A few weeks ago a member of a historical novels group I belong to asked the question, “Which author first turned you on to historical fiction?” Because I read all genres and always have, I don’t have anyone who made me want to focus on historical fiction as some readers in this group do. It wasn’t a good question for me. However, a lot of people in the group answered the question, and many said Georgette Heyer. I’d never heard of Georgette Heyer, but so many people said so many good things about her novels, I decided I better read her.
Georgette Heyer published in the 1940s and 1950s, and my public library has about twenty of her books. I checked out two at random and was delighted with what I found. Heyer writes Regency romances—romances in the way of Jane Austen, figuring heavily on character and manners, with hand-kissing being a daring show of affection. Her women are spirited and fun, her men easy to fall for. Many of her plots end in imbroglios that belong on the French stage. My family is getting used to me laughing out loud while reading Heyer. Her stories are humorous and warm-hearted.
For me, there is a bittersweetness to reading Georgette Heyer. The stories are sweet, without any darkness, and they take place in England: my mother would have loved Georgette Heyer. Maybe she DID love Georgette Heyer! She most likely read her as a teenager. If my mother were alive, we would be talking about Georgette Heyer. Maybe she did not know her, and I would be able to recommend the books to her. More likely, she would remember how much she loved Georgette Heyer and begin to re-read her. We would have long telephone conversations about each book.
Each time I finish a Georgette Heyer, I have that floating-on-a-cloud feeling you get at the end of a well-crafted romance. I want to pick up the phone and call Mom. I can’t, of course, so I think about the many wonderful phone conversations about books we did have, and I feel lucky. Lucky and unlucky. I miss her like a lost limb.
Today would have been my mother’s 71st birthday.