Our final episode: a deep dive into The Grand Sophy – plus, Heyer’s Deathbed Scene

 

Olivia Hetreed

It’s here … our final Heyer Today episode – and it’s packed with Heyer goodies for your delight! Sara-Mae talks to screenwriter Olivia Hetreed about her and hubby’s film version of The Grand Sophy and also talks about other literary adaptations she did (Wuthering Heights and Girl With A Pearl Earring). Peter Buckman chats about his podcast version of The Grand Sophy and Jen Kloester (Heyer’s biographer) discusses the alleged anti semitism in The Grand Sophy, arguing against cancelling Heyer.

We also visit Heyer on her deathbed in a very touching and emotional scene at the hospital with the love of her life, Ronald Rougier. Heyer is played by Sarah Golding and Ronald by the brilliant Karim Kronfli.


Karim Kronfli


There’s also a final book club featuring Beth Keehn’s twin Jane and her friends in Australia.

You can read the Smart Bitches Trashy Books article Jen Kloester mentions here.
 
Even though this is our last official episode, the Heyer extravaganza doesn’t stop here! We’re looking to collaborate with the Heyer Society and Jen Kloester on future bonus episodes.

Many thanks to everyone who supported us over the years, whether financially or with generous reviews. Beth and Sara-Mae have spent a long time on this podcast and each kind word has meant a great deal.

If you’d like to help us create bonus episodes and new series, please go to our Paypal page here – even small amounts can make a big difference.

The music used in this episode is from Emma Gattril’s luminous album, Chapter I, as well as Jerome Alexander’s cinematic Message to Bears work. Original music was composed especially for the podcast by Sara-Mae and Tom Chadd and their work will shortly be available on Spotify and Bandcamp or on request for people who donate to our Paypal.

Remember to rate and review the pod … it helps small indie companies like us to thrive.

Check out our last episode here!
 
Well, it’s been an epic few years producing Heyer Today…

… over which time, the world has been reshaped by a pandemic, writer & producer Sara-Mae has had a child, and she has met a huge community of Heyer admirers and fans. It’s been a tremendously rewarding process in which she’s gotten to reread the books she’s loved almost all her life and see them with fresh eyes, alongside our Heyer newbies.

Since she began this project, looking for Heyer content that was thin on the ground, new podcasts have sprung up and academic essays and conferences exploring the world Heyer created, as well as TV shows adapting the work of similar authors. All of which has made us hopeful that at long last, Heyer will get the recognition she deserves from critics and movie makers.

At Fable Gazers, we’d like to send out Special Thanks to:

Mike Scott, who helped with production, as well as a little acting here and there.

Rowan Scott for being an adorable addition to the Fable Gazers family.

Cat Warren and Will Dell for their help across the series with production.
Michael Mandalis edited and recorded Sara-Mae’s bits throughout the season and he did a marvellous job.

Thanks also to Geraldine Elliot, Talitha Gamaroff and everyone who supported us in creating this work.

We could never have made this without the help of all the guests we’ve had on this season’s episodes. You’re all totally fabulous, even if you didn’t become converts.

We’d like to thank our wonderful cast: Helen Davidge as young Heyer, Beth Crane and Hedley Knight playing multiple roles, including Hedley as Heyer’s son, Richard (please check out their brilliant pod We Fix Space Junk, amongst many others), Fiona Thraille (playing Pat Wallace and others), Thomas and Holly Golding as young Boris and young Richard, John Grayson as Frere, Karen Heimdahl, Sara-Mae’s mother, Cathy Tuson as Sylvia, and Mike Scott, again.  And a big shout out to our other amazing voice artists John Grayson and Karen Heimdahl.

You all helped to bring Heyer’s world to life, and we’re profoundly grateful to all of you.

Special thanks to Peter Buckman for all his kind assistance, and for letting us use selections from his adaptation of The Grand Sophy. Do go and find out more about it here.

Let’s stay connected on social media! We’re @fablegazers on Instagram and @fable_gazers on Twitter.

Listen to our finale here!

Support us to keep bringing you bonus episodes!
Sarah Golding

Heyer, Austen & Why  Problematic Heroes are Lovable


 
Amy Street

We’re back after our Christmas break with a scintillating new episode of Heyer Today! We hope you had a wonderful festive season.

In our penultimate episode, Sara-Mae talks to Amy Street, who runs the @georgettedaily account on Twitter. She’s also a huge fan of Austen – her debut novel ‘Becoming Mary’ explores what happened to Mary Bennet after Pride & Prejudice. Her delightful selections of Georgette Heyer’s quotes are a wonderful, sunny oasis in the somewhat harsh social media landscape.
 
As well as discussing Heyer, Austen and their favourite novels, Sara-Mae and Amy also dip into the juicy topics of fan fiction and why it’s OK to love problematic heroes. 

Plus, Stephen Fry is back with another guest appearance!

Here’s a quote from Amy Street to whet your appetite: “One of the great gifts that Freud has given to our culture is that our sexual fantasies are not to be censored in any way. They are beyond sin, they’re beyond political correctness. That’s the nature of sexual fantasy … We have to accept that our fantasy lives don’t necessarily reflect the person we might want to appear.”

 

Have a listen here and don’t forget to download, rate & recommend so we can reach more Heyerites & potential future fans!

Check out our latest episode!
Our last episode will be a doozy of a finale, with a heartbreaking audio drama scene from Heyer’s deathbed, featuring our fabulous stars Sarah Golding and Karim Kronfli.

