‘Chekov’s Three Sisters Would Have Got To Moscow’. Notes on Georgette Heyer

The Tedettes Jane Austen Book Club are now engrossed in the novels of the Queen of Regency Romance, Georgette Heyer. They have learned more about their heroine from Jane Aiken Hodges biography. It’s called The Private World of Georgette Heyer (Quotes from the Chivers 1984 edition).

Hodge’s Foreword: “She was .. an immensely skilled and meticulous craftswoman. She did her best to conceal her high standards and stern moral code behind the mask of romantic comedy.”

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Engrossed in the regency novels of Georgette Heyer

Plots and technique

(From Hodges, Chapter 2). Heyer once said, “My plots are abysmal and I think of them with blood and tears”. Her family confirm she did indeed work at her plots with blood and tears .. plunged in black gloom when things went badly, prowling restlessly about the house until she had her plan worked out, when she would sit down and write … at high speed, often late into the night. Heyer said of her own work in one letter to her publisher:

“ … The Unknown Ajax and Venetia are the best of my later works. My style is really a mixture of Johnson and Austen – what I rely on is a certain gift for the farcial … I know its useless to talk about technique in these degenerate days – but no less a technician than Noel Coward reads me because he thinks my technique is so good. I’m proud of that.”

(From Chapter 8) She kept a single fan letter, received in 1963 from former political prisoner in Romania. The writer spoke of how she had read Friday’s Child before her arrest, and for 12 long years had told and retold the story, committed to memory, of “what Kitten did next” to her fellow inmates.

“Truly, your characters managed to awaken smiles, even when hearts were heavy, stomachs empty and the future dark indeed”.

Praise that would astonish any writer.

Much in Hodge’s biography is of technical interest to writers: Heyer’s dealing with her several publishers and agents, and her views about the blurbs and jackets. There is a lesson too in reading about Heyer’s decades-long tax problems. Even though she always earned a lot she had cash flow problems. These mangled finances were caused by herself and her husband simply not taking a business-like approach to her income.

The Tedettes leave you with their favourite observation from Hodge’s biography:

“She had no patience for .. Russian gloom. If she had been one of Chekhov’s three sisters they would have got to Moscow.”

The Tedettes first looked at Hodge’s biography here, and then they read about Heyer’s hero’s here.

The Private World of Georgette Heyer and more about Miss Heyer the writer can be found at Amazon, and BookDepository. Thanks for joining the Teddettes as they explore the Regency world of Georgette Heyer.

You are at Mark’s blog called Baffled Bear Books. Mark is a dark coffee tragic and bibliophile as well as the Guardian and blundering typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears.

Often A Bounder: The Tedette’s Jane Austen Book Club reads about Georgette Heyer’s Heroes

Thrilled by Jane Austen’s novels, the Tedettes Jane Austen Book Club looked about for more books on the Regency. Their house (like every house, surely) turned out to be a treasure trove of novels by Georgette Heyer.  They also got their paws on Jane Aiken Hodges biography,  The Private World of Georgette Heyer  (Chivers 1984 edition). Read about their discovery here.

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The Tedettes get their paws on a trove of Georgette Heyer Novels


Georgette Heyer created her heroes very deliberately.  In correspondence with her publishers she gleefully refers to them in a private shorthand by Type, explaining for instance that a particular character is the “The Heyer Mark I” and another is “The Heyer Mark II” and so on.  She’d skilfully build up such a Type, and the readers’ conceptions of such a man,  and then two or three novels later, turn around the readers’ assumption by changing the decisions and actions of the Hero.

Mr Rochester: the prototype.

Jane Aiken Hodge found unpublished articles by Heyer, one of which will fascinate her readers (see Ch. 5 of the bio) as it concerns Mr Rochester, from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. This is Heyer’s own view of Mr Rochester:

“It is a accepted fact that women form the bulk of the novel reading public and what woman with romantic leanings wants to read novels which have as their heroes the sort of men she meets every day of her mundane life. (Mr Rochester) is rude, overbearing, and often a bounder, but these blemishes, however repulsive they may be in real life, can be made in the hands of a skilled novelist extremely attractive to many women.”

