Aug 5, 2010

Book Review: Georgette Heyer's Regency World by Jennifer Kloester

Georgette Heyer's Regency World by Jennifer Kloester
400 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks reissue (August 1, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-1402241369
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:


Immerse yourself in the resplendent glow of Regency England and the world of Georgette Heyer...


From the fascinating slang, the elegant fashions, the precise ways the bon ton ate, drank, danced, and flirted, to the shocking real life scandals of the day, Georgette Heyer's Regency World takes you behind the scenes of Heyer's captivating novels.


As much fun to read as Heyer's own novels, beautifully illustrated, and meticulously researched, Jennifer Kloester's essential guide brings the world of the Regency to life for Heyer fans and Jane Austen fans alike.

At first glance, readers may get excited that this could be a piece of literature focused on something regarding Georgette Heyer. This is definitely not a biography of Heyer, but more of an inside look at the culture of the Regency period in which famed author Georgette Heyer wrote of. From the styles of clothes and the dances that were acceptable to the period, to references to Heyer's novels and to the Prince Regent, this is an intelligent look at the Regency period that gives the novels of Jane Austen and Heyer a lot more context.

I am a huge fan of Georgette Heyer for the way that her writing style makes me laugh and for the silly situations that Heyer put her characters in. I have only read one Austen novel (Pride and Prejudice) and about six or seven of Heyer's Regencies. Heyer is touted as the Queen of Regency, and I would not disagree there. This reissue of Georgette Heyer's Regency World is a wonderful companion to Heyer's Regencies and I appreciate the amount of research the author must have done in order to put something like this together. Not entirely entertaining such as a Heyer regency, this goes into encyclopedia-like detail about anything and everything Regency related and what it was like to be gentleman or a lady at that time, and I must say, I would much prefer to be a gentleman. The life of a lady was a lot more restricted, unless of course she was lucky enough to become a widow and then she could enjoy herself (after a responsible period of mourning, of course!). Yet, what was amazing to me was that wives were also 'allowed' to have affairs once she provided her husband with an heir. And never expect a man to be faithful.. why, that is unheard of!! I found much of the information written to be very interesting and enlightening, especially the references to the actual people of the Regency period such as Beau Brummel and the Royal family, and the medicinal habits which make me cringe.

Once upon a time I was whimsically wishing that I were a grand lady riding in a phaeton in Hyde Park during promenade hour, but after reading this tell-all of the Regency Period, I am pretty much happy to have my own voice as a married woman as I am definitely demanding fidelity from my husband! I cannot imagine what it must be like to witness the privileged folks out dancing and partying their lives away, while the common folks struggled to put bread on their table. And all one had to do to be privileged was to be born in that family, and there was zero requirement to be intelligent or charitable or to have a job. The job of the privileged was to honor the code, unwritten and written, of the privileged.
"It was acceptable to offer one's snuff-box to the company but not to ask for a pinch of snuff from anyone else."
 "During the Season it was essential to be seen in Hyde Park during the Promenade hour of 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm."
This was an interesting read for me as a casual Regency fan, though I suspect that those more familiar with the period may find this work old news, though there are quaint line drawings which also add some life to the text. Absolutely everything was covered, from the fashions to the carriages to the houses to the dances.. I will set this book right up on the Heyer bookshelf and may even have to refer to its glossary and Who's Who section for my next Heyer read; if you are a Heyer reader this should go along with your Regencies as well. You can get the zoom in/preview feature of this work on Amazon here by clicking on the image of the book.