On top of this, we’ll finally hear what happened to the film version of The Grand Sophy, as Peter Buckman and screenwriter Olivia Hetreed will update us on developments. We’ll also have one final batch of newbies reading TGS – a real life Aussie book club. And what’s more, it’s run by Jane Keehn, twin to our very own Beth.

Don’t miss it!

Listen to our latest Heyer Today episode here

Heyer Today highlights as we come to a close!

It’s sad but true that Heyer Today is almost at an end! We’ll be bringing you our final two episodes soon, starting next Wed 12th Jan.

In the meantime, enjoy these highlights from previous episodes:

Episode 1 with Stephen Fry (who will be back in our next episode!)
Episode 21 with Chocolat author Joanne Harris
Episode 12, featuring Cotillion, which got some of our highest ratings.


Artwork by Catherine Tuson

Our latest reviews:


And such a lovely Twitter thread from a fan of Heyer Today and @georgetteheyerpodcast (an excellent show, highly recommend). It means so much to hear something like this!


 We look forward to seeing you next week for our penultimate episode, an interview with Amy Street of @georgettedaily, a huge Heyer AND Austen fan, which includes a bonus appearance from Stephen Fry!

After the season ends, we plan to bring you some occasional bonus episodes in the future too! 

Thank you so much for all your support in listening, rating and reviewing us! 
Want us to keep going? Buy us a cup of tea!

Black Sheep: Our Latest Book Episode

Emma Moran
Can we convert two more people who’ve NEVER read Heyer, the underappreciated author of hilarious and charming Regency romances and detective novels?

In our latest book club episode and our last episode of 2021, we talk about ‘Black Sheep’ with Emma Moran, winner of the 2019 Thousand Films award, and Margaret Sutherland, Project Coordinator for Transcribimus living in Vancouver, Canada, who’s been encouraged to read ‘Black Sheep by one of my very first victims, Geraldine – her niece by marriage (see episode 6, Faro’s Daughter).

Emma’s a Northern Irish writer and comedian, based in London. She began writing and performing sketch comedy and stand up while at UCL and took a sketch show, Galpals, to the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe. Most excitingly, she’s recently had her first TV show, Extraordinary, greenlit for Disney+.  She’s also written and produced comedy sketches for The Hook, as well as Newsjack. We got together in that hallowed time in the distant past before the ‘rona virus turned us all into bitter recluses.
Margaret Sutherland
Margaret Sutherland is a Project Coordinator for Transcribimus living in Vancouver, Canada. She kindly read Black Sheep with me, encouraged by her niece by marriage, Geraldine – one of my very first victims (see episode 6, Faro’s Daughter).
We’ll also be travelling back in time to 1966 to take a look at what Heyer was up to when writing the book.

Tune in here and don’t forget to download, rate & recommend so we can reach more Heyer fans & future converts!

Check out Black Sheep!
Our latest Fable Gazers stats!

Heyer Today has just hit just over 30K downloads and The Sugar Baby Confessionals has reached 88,851K!

Wow! Thanks so much for all your support! Every download and share makes a difference.

If you appreciate our work and would like to make a donation for future projects (like our exciting upcoming This Song May Save You‘), that would be a lovely Xmas pressie for us hardworking bunch here on the team (or maybe keeping us in cups of tea for next year)!
Send us a little pressie!
We’re taking a much-deserved Christmas break for 2 weeks and will be back with our final two episodes on Friday 7th Jan and Wed 12th Jan 2022.

We wish you a very merry Christmas and look forward to seeing you in the New Year!

False Colours: Our 10th Book Club Episode!

Rhiannon Shaw
In this week’s literary aural feast, we discuss charming twins-themed romance False Colours with two fabulous ladies who are also Heyer newbies: Jenni Waugh, who has worked on the Jane Austen Centre website and social media channels in Bath, and Rhiannon Shaw, a comedian and writer who’s written for The Daily Mash, BBCs Newsjack, Succubus Magazine and TurtleCanyon.com.
 
False Colours paints a fascinating picture of family life during the Regency era. We also explore some little-known facts about sex work in the 18th century!

Lots of juicy Jane Austen discussion in this episode too … We’ve also enjoyed exploring Victoire Sanborn’s Jane Austen blog. You can check out this short story of Georgette’s here.

*Please note that we’ve mispronounced ‘Evelyn’ in this podcast episode – it should be ‘Eve-a-lin’ rather than ‘Ev-a-lin’*.

 Tune in here and don’t forget to rate, recommend & review us so we can reach more podcast lovers and Heyer fanatics (& future converts!). We’re available on all good podcast players, iTunes, Spotify or Amazon Music.
 
Check out our latest Heyer Today episode here!
P.S.  Fancy  buying us a cup of tea? You can make a donation via our support page here.

“They’re out of control, I love that element of them”

An interview with author Joanne Harris about all things Heyer

   

In our latest Heyer Today episode, author Joanne Harris  (MBE) explores why Heyer’s books have yet to be made into films, in spite of being utterly delightful.Best known for her delicious and highly successful novel Chocolat, which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche, Joanne is very well placed to be able to talk about the difficulties of adapting a book into film.

Not only that, she’s also a huge Heyer fan. Joanne is outspoken about author’s rights, but does so with pith and humour, and lists her hobbies as “mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion of the system”.



Join Sara-Mae and Joanne Harris as they tuck in to a tasty discussion of Georgette Heyer and what makes her work so satisfying to those of us who love her.

