1. You wish Jane Austen had written more books.
If you are an Austen fan, you know that one of the chiefest pleasures of her books is rereading them. But that only goes so far, and at some point (probably right about the time you are trying to force yourself to yet again face Mansfield Park), you may want to branch out a bit. If only you could find something romantic (but not sentimental), with witty dialogue and interesting characters, all in a Regency setting. Why not give Georgette Heyer a try? No, of course her books aren’t exactly like Austen’s—nor should they be. But they have plenty of sparkle, humor, and romance. It’s rather like choosing between champagne and a champagne cocktail.
2. You’re a rom-com fan.
You know the drill—they meet cute, they don’t get along, circumstances force them to spend time together, and they keep fighting until—just when one of them realizes they’re in love—disaster happens, a disaster that somehow turns into a happy ending. With a good cast and a halfway-decent script, it’s a painless way to spend a couple of hours and five or ten dollars. Well, Georgette Heyer’s books have all the fun, but with much better dialogue. And they’re cheaper, too, on a per-hour basis.
3. You’ve been spending too much time lately reading literary fiction.
Why not take a break from the heavy, deep, and real to sample Georgette Heyer’s oeuvre? Trade the free-floating angst and existential crises of today for witty exchanges and foolish escapades among the rich and idle of two centuries ago—well-crafted prose that, light though it may be, still manages to thoroughly explore the mysteries of the human heart in all its absurd glory.
4. You’re into chick lit.
Georgette Heyer has it all: gossip, friendships, backstabbing, parties, wardrobe, romance, shopping. What’s not to like?
5. You have a sense of adventure.
Georgette Heyer’s novels aren’t just ball gowns and banter. She manages to pack plenty of action into her plots. A quick survey of her stories reveals kidnappings, several duels, a couple of attempted murders, housebreaking, smuggling, a few shootings, insanity, a runaway hot air balloon, and the Battle of Waterloo. [I’m told that her account of the battle is so accurate that An Infamous Army has been used as a text at Sandhurst (the British military academy).]
So, where to start?
The most fun is probably The Grand Sophy, but you really can’t go too far wrong with any of her novels. I definitely recommend Arabella, Bath Tangle, Cousin Kate, Faro’s Daughter, The Foundling, Sprig Muslin, Sylvester (or The Wicked Uncle) and Venetia. My own favorite is Cotillion, but since it’s partly a self-parody, to really enjoy it you need to read a few of her other books first.