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wealhtheow

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The Theory of the Leisure Class (Modern Library Classics)
Thorstein Veblen, Alan Wolfe
Georgette Heyer - Jennifer Kloester Georgette Heyer was the first child of middle-class parents, was very well educated by them (she never attended college), and began making up stories to amuse her younger brothers. In 1921, when she was just 17, the first of her novels ([b:The Black Moth|311322|The Black Moth|Georgette Heyer|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1216233787s/311322.jpg|2651650]) was published. Since then, her novels have been continuously in print, even during world wars and when paper was extremely restricted through rationing. Writing, on average, at least a novel a year (along with innumerable short stories for ladies' magazines), Heyer published 55 novels before dying at the age of 72.

Although Heyer wrote detective stories and novels set in time periods ranging from the 1200s to the modern day, what she is most famous for are her 43* Regency-era romantic comedy novels. Her meticulously detailed research (done at a time when she had to compile it herself, without use of historians' notes or books) is still marveled at today, even if the mindsets she gives her characters feel a little more Edwardian than Regency.

I would only recommend this book to those who have read at least several Heyer novels, preferably at least half of them. Much of this biography is basically a short synoposis of Heyer writing each novel, interspersed with quotes from letters from and to her discussing it. The rest of it is basically a recounting of her financial doings (Heyer had astoundingly complicated finances) and medical woes. Heyer's character comes through, a woman who was deeply classist and touchy about taste and class, who loved to travel, research and write, who was very conservative for much of her life. Her letters are witty, all sarcastic asides and playful tangents; the substance is all subtext.

This biography helped me appreciate Heyer's novels a great deal more than I had previously; I hadn't realized how incredibly rapidly she wrote (sometimes she wrote the entire thing in just a couple months!), nor had I realized that her books were never edited--hell, her agent and publisher hardly ever read them! She generally turned over the first draft and it was immediately published, even at the very start of her career. Often her novels were published serially in magazines, as she wrote them. Nor had I realized just how many books she churned out--no wonder her characters feel a bit same-y, given that she was writing several novels a year!

I was also quite pleased to find out that Heyer wrote short stories. There isn't a complete list or index anywhere, but the biographer did manage to track down 26 that were published in various magazines. Sounds like they'll be good morphine once the Heyer heroin runs out!


*to be precise, only 30 novels were set during the actual 9 years of Prinny's regency; the others, like the famous [b:These Old Shades|311182|These Old Shades (Alistair, #1)|Georgette Heyer|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1173644611s/311182.jpg|2682162] are set a bit earlier.