“You’re in [her] world all the time and you’re completely immersed, even though you’re aware that there is a certain amount of mockery and subversion going on. But it doesn’t tip the balance too much; it doesn’t stop you from enjoying that immersion.” – Joanne Harris

As well as the difficulties of having a film adapted, we talk about a myriad of other things such as food in books, the trivialisation of romantic and historical fiction when a woman writes, and the importance of appreciating different things at different ages.

We dabble in heroines and talk about ‘These Old Shades’, ‘Faro’s Daughter’, ‘The Grand Sophy’, and ‘April Lady’. Joanne’s appetite for life expresses itself through her work and the appreciation she exhibits for beauty in writing which is lyrical, delicate and yet at the same time earthy.

But her greatest skill is evocation, tugging at the threads and sinews that bind the mind and heart.

“[In Heyer’s novels], There’s this idea that if you are honest and open and kind, then you are never really going to fall foul of the people who matter.”

“A lot of the time even fantasy historical seems to have women in very subservient, very passive, very restricted roles. Whereas Heyer’s heroines don’t seem to have this. They’re always either climbing out of windows or buying monkeys for people without permission, or setting people on fire in cellars…they’re out of control, I love that element of them.”  – Joanne Harris

Have a listen here and don’t forget to rate, recommend & review us so we can reach more podcast lovers and Heyer fanatics (& future converts!). We’re available on all good podcast players, iTunes, Spotify or Amazon Music.
Check out our latest Heyer Today episode here!
P.S.  Fancy  buying us a cup of tea? You can make a donation via our support page here.

An Aural Feast: The Nonesuch 

Comedy Writer Kate Hinksman

Turtle soup, wax baskets of prawns and atlets of palates … wondering what we’re talking about?

In our latest eagerly anticipated book club episode of Heyer Today, Sara Mae is reading The Nonesuch, (one of her favourite Heyers) with two fabulous people who have never encountered Heyer before in their sweet little lives: comedy writer Kate Hinksman and stellar cook Charlotte Nugent.

Enjoy this aural feast with us as we read: The Nonesuch.  

In our quest to indoctrinate more READERS, we’ve converted a whopping 12.5 out of 16, which we think is pretty good going.

Do you know anyone you think would like Heyer? Why not introduce them to this podcast? Remember, word of mouth really helps to get our work known to the wider world.


Charlotte Nugent

A Historical Culinary Tour

One of the dishes mentioned in this episode is ‘atlets of palates‘. Palates seems to refer to tongue, and in this case, the historical use of the phrase is the palate of an animal, esp. of a bullock, as an item of food.

Taking a little historical tour with this word, we find in the 1747 ‘Art of Cookery’ by H. Glasse, “After boiling your Palates very tender..blanch them and scrape them clean.” In 1791, J. Boswell, in ‘Life Johnson I’, quoted Johnson as saying “I remember, when he was in Scotland, his praising ‘Gordon’s palates’ (a dish of palates at the Honourable Alexander Gordon’s) with a warmth of expression which might have done honour to more important subjects.”

And here is the Mock Turtle soup recipe also mentioned on the podcast (sans endangered turtles or eyeballs! )

 We couldn’t find a recipe for Beef ala Mantua, but again, the Jane Austen website has provided us with this recipe for Regency fave, Beef ragout: A Ragout of Beef.

Have a listen here and don’t forget to rate, recommend & review us so we can reach more future Heyerites and book & podcast lovers! We’re available on all good podcast players, iTunes, Spotify or Amazon Music.

Heyer in the Spotlight: Adapting her Work for Stage

Christina Calvitt
In this week’s hot new Heyer Today episode, Sara-Mae chats with playwright Christina Calvit and director Dorothy Milne, who worked together on the acclaimed Heyer adaptations of The Talisman Ring, Pistols for Two, Cotillion and Sylvester at Chicago’s Lifeline Theatre.

Both women have been showered in awards, so they were well equipped to tackle Heyer’s books. Join us as we chat about our favourite Heyers, how Heyer’s dialogue lends itself to the visual medium, which other novels they’d love to adapt, and why they think Heyer’s work has been misunderstood over the years. 

The theatre has a distinguished record of literary adaptations, including some Austen novels, so when we heard about Dorothy and Christina’s version of Sylvester, we were absolutely gutted we wouldn’t be able to see it.

Oh, and in this episode we also asked the delightful Kathy Skok, a fan from the Heyer Facebook group, for her review of The Talisman Ring play. She got to see a production based on Christina and Dorothy’s adaptation.

Have a listen here and don’t forget to rate, recommend & review us! We’re available on all good podcast players, iTunes, Spotify or Amazon Music.
Dorothy Milne

Latest Reviews


 

Want to join other Heyerites at an exciting event tomorrow?  

My Poor Devil: 100 years of Georgette Heyer’s ‘The Black Moth’

A conference celebrating and discussing the work of Georgette Heyer hosted by Romancing the Gothic

Sat, 20 November 2021, 09:30 – 21:30 GMT

 (video recordings available for those who cannot make it live!) 

This conference seeks to mark the centenary of Heyer’s first published novel. The conference brings together a range of perspectives and disciplines to explore Heyer. It will also include a number of (optionally) interactive events – including workshops on 18th century fashion, lessons in Georgian dancing and a quiz with generously donated prizes!

Featuring keynote speaker Jennifer Kloester (Heyer’s biographer) and authors K J Charles, Zen Cho, Rose Lerner, Cat Sebastian and Olivia Waite for our closing roundtable panel on ‘Queering Heyer’ – exploring the Regency beyond Heyer’s influential and meticulously created Regency world.

Find out more and register here!
We hope you’re enjoying Heyer Today! Remember to help us spread the word so we can reach more Heyer fans, old and new!
Listen to our newest Heyer Today episode here!
P.S.  Fancy  buying us a cup of tea? You can make a donation via our support page here.