How ‘Fluffy’ was the Romance, really?

Hodge makes the case that underneath the entertaining friction and tension of her heroes and heroines lies an abiding principle: the protagonists are maturing through the pages into a rich and full relationship .

 Heyer’s idea of romance never ends with “happily married”.  Many of her characters get married off early in the book.  It is the story of their growing mutual respect and understanding afterwards that interests the writer,  and this must be the feature that kept – and still keeps – millions of readers coming back for more.

Antonia Byatt, in an article in Nova, stated,

” (Heyer) is playing romantic games with the novel of manners. In her world of romanticised anti romanticism … men and women really talk to each other … and plan to spend the rest of their lives together developing the relationships”.

In the Tedettes next post they will look at Georgette Heyer’s writing style.

The Private World of Georgette Heyer and more about Georgette Heyer are at Amazon, and BookDepository. Thanks for joining the Teddettes as they explore the Regency world of Georgette Heyer. Next they consider points about Heyer’s methods and style.

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You are at Mark’s blog called Baffled Bear Books. Mark is a dark coffee tragic and bibliophile as well as the Guardian and blundering typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears.

The Tedette’s Jane Austen Book Club reads: The Private World of Georgette Heyer, by Jane Aiken Hodge

Considered queen of the Regency romance, Georgette Heyer is one of the most beloved historical novelists of our time. As Hodge states in the Foreword of her biography: “She gave her name to a recognisable genre of fiction”.

Thrilled by Jane Austen’s books, the Tedettes looked about for more Regency novels. They’ve now got their paws on Chivers 1984 edition of The Private World of Georgette Heyer

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(From Hodges’ Foreword) “From none of the 51 titles in print when she died would you guess (Heyer) spent the early years of her married life (to Ronald Rougier) in rough camps first in Tanganyika then in Macedonia. But she recognised this for experience she could not use. No heroine of hers would ever sit in a grass hut writing a novel”.

“A best seller all her life without the aid of publicity, Heyer never gave an interview and only answered fan letters herself it they had made an interesting historical point.”

The biographer had access to private papers, correspondence and family archives. Hodge details the research Heyer applied to her period and the skill and craft that went into her characters.  Yet for most of her career, she was dismissed as a light romantic.

Hodge’s overriding theme is well expressed, I think, in this observation: ” If anyone could make the romantic novel respectable it should have been G. Heyer, unacknowledged moralist and stylist extraordinary. It did not happen in her lifetime and she minded, silently .. (yet) .. She gave an immense amount of pleasure to all kinds of people, and must have known she did.”

The Private World of Georgette Heyer is at Amazon, and BookDepository. Thanks for joining the Teddettes as they explore the Regency world of Georgette Heyer. Our next post is about the Heyer Heroes.   And you might also like to read about Heyer’s style, researches and writing.

The Tedettes have also read up on Jane Austen of course. You might like to read about Lady Susan and Two Hundred Years of Reading Pleasure.  You can see more of the Tedettes over at Mawson Bear’s own blob, umm, blog.
AbeBooks. Thousands of booksellers - millions of books.

You are at Mark’s blog called Baffled Bear Books. Mark is a dark coffee tragic and bibliophile as well as the Guardian and blundering typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears.

For Such A Time As This: My journey through cancer. How love and my cats sustained, fortified me, and helped take the pain away, by Pauline Dewberry

“I sat in stupefied silence .. How could I possibly have leukaemia? How did I get it? Why did I get it? Was I going to die? If so, when?”

At the age of 56 Pauline Dewberry felt content with her life. She had sons and grandchildren, the company of six cats, projects and plans. Then she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML).

