Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester is available August 1.
This extremely interesting compendium of insights and knowledge came my way by One Who Knows how much a fan of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen I am. Neatly organized into chapters by topic, Kloester provides basic information on the life upper class men and women lived in the Regency Era. Using the historical knowledge she accrued while writing her dissertation on Georgette Heyer, she provides the background on what the Regency was. In Chapter 14, she writes brief, pithy biographical sketches of the Royal family, as well as other real people who appear throughout the Heyer Regency books: Edward Hughes “Golden Ball” Hughes, Sally Jersey, Lady Castlereagh, George Bryan (Beau) Brummell, and noted authors of the day. Her sketches of the Royals are most helpful, for this was an era filled with Royal siblings, offspring and mistresses.
I also enjoyed the chapters on fashion and shopping; the sketches of the various outfits will be most helpful to those readers who do not have a strong foundation in the history of fashion. While men’s fashions began their evolution into the suits of today, women during the Regency enjoyed a rare period of less constriction and heavy underpinnings. Definitions and sketches of pelisses, morning and promenade dresses give good clues to what the characters wear.
Throughout the book, Kloester clarifies definitions by referring to some of Heyer’s Regency novels. So we are reminded that Abigail Wendover first appears to us in Black Sheep dressed in the latest thing in carriage dresses, and that Freddy Standen’s perfectly cut coat and satin knee breeches were identified as just the thing for an appearance at Almack’s. That fine institution of the Marriage Mart is also explained and clarified with references to Cotillion, The Grand Sophy, Friday’s Child, Regency Buck, and Frederica. These references give a nice context to a somewhat dry discussion, and keep the reader engaged in the book.
It is a helpful source of information for the fan of Heyer, for her books are set strongly within the period; Heyer was a meticulous researcher and avid historian. While she defines terms contextually, readers may need a little more information than Heyer provides. Kloester gives it in good doses, enlivened by references to books they may have read, or will be likely to read soon.
It is not, however, the definitive guide for all fans of Austen and Heyer it purports to be. Jane Austen does not set her books in the Beau Monde, or ton, as does Heyer, and her references to clothing, furnishings, and travel are sparse. She is writing in the period, not of the period, and is more interested in the people and their actions than the stuff of their lives. The book does not cite references beyond the mentions in the Heyer books, although Kloester does include an extensive list of resources for someone who wishes to pursue Regency research in Appendix 5. It is not a scholarly work, but an informative one. Her Heyer citations are helpful, if one has read the particular book, and only informative of where to find such an object or how the neck cloth is tied, if not. That being said, the book is filled with tasty little nuggets of information. I enjoyed her brief insights and explanations on the wide-ranging topics.
Reviewed by Lady Anne
Inquiring Readers: Lady Anne is my special friend. I have read Georgette Heyer since I turned 22, and I have read all of her books at least once. But Lady Anne has read Georgette Heyer novels every night for at least 30 years. She knows the plots and dialogs inside and out; and can name every character of all her favorite Georgette Heyer books, including the mysteries and histories. She graciously agreed to review Jennifer Kloester’s book while I tended to a family emergency.
Jane Austen’s World reviews of Georgette Heyer’s novels
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