HEYER TODAY, EPISODE 10: THE QUIET GENTLEMAN WITH DON PATMORE & TALITHA GAMEROFF

Listen to this episode here.

Also available on any good podplayer, iTunes, Spotify or Amazon Music.

Don’t forget to rate, review and recommend us!

Previously on Heyer Today:

PETER BUCKMAN: Since we took on the agency to represent her 13-14 years ago, we have been trying to get executives interested to produce her work. And there are several people, who claim to be great fans, it is the controllers of drama who have not gone ahead, with various excuses.

ANDY PATERSON: We’ve cast Jessie Buckley. Because she has that kind of extraordinary… She is so full of life. And when you meet her,and when you see her on the stage, she is just breath[taking]. And I think we fell in love with her, she was Sophy. I’m a Producer so you must forgive the hype sometimes, but I haven’t had that feeling that we had about Jessie, since Scarlet Johanson walked into audition for Girl with a Pearl Earring, when she was unknown.

STEPHEN FRY: Fine, I’m very happy to go and see it, that’s the most important thing, isn’t it? We must support so it gives rise to others.

SARA-MAE: Welcome back to Heyer Today, the podcast series, in which we spend our time, investigating the life and work of one of Britain’s most under-appreciated authors. Am I a Georgette Heyer obsessive? Well, perhaps I wasn’t when I started on this journey four years ago, but I think creating a 25-episode podcast series definitely qualifies me as being, at least mildly doo-lally about her. And yes, that is the medical term for my condition.

This is one of our bi-weekly book club episodes, so if you haven’t read the book The Quiet Gentleman, I recommend you stop the pod, and go and borrow it from the library, or listen to Audible’s awesome version  https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/The-Quiet-Gentleman-Audiobook/B004FTBIIA read by Cornelius Garrett. Otherwise, you can go ahead and listen to see if you like the sound of the book.

As usual we’ve got a juicy historical crash course covering Heyers life at the time she wrote the book. Plus, some fab audio drama. I’m also excited to introduce Sarah Golding playing the role of older Heyer, from here, until the end of the series, look out for her in a scene with the marvellous John Grayson. But who am I blessing with an introduction to Heyer’s work today? It’s only comedian Don Patmore and my cousin Talitha Gamaroff. I can’t wait to see what they think, but first, here’s Mike to tell us about the secret world of Georgette Heyer.

MIKE: London after the war is a bombsite – literally. When The Quiet Gentleman is published in 1951, the City is still full of damaged buildings and debris, some replaced by temporary prefab housing.

The face of the nation is changing. Labour is in power for the first time in 20 years.

In 1948 – the SS Empire Windrush docks at Tilbury and the  Commonwealth immigration begins with 500 or so Caribbean immigrants.

This is followed closely by the advent of the National Health Service.

In July 1948 the Olympic Games are held at Wembley Stadium (excluding competitors from Japan and Germany for reasons obvious at the time).

Locked away in her Albany apartment, bashing away at her new typewriter, no doubt this great celebration of sport registered as not much more than a tiny blip for Georgette.

She was too busy doing battle with Barbara Cartland, after a slew of blatant plagiarism in the first year of the new decade. (Besides, I think the later Festival of Britain in 1951 would have been more Georgette’s style.)

The post-war lead-up to The Quiet Gentleman’s publication is one fraught with frustration over austerity, too much regulation and high taxes – something Georgette would relate to – all themes brilliantly portrayed by George Orwell in his dystopian masterpiece, 1984, published in June 1949.

Orwell was just a year younger that Georgette – but how different their worlds must have been. Inspired by Jack London’s People of the Abyss, Orwell had famously done his literary research – not in a library or by burying his head in a scrapbook of clippings – but by living in the slums of London and Paris.

And while Orwell and Georgette no doubt had literary friends and common – JB Priestly is on Orwell’s famous list of ‘crypto communists and fellow travellers’ – I can’t see Orwell at any Albany soirees.

Although, I’m sure Georgette would agree with Orwell’s inclusion of his tax inspector as another type who potentially threatened English culture – because these two very different authors shared a constant fear of receiving demands from the Inland Revenue – or ‘the SHARKS’ as Georgette called them – and an unfortunate knack for choosing less-than-satisfactory accountants to look after their financial affairs.

They also had one major common denominator – they shared the same literary agent – LP Moore. Leonard Parker Moore, partner at Christy & Moore, was a former journalist and first world war veteran.

He was a lieutenant with the Artists Rifles – a London regiment of the British Army Reserve made up of artists – including writers, musicians, actors, and painters. This is surely where he made the artistic contacts that would become so valuable to him in his future career.

He seemed to have wide-ranging interests and was a great champion for Orwell – in fact, it is in a letter to LP that Eric Blair (then earning his main wage as a school teacher) first suggests the pseudonym ‘George Orwell’, running it past his new trusted confidante with a handful of other suggestions.

Christy & Moore’s clients illustrate the agency’s mix of enthusiasms. As well as representing Georgette and Orwell, the agency works with travel writers like Marco Pallis, historic novelists like Georgette’s friend Carola Oman, journalists Jane Mander and Gareth Jones, and other Romance authors, Ruby M Ayers and Catherine Cookson.

Christy & Moore show an enterprising spirit. The Royal Geographical Society archives hold a letter of 1921 from LP to the Secretary of the Mount Everest Committee, pitching to act as negotiators with editors and publishers for work resulting from the Everest Expeditions. (Their proposal is unfortunately rejected two days later.)