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“Hold it there”, you may think. “You’re suggesting I read a depressing, medical-term laden memoir of a cancer survivor?” Not at all. I’m recommending a story of faith, prayers, cats, purring, medical marvels, unexpected friendships, and even a love story.

“I asked what would happen if there weren’t any (stem cell) matches. I was told that they would just make me as comforable as they could and basically wait for me to die.” By the greatest good fortune, Pauline’s brother turned out to be a match. But there was a long road to travel after that.

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The author wrote this often raw account of her seemingly interminable – and near to actually being terminal – battle with cancer to share how ‘despite the odds being stacked up against you, it IS possible to look your enemy in the eye and win’.

Pauline describes her illness and treatment with such clear language that it is easy to comprehend. As well as being informative about AML, this candid account will be a valuable eye-opener, I think, for the supporting friends and family of anyone who is locked in a prolonged battle with ill health, not only with cancer.

The author does not shirk from telling of the moments of indignity and additional trials involved, especially while in hospital. For instance, a mid-night ‘simple’ procedure to remove a cannula by a doctor ‘who looked to be about twelve years old’ became an hours-long complication leaving her with bruises and stitches. I felt like I’d been to war. Who knew that hospitals could be such dangerous places’. And at home there were the the maddening itches to endure, dry mouth, sleeping too much, then being unable to sleep, no appetite, then sugar cravings, nagging worries about changed appearance … On it goes, all the things that a healthy person (like me) would simply not realise an cancer patient is going through.

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Health is not only about the body, of course, but about the strength of the spirit. The author’s fears and doubts will resonate, I think, with many people dealing with a long illness. Despite knowing that hundreds were praying for her, there were many days of despair. Even simply telling people how sick she was turned into a struggle. Some reacted as if her illness was causing difficulty for them.

But she also found humour in unexpected things. The rumblings of her room-mate, Mr Fridge, for instance had me laughing. Although distressed by the loss of her hair, she talks with good humour about the new headwear. Deciding that the scarves made her look “like a Russian peasant wringing her hands at a failed beetroot crop” she opts for her faithful beanie.

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As well as her faith, and the great good fortune of the stem cell match with her brother, Pauline valued her ‘Purr-atherapy’. She describes how her cats would curl against her at home and purr her through many dark hours. As time passed, each of her purr-ers died, sadly. But two new cats, Casey and Gibbs, introduced themselves into her life, and with their company the author is now in remission after surviving aggressive chemotherapy, the stem cell transplant, CMV, MRSA and Graft Vs host Disease (GVHD).

This is a true story of great odds surmounted and of quiet daily courage. And remarkably, Pauline found ‘autumnal love,’ even at such a time as this.

The Daily Mews is Pauline Dewberry’s popular website for cat lovers. With cat humour and jokes, caption contests, guest articles about cat care and cat antics, it is your ‘purrfect way to start the day.’ (Mawson’s guardian has been a reader of the dailymews.com for years.)

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The author: Pauline Dewbery trained to be an editor and had many articles published in teen girl’s magazines. Pauline is a pet bereavement counsellor. Her Daily Mews website provides, among other things, a space to respectfully reflect on feelings of grief for our passed pets, for instance, in the tributes called “Napping on A Sunbeam”. Another popular feature of The Daily Mews was “Ollie’s Diary”. When Ollie died Pauline decided, after some thought, to continue with the diary but with Ollie now reporting from beyond the Rainbow Bridge. She is currently preparing these diaries for publication. You can contact Pauline at pauline @thedailymews.com or p.dewberry @ntlworld.com

Where to find it For Such A Time As This, by Pauline Dewberry, cover by Aida Marina: Amazon UK and Amazon USA (under $3 on Kindle) and Amazon Australia (free right now with Kindle unlimited). Check your own Amazon Stores in Kindle.

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You are at Mark’s blog called Baffled Bear Books. Mark is a dark coffee tragic, bibliophile and Guardian of Mawson Bear, a Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears.