There is something wonderfully comforting about reading a novel in which the most exciting element is a rather chaste kiss – the first of many, we are to believe, because nice women don’t kiss men who aren’t going to be their husbands. A place where good men are trustworthy and cads are harshly dealt with. A place where a woman’s main job is to find the perfect husband. A place where a happy ending is guaranteed.
When I’m looking to be transported to a simpler and happier place than the world in which I live, I know I can turn to the guilty pleasure of a Regency Romance. Apparently I’ve needed a bit of “transportation” this summer, because I’ve read two such books in the past two months, and enjoyed them thoroughly.
My first was Georgette Heyer’s Frederica, a delightful if predicable story about the strong-willed young woman who comes to London for a season in search of a successful match for her beautiful but slow-witted younger sister, Charis. She employs the help of a distant cousin and confirmed bachelor, The Marquis of Alverstoke, to ease Charis’ way in society. The Marquis goes along with the plan to annoy his conniving sisters, but gets more than he bargained for when he unintentionally becomes the protector of Frederica’s exuberant brothers and their bad-mannered dog, “the Baluchistan hound.” Frederica is resigned to her role as spinster and guardian to her young brothers, but I had enough faith in the genre to figure that wasn’t going to happen. Still, the energetic brothers and the Marquis’ scheming sisters make for some interesting plot twists. Nothing taxing, but still thoroughly enjoyable.
Unlike Jane Austen or Elizabeth Gaskell, Georgette Heyer, writing from her relatively comfortable 20th century perch, was herself unfettered and undamaged by the constraints imposed on her female characters by the societies she was writing about. Being so removed from the time period may be the reason she could be so sanguine about her characters’ prospects for happiness—she never suffered because of prevailing attitudes and customs of the time, like female authors of the time would have. But then, if I want to read something that accurately represents a particular time period, I read something written then – not something written two or three hundred years after the fact. A Regency Romance is just some good, clean, literary fun! If you still have time for summer reading, these romances would be good ones to put in your beach bag, or load on your e-reader.
~Col of Col Reads
*Don’t forget to enter to win one of two fabulous Georgette Heyer Prize Packs from Sourcebooks. Also each “meaningful” comment on any Georgette Heyer post (including this one) in the month of August at Stiletto Storytime will also get you additional entries.*