As we’ve discussed in previous episodes, LP was Georgette’s agent from her first novel, The Black Moth. We can thank LP for his meticulous work ethic and respect for his authors.

His vast files of well-kept letters provided Georgette’s two biographers with a huge amount of information – and a veritable cash cow for Orwell’s estate: there were around 500 letters preserved from the author – many sold at auction in later years.

And, of course, many written by Georgette, keeping LP up to date on daily domestics, Richard’s accomplishments, as well as ideas for making more money from her works.

Since her father died, LP was somewhat a father figure … and surely a trusted adviser and supporter. Nevertheless, she became dissatisfied with the agency.

And LP was getting old. His dedication to securing her regular deals with the Americans had, frankly, slipped. And so, having decided to deal directly with the US publishers herself, Georgette felt that she could cut out the middle man.

In April of 1951, she screwed her courage to the sticking place and gave LP his notice. She was going to dispense with his agency’s services.

[Audio drama segment]

NARRATOR:

Georgette walks into LP’s office, muffled up in a thick fur coat. Moore smiles gently and gestures for Georgette to sit down. She shifts a large pile of books and papers from the leather chair facing him and takes a seat.

[Old LP player with gramophone horn plays scratchy classical music in the background]

MOORE: 

Ah, Georgette. Hello, my dear, and how are you? How’s young Richard?

GEORGETTE:

He’s well. [Shortly. She wants to get this interview over with.] He’s at eighteen now. It…it seems like yesterday he was only a baby and now its all gangly limbs and off-colour jokes. We were standing in line to see a performance of As You Like It once and when he saw the throng of people he said, “You’d think it was the second crucifixion!” 

[Laughs nervously]

MOORE: 

[Pause – he doesn’t get the joke] That’s er, very good. Is there something I can–?

GEORGETTE

[Blurts] I…I want to cut it off. Our association.

MOORE:

[Staggered] Cut off…? But my dear, it’s been…it’s been 36 years. I promised your father...

GEORGETTE:

It hasn’t been working for a long time, you know that. 

MOORE:

[A little stiffly] If my service has been less than satisfactory, let’s talk about it. You know I’ve only ever sought the best for you.

GEORGETTE:

[Tightly] I know.

MOORE:

Well, then. We’ll soon sort this out. Has there been a particularly bad tax bill of late? You always worry too much about these things. Let me find you a commission and we’ll soon take care of…any unpleasantness.

Come, we can go to The Empress for lunch and see if we can’t change your mind, my dear.

NARRATOR:

He reaches for his coat.

MOORE:

A nice spot of tea and a—

GEORGETTE

[Rather harshly because she feels bad]

Do you really think tea is going to help? You have no idea…can’t you understand…? No, it’s clear you can’t, and there’s no point trying to make you – it would just be upsetting to us both. When you’ve known a man of your age since you were nineteen and he still looks on you as a struggling young author, the situation is apt to be difficult. Having enjoyed the disadvantage of an upbringing, I cannot be rude to old men.

Don’t make me be more explicit. I’ll…I’ll have the papers sent over to you.

NARRATOR:

Georgette stalks out of the room, [slamming door sound, jolts the record player which starts to jump]. Moore sits at his desk, then leans back tiredly in his chair, rubbing his eyes.

[HISTORICAL SEGMENT CONTINUES…]

MIKE: Georgette was confident she could do everything herself – with Ronald’s assistance of course – he was still helping out on the detective stories. But as it turns out, she would need three people to replace LP.

There was John Smith – fresh junior partner at Christy & Moore – for play options; Louisa Callender at Heinemann for general rights; and – after an introductory luncheon at The Ivy – Joyce Weiner for foreign and short story rights.

It was John Smith who would negotiate stage rights for The Grand Sophy, and a BBC radio version of The Corinthian.

Yet, LP had acted with Georgette’s best interests at heart. He had negotiated many good deals for her in contracts and royalties. Georgette was soon to find out (after signing with Heinemann in June 1952) that these valuable payments would soon be reduced.

Georgette may have finally had an inkling about just how much she had lost. It wasn’t long before her correspondence with Smith included ‘I hope you and LP are both well. Give him my love, please’.

However, The Quiet Gentleman was Christy & Moore’s last source of commission income from the works of Georgette Heyer. And Georgette found that, from now on, she would have to read all her new contracts very carefully indeed.

In September 1950, The Grand Sophy becomes an instant best-seller.

On the family front, Georgette must have been thrilled that Richard had been voted ‘finest head of house in years’ at his school in Marlborough. And he’d been awarded an ‘exhibition’, or scholarship, to Pembroke College at Cambridge.

He deferred to complete his national service with the 2nd battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps – a right royal connection to Harry Smith in Georgette’s Spanish Bride!

For George Orwell, famously wounded during the Spanish Civil War, there would be no more struggles in his harsh life. He died after a string of health problems early in 1950.

As for LP, while there would be many more literary skirmishes to attend to, he would pass away by the end of the decade [he dies in 1959].

After the post-war period of Labour leadership, Winston Churchill is given a second chance and is re-elected in 1951 – prime minister again at the age of 76 – a victory perhaps fuelled by people’s concerns about conflict in Korea, and the Cold War.

Georgette’s readers are as voracious as ever. Frere reports that her Antipodean fans are begging for more Heyer! The Quiet Gentleman, her 38th novel, outruns the popular Grand Sophy selling out its first print run of 50,000 copies.

