Wednesday, January 30, 2013
I knew nothing about Georgette Heyer before reading Jane Aiken Hodge’s biography. Aiken Hodge’s biography focused on finding Heyer through her novels, explaining them, and the context in which they were written. It was an excellent book and I break it out whenever I read a new Heyer novel to get some background information. Although it was a good biography, it left me wanting more.
Georgette Heyer by Jennifer Kloester fills that gap. Kloester was given access to Aiken Hodges research archive as well as exclusive access to many of Heyer’s letters. She used this information to weave an intriguing story of Heyer and her life from childhood, through her prolific writing career, to her death too early from cancer.
I was especially intrigued by Heyer and her finances. After her father’s heart attack while Heyer was in her early 20’s, she became the primary bread winner for her family. After her marriage, Heyer was at times not only supporting herself and her own husband and son, but her mother and two brothers as well. This caused significant stress to Heyer, especially as she had to at times put away passion projects to focus on the regency romance and mystery novels that made her money. The tax rates in Britain at the time also took a significant amount of her income (something like 85%) so that did not help.
Although Heyer was often motivated financially to work on certain novels, she did in depth research and enjoyed creating intriguing characters. It was interesting to read her letters back and forth with her publishers on the topics.
I was sad to read about her untimely death, and even sadder to read about the suicide of her husband not too long after.
If you are a lover of Georgette Heyer novels, this novel is a must read. It is also a great read if you are looking for a book about a strong woman who beat the odds to become a very successful author in the twentieth century.
Book Source: Review Copy from Sourcebooks. Thank-you!