Book review: Venetia by Georgette Heyer.

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Scrolling despondently through my Twitter feed while I was on/in my sick bed last week I came across this Tweet:

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As a lover of romantic fiction, book snobbery is something I am more than familiar with (and roll my eyes at) but Georgette Heyer was a new name to me. I clicked on the link and no sooner had I finished reading Rowan’s article than I was downloading one of Heyer’s books, Venetia, for the Kindle. I have to admit, later, I was secretly pleased to be stuck in bed because I couldn’t put it down.

Heyer, who was born in London in 1902, released one romance and one thriller each year from 1932. She was still writing up until her death in 1974. She is charged with essentially establishing the: “…historical romance genre and its sub-genre Regency romance.” Most of her books are set before 1800 and are clearly inspired by Jane Austen – although Austen wrote about the period in which she was living.

As Rowan says of Heyer’s Regency romances:

“They are funny and clever and exciting and, actually, even pretty feminist. The men are almost always the ones who have to compromise their lifestyles, eager to change for the sake of marriage to a good woman. An excellent woman, most of the time.”

Venetia is most certainly an excellent woman. She’s clever, bright, funny and well aware of the limitations placed on her by society but pushing at them as much as she can.

Here’s the blurb:

In all her twenty-five years, lovely Venetia Lanyon has never been further than Harrogate, nor enjoyed the attentions of any but her two wearisomely persistent suitors. Then, in one extraordinary encounter, she meets a neighbour she only knows by reputation – the infamous Lord Damerel – and before she knows better, is egging on a libertine whose way of life has scandalised the North Riding for years.

Lord Jasper Damerel, known as the Wicked Baron because of his”rakish” behaviour, is a bit of a tinker by all accounts but we all love a bad boy – even a Regency one – don’t we? And he turns out to be a perfect fit for Venetia.

Heyer’s writing is lively and colourful and the plot never dull. The language takes a bit of getting used to but I think we should all revert back to that way of speaking – some of the insults are marvellous. I’ve already read a second of her books, Lady of Quality, and I’m about to pick a third.

I am so pleased to have discovered her (thanks, Rowan).

 

 

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