How readers must have relished its sunny springtime setting. After a long war – the Battle of Waterloo – the 7th Earl of St Erth returns home to claim his inheritance … 

SARA-MAE: And now for our book club section. Last time we had one convert and one imbecile. Just kidding. But it was an uphill battle for my mate Rob who rarely reads fiction, never mind Regency romance. Overall, I’ve got three converts and three non-converts 50:50. Let’s see what happens this week. As we read The Quiet Gentleman.

SARA-MAE: Hello Dom Patmore, how are you today?

DOM: Very well thank you, Sara, how are you?

SARA-MAE: I’m good. I’m sorry about this enforced intimacy we’re having.

DOM:  That’s OK, I feel like we are in the battlefield… of sound.

SARA-MAE:   Indeed, just like Gervase.

DOM:  Exactly yes!

SARA-MAE:   Who are you?

DOM:  This is a very good question, how much time do we have? I call myself now a corporate misfit for various reasons, I teach technical courses, to adults of all ages. I also do stand up and I am a competitive powerlifter.

SARA-MAE:   All very interesting facts about yourself, Dom, especially the competitive powerlifter. Does that involving like, pulling a car with your teeth?

DOM:  Competitive powerlifting is, you squat, you’re benching, deadlifting…

SARA-MAE:   Do you imagine that our characters, the heroes and the gentlemen in this book, which is set in the Regency period, do you reckon these guys would have been powerlifting?

DOM:  I feel like maybe? The younger brother might fancy himself as a powerlifter. But definitely not Gervase. I mean, he is much better with a rapier, I would say. But he’s no powerlifter. He’s probably been to a powerlifting show. But they used to call it the ‘old-timey strongman’ shows.

SARA-MAE:   (Laughs) Yes, because when you’re in the old timey strongman show, you refer to it as that, not the ‘now’ timey.

DOM:  It’s like a fourth wall, you’re aware you’re doing it, so it’s like a cool thing.

SARA-MAE:   Here is my cousin, Talitha.

TALITHA:        Hi. I work at an advertising agency as a day job. And I’m a yoga teacher.

SARA-MAE:   And have you ever read any Georgette Heyer before?

TALITHA:        No.

DOM:  You asked me and I said what? “I’ll get it from the library.” Turns out it was not at the library.

SARA-MAE:    What?!

DOM:  So, this was the first book I had to read on the Kindle.

SARA-MAE:   So, this is not your genre at all?

DOM:  This is not.

SARA-MAE:   You’ve never delved into this? Wow. I’ve got quite a challenge because, as you obviously are aware, I’ve been trying to convert people to loving her work?

DOM:  Yup and I’m up for challenge. As a competitive powerlifter that is what we do!

TALITHA:        Well, I love Jane Austen and I love period dramas but I haven’t read anything other than Jane Austen for a long time. In terms of period drama. I don’t think. I would definitely read it, pick it up on a weekend away, wanting something to pass the time.

SARA-MAE:   Let’s start with the plot.

TALITHA:        So, it’s called The Quiet Gentleman. It’s about a young man who has inherited some property from his father, and he has come back from many years in the army. To lay claim to his rambling mansion. He finds his relatives and acquaintances in the house, where dramatic events unfold.

SARA-MAE:   And when you say dramatic events, unlike her other Regency love stories, which are quite sort of, light and frothy, and mainly about the romance, there is a thriller element to this.

TALITHA:        Yes. It’s a whodunnit! Or who is doing it. Or who wants to do it?

(laughter)

SARA-MAE:   So, let’s delve into the story a little bit more. When this chap, the main character, what’s his name?

TALITHA:        His name is Lord St Erth.

SARA-MAE:   Gervase. He arrives back from the war in the Peninsula. And his relatives… it would be fair to say they were not precisely welcoming when he arrives back?

TALITHA:        No. So, he arrives back to find his stepmother, and half-brother living in the house.

SARA-MAE:   It’s all about how he’s become estranged from this family of his. Because his dad’s first wife ran off with somebody. He and his father never got on. But he is the heir to all these lands and estates.

DOM:  Yes.

SARA-MAE:   He is quite interesting as a hero, because her usual heroes are quite proud. This guy has a deceptively gentle air about him, doesn’t he? Everyone underestimates him because he’s so sweet natured. They keep describing him as docile.

TALITHA:        This is why they call him The Quiet Gentleman, and I wouldn’t say he’s quiet. I would say that he’s self-assured. He doesn’t speak when he doesn’t need to. He listens and observes. He’ll make his point known, he isn’t timid or anything.

He observes all these crazy things around him and takes it all on the chin and has a self-assurance. He’s saying, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m here.”

SARA-MAE:   Deal with it.

SARA-MAE:   So, he went off to war, not really knowing this bunch of people.

DOM:  I also liked the fact that all these people, are all very clear, “we didn’t think you’d come back”.

SARA-MAE:   They are bald-facedly going, “You know, no one expected you to come back. Lots of people die in the war.”

DOM:  Yeah.

SARA-MAE:   Couldn’t you have died in the war?!

SARA-MAE:   We are introduced to them in this big drafty place – that was funny. They describe this horrible castle, full of draughts. It’s like, they’re all freezing cold, waiting in this grand hall, for him to appear.

DOM:  Yup. They resent him coming. [And] there’s a lot of characters.

SARA-MAE:   Well, there’s Martin.

TALITHA:        Martin was a spoilt child who was probably loved more by his father than [Gervase] was. They are half-brothers. The father felt that Martin took after him more, and was more loving to him.

SARA-MAE:   There was scandal too…

TALITHA:        There was. He didn’t think much of his mother, she ran off with someone else, never to be seen or heard from again. And [she] was disowned from their lives. And Lord St. Erth [looks like] his mother, so they’re all scandalised by his very presence, and exclude him from everything. Martin is the spoilt one, he wears the family ring. [Gervase’s stepmum, the Dowager] just assumed he would inherit everything and Martin can’t stand this, he’s a spoilt brat. He’s quite sporty, tall and big, kind of dashing, but in a spoilt way. And young. He’s full of beans.

SARA-MAE:   And a sense of his own importance.

TALITHA:        Yeah, very much, and he flies off the handle at the drop of a hat, he has little girlie tantrums, all over the place. So, he can’t stand the fact that the Lord is back and looking all dandy. And having all these new clothes that no one wears in the countryside. He thinks he’s a flouncing weak-willed dandy.

SARA-MAE:   Judges him like that, doesn’t he? His character has largely been shaped by his mother. The Dowager Duchess. That’s his step-mum.

TALITHA:        Yes.

SARA-MAE:   What did you think of the Dowager? Talking about Austen, she is very close to the character of Lady Catherine de Bough, from Pride and Prejudice. She’s always talking about “my father who was the best rider to hounds, of anybody in England. You know, if he’d taught me, I would have been a brilliant rider. But of course, they didn’t so… Had I had the opportunity to learn, however…” One of those kinds of people. And she’s also just a complete bore.

DOM:  Yes.

SARA-MAE:   And has complete disinterest in whether or not anyone is interested in what she has to say.

DOM:  Yep, there’s a part further on when she insists everyone in the town would be more than happy to put on a ball in her draughty castle. And no one thinks that’s a good idea.

(laughter)

SARA-MAE:   I mean it’s not her house in the first place!

DOM:  This is true.

TALITHA:        She will just say anything that’s in her head, so in company she’ll really offend people and not realise it. She’ll be against one idea, but if anyone goes for that, then it’s all her idea. And she’ll throw a party, and everyone else will do the work. She takes all the credit. So, she is a really tough battle-axe.

SARA-MAE:   He (Gervase) ends up sort of running rings around her in a gentle way. She’s used to being the boss of everything until he comes along.

I think the whole crux of the beginning is about them having to reconcile the fact that they completely thought this stepson guy was going to die. He’s had the selfishness to come back from the war. [Laughs] So, he has this fiery younger brother who is very jealous and moody and he’s a real pain in the arse.

DOM:  Yes, he is very emo.

SARA-MAE:   He is so emo! And he is there complaining about this guy coming to steal what essentially, he’s come to believe is his birthright. And then we’ve got Theo.

DOM:  Yes.

SARA-MAE:   Another cousin who’s been running the estates, because he was an orphan. Who was taken in [by the family]. What were your impressions of Theo?

DOM:  Obviously he’s that English, quintessential, duty bound, ‘I do this and I’m very lucky, I get to be a Steward’. I almost felt like he was going to be the straight man, with the story. That everyone was going to… he was going to be the compass.

SARA-MAE:   I think you’re right! Your instinct is good. I think Gervase, when he arrives, he sees Theo as his friend. The only person who he has been in touch with. And also he recognizes that he’s been doing this phenomenal job and Gervase’s father gave him nothing in his will, pretty much. So, he’s not even recognised for all his hard work. Gervase is learning these new people, who are his family.

DOM:  So, there’s a couple of ‘incidents’ with the Dowager initially and he’s like, ‘should I change my clothes, from riding clothes?’ And there’s this initial challenge. It’s very much a reckoning between what is good for the countryside, and you have this guy who is ignorant of our customs. ‘Stanyon shall not stand for it!’  They’re throwing their weight about.

SARA-MAE:   She’s used to her word being law, isn’t she? I think he does this brilliant job, you’re exactly right, where, I don’t know how to pronounce this, but the epergne…

SARA-MAE: (FYI – epergne is an ornamental centrepiece made of wrought metal such as silver or gold.)

SARA-MAE:   Basically, it’s this hideous monstrosity, a table decoration. In one of their biggest set-tos, because [the Dowager] is very strong willed and she remembers him as being very docile and amiable. So, she reckons she’s going to stamp down her mark and he’ll toe the line. But the first thing he does as they are at this long table – there’s only like six of them – Martin is craning his neck to try and talk to someone because there’s this hideous thing [in the way], and they talk about it being like a tiger rearing. And he says ‘get rid of that, put it in a cupboard somewhere, I never want to see it again’. And of course, the duchess is very upset about that. And she says ‘no, of course it shall not be removed’. And it’s basically this battle of wills, where it becomes clear that although he’s gentle, he’s not going to give in. His will is iron. I found that dynamic really fun as well.

DOM:  Yup. I did as well. And also the way he will sometimes let her win, his military training shows up in his encounters with the Dowager, where he lets her think that she’s won.

SARA-MAE:   Yes, or that she came up with an idea. Because he knows how to strategize. It becomes clear, through the book. At first she deliberately makes us think he’s going to be a bit of a dandy, a bit effeminate. And Martin is the evil, moody one, such a stroppy teen. And we’ve got all these dynamics setup. But, then she kind of goes on to upend them. There’s also the Reverend Clowne, was a great name!

[Dom laughs]

SARA-MAE:   He’s there, he’s like this sycophantic fanboy of the Dowager, he laughs at all her bad jokes. And then we’ve got the other main character, who is our heroine. Drusilla.

DOM:  Yes, who kinda sits in the background for quite a long time. It’s interesting you mentioned the Clowne because you kind of think his job is basically to keep the Dowager occupied at dinnertime.

SARA-MAE:   He is the cannon fodder, sort of, throw him to the wolves. So, [the family] don’t have to be bored by her stories. But Drusilla… when I first read the book I was like ‘oh, this isn’t the heroine, is it?’ Gervase is very dismissive of her. He describes her as plain.

DOM:  Actually, he thinks, ‘oh she would be good for Theo’. It’s like, ‘Oh Theo is also boring. Put boring people together’. [laugher]

SARA-MAE:   With Theo, one of the cruxes of his character arc is he’s also in love with the beauty of the neighbourhood. We’ll get to later – Marianne. Who all they guys fall in love with, because she is lovely and sweet, she is a nice person and she is beautiful. But Drusilla is very, um, commonsensical.

DOM:  Yes.

SARA-MAE:   And she deplores that in herself. Later in the book, she talks about how she wishes she could swoon. One of those people who is actually a wonderful person to have around, because she knows how to organise balls. You won’t catch the Dowager doing the hard work. And you get the feeling, she’s very smart, and it becomes clear that throughout the book, I don’t know if you felt this way, that there’s so much more to her than meets the eye. But in the beginning, I mean, there were times when some of the stuff they say about her…!

DOM:  It’s quite dismissive. You almost felt like they went out of their way to like, put her down. And even when the Dowager is with Drusilla, she’s like, ‘oh she’s my friend, she’s not much to look at but, you know, she keeps me company’. I actually thought that was like – oh, is this a different kind of relationship that we’re going to explore? You’re right, Drusilla gets this sort of, knitting in a corner next to the draught, trying to keep warm.

SARA-MAE:   There’s none of the coded language you usually expect when setting up a heroine. Like, ‘she is stunningly beautiful and yet for some reason no one noticed her’, you know.

DOM:  She has haunted eyes!

SARA-MAE:   I thought what Heyer does is quite clever both with Theo and Drusilla in that she completely, by the end of the book, subverts your expectations of what is happening with these characters, and what you are supposed to expect. I quite enjoyed that, actually. Because I mean, this is how they described her: “Her countenance was pleasing without being beautiful, her best feature being a pair of dark eyes, well opened and straight gazing. Her figure was trim but sadly lacking in height and she was rather short necked.” (DOM: laughs) “She employed no arts to attract, the Earl thought her dull.” So, this is where you get your first impression of the two, the romantic couple.

SARA-MAE:  One of the great things about Drusilla Morville’s character is her candidness and her clear-eyed way of looking at things. When Gervase, the Duke, and she finally have a proper conversation, we get our first glimpse of what an interesting person she is. Even sparking Gervase’s interest, in spite of her short neck!

Here is Cornelious Garrett with an extract from the Audible audiobook:

“I see that you think I have been guilty of presumption!” It was now his turn to redden. He said: “I assure you, ma’am, you are mistaken!” “Well, I don’t suppose that I am, for I expect you are used to be toad-eaten, on account of your high rank,” replied Drusilla frankly. “I should have explained to you that I have no very great opinion of Earls.”

Rising nobly to the occasion, he replied with scarcely a moment’s hesitation: “Yes, I think you should have explained that!” “You see, I am the daughter of Hervey Morville,” disclosed Drusilla. She added, with all the air of one throwing in a doubler: “And of Cordelia Consett!”

The Earl could think of nothing better to say than that he was a little acquainted with a Sir James Morville, who was a member of White’s Club. “My uncle,” acknowledged Drusilla. “He is a very worthy man, but not, of course, the equal of my Papa!”

“Of course not!” agreed Gervase. “I daresay,” said Drusilla kindly, “that, from the circumstance of your military occupation, you have not had the leisure to read any of Papa’s works, so I should tell you that he is a Philosophical Historian. He is at the moment engaged in writing a History of the French Revolution.” “From a Republican point-of-view, I collect?”

“Yes, certainly, which makes it sometimes a great labour, for it would be foolish to suppose that his opinions have undergone no change since he first commenced author. That,” said Drusilla, “was before I was born. “Oh, yes?” said Gervase politely.

“In those days, you may say that he was as ardent a disciple of Priestley as poor Mr. Coleridge, whom he knew intimately when a very young man. In fact, Papa was a Pantisocrat.” “A—?”

She obligingly repeated it. “They were a society of whom the most prominent members were Mr. Coleridge, and Mr. Southey, and my Papa. They formed the intention of emigrating to the banks of the Susquehanna, but, fortunately, neither Mrs. Southey nor Mama considered the scheme practicable, so it was abandoned. I daresay you may have noticed that persons of large intellect have not the least common-sense. In this instance, it was intended that there should be no servants, but everyone should devote himself—or herself, as the case might be—for two hours each day to the performance of the necessary domestic duties, after which the rest of the day was to have been occupied in literary pursuits. But, of course, Mama and Mrs. Southey readily perceived that although the gentlemen might adhere to the two-hour-rule, it would be quite impossible for the ladies to do so.  In fact,  Mama  was  of  the  opinion  that  although  the  gentlemen  might  be  induced,  if  strongly adjured, to draw water, and to chop the necessary wood, they would certainly have done no more. And no one,” continued Miss Morville, with considerable acumen, “could have placed the least reliance on their Continued performance of such household tasks, for, you know, if they had been engaged in philosophical discussion, they would have forgotten all about them.”

“I conclude,” said Gervase, a good deal amused, “that your Mama is of a practical disposition?”

“Oh, no!” replied Miss Morville serenely. “That is why she did not wish to form one of the colony. She has no turