?).

Written by Heyer superfans, the chapters are enthusiastic, glowing, and fun to read. References to novels I’ve read reminded me of the delightful stories and made me want to re-read. And references to the novels I haven’t gotten to yet have made me even more eager to make time to read them.

This book can be enjoyed by anyone interested in Georgette Heyer, whether you are a die-hard fan, have only dipped a toe in the ocean of her novels, or have not yet read her but are debating where to start.