Queue My Review

May 12, 2008

Review: Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , — jjmachshev @ 5:13 pm
Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer

Truth to tell, I’m a little discomfited to be writing a review of Georgette Heyer’s “Lady of Quality”. Heyer was, after all, the progenitor of the Regency Romance genre. What can I possibly say that hasn’t been said, and likely better, by much more facile and famous reviewers than myself? But, Quentin the taskmistress has set me to this undertaking so onward I shall go!

Did I enjoy reading this book? Indeed I did. Heyer’s style of writing draws the reader into her regency world and immerses us into this different time with wholly different standards of behavior, station, and living. Our heroine, Annis, is revealed to us as very much the deviation from the norm. But, there are no speeches or ruminations about ‘proper’ behavior and instead, we learn what makes Annis so different from others of her time and station by her actions and the ensuing reactions of others to her actions in various situations. Heyer doesn’t preach and prosy about what made those times so different from ours. She allows us to learn for ourselves throughout the progress of her story. And being me, I always enjoy authors who don’t try to bash me over the head with data like I’m an idiot!

Her hero, the rake Oliver, was truly not the focus of this book. I would really consider him a more secondary character in comparison. This book is about Annis; her feelings, beliefs, behaviors, and secret desires. Oliver and his actions toward others, including Annis, really just provides the means for a radical change in Annis’ thinking. Here she is, 29 years old (an old maid of her time), and with a definite, yet unstated, view of her future. She will only marry for love, for the possibility of love…not for comfort, or to bow to pressure, or for money or ‘things’. Now, here’s Oliver. She can’t for the life of her figure out why, or even if she likes him. But over time, she finds that she can’t imagine life without him. Now, isn’t that love?

I also found it intriguing that there was still passion in this book; it was just veiled, very unlike these days of open sexuality and blatant language. Don’t get me wrong! I happily read erotica as well as romance and mystery and…well anything really. But it’s probably been ten years since I’ve intentionally picked up a romance book I knew would be sexually suitable for a teen reader. A good friend from Goodreads.com, knowing my readaholic illness, asked me before I was offered this book for review if I’d ever read Heyer. I said, “Of course!” But knowing her reading tastes, I went on to remind her that the majority of Heyer’s books were written during the 1930s to 1950s. This was a very different time with repressed sexual morals most of us today can’t begin to imagine! And yet, her novels continue to sell, and sell very well, regardless of when they are reprinted. Maybe that’s because love and our ideas of what love is, and isn’t, don’t really change.

“Lady of Quality” is considered the last full-length regency novel Georgette Heyer penned. First published in 1972, it’s a stunning example of her style and voice, perfected over her years of writing. Whether you’re a long-time Heyer fan or have never tried one of her novels, I’d definitely suggest you give this one a try. I did and I’m glad. She was, after all, and will always be the Queen of the Regency romance.

 

Reviewed by Julie

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