Today I am excited to have a wonderful guest blog by Jennifer Kloester on her new biography of one of my favorite authors, Georgette Heyer. Kloester shares her experience with discovering the wonderful works of Heyer and writing this biography. It is next on my to-read pile so look for my review this month!
Hi Laura, thanks so much for hosting my Georgette Heyer Blog on your lovely site.
The first time I read a Georgette Heyer novel I was living in a small mining town in the jungle in Papua New Guinea (truly!). We were very lucky to have a tiny YWCA library with a surprisingly wide range of books, among which were many well-read Heyer paperbacks. My first was Cotillion. It's a delicious novel with a wonderful cast of characters and some incredibly funny laugh-out-loud scenes. I loved Kitty Charing and her various suitors, dreadful old Mr Penicuik and poor Miss Fishguard, and within a couple of chapters I was hooked! After that I tried to get hold of every Heyer novel I could – though that took several years because she was so prolific. To this day I am in awe of the consistently high standard of her writing and, although I've sometimes heard critics claim that she used the same characters over again, I'm always struck by her ability to bring something fresh and new to each novel (and I've read her books many, many times). Heyer was a born storyteller and she loved getting to know her characters – in fact, they were so like real people to her that she sometimes complained that they took over her stories and had to be firmly dealt with!
One of the things I love about Heyer is the way she brings the past to life. She makes it seem real and I've always felt that if I could somehow time-travel back to the Regency era I'd know exactly how to behave because I'd read her novels. In fact, it was her ability to blend historical fact with an entertaining fictional story that made me want to know more about the woman behind the books. I'd read Jane Aiken Hodge's excellent biography and from that I'd learned that Heyer was incredibly private and the only firsthand information from Heyer herself were the letters she'd written to her publisher. But these dated from 1944 when Heyer was in her forties and already a bestselling author. I was sure there was more to know, so in 2001 I began researching her life.
I made regular trips to England where I was lucky enough to have the kind support of her son, Sir Richard Rougier. It was thanks to Sir Richard that I was able to gain access to a number of unread collections of Georgette Heyer's letters. That was incredibly exciting. I'll never forget reading those first letters – written by Georgette when she was only 18 and had just received the contract for her first book, The Black Moth. Over the next five years I located more than 600 previously unread letters full of new information about Heyer. Those letters (often thousands of words and pages long) were part of what made writing the biography so much fun because they not only told me heaps of new things about Heyer but they also opened up hundreds of new research lines for me to pursue. I spoke to those who'd known her, visited every house she'd ever lived in, immersed myself in her notebooks and private papers, read the books she'd read, walked where she'd walked, did one of her famous jigsaw puzzles and sat on the gold velvet Knole sofa (in her son's sitting-room) where she used to play solitaire while working out her plots and characters.
People sometimes describe Heyer's novels as the ultimate re-read and I think that's true. Her books are like a delicious meal that makes you savour every mouthful and when you get to the end you wish you could do it all again! And that's the great thing about having so many of her novels – you can read them again and again and they'll go on making you laugh and sigh and smile and wanting to share them with your friends. She was a wonderful writer with a great sense of humour and a genius for creating characters who live on long after the last page is read.
Sourcebooks has graciously offered a giveaway of one copy of Georgette Heyer by Jennifer Kloester.
If you would like to win a copy of this book please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the this book or this great Guest Blog.
As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.
For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.
I will be using random.org (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.
This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).
No P.O. Boxes.
The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday January 18th, 2013.
Please make sure to check the fourth week of January to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.
I am the Environmental Engineering Technology Instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and a mom with three wonderful children; two sons and one daughter. I have loved to read and watch movies since I was a child. I knew my husband was for me when I found him looking through my books in my apartment during our first date and offering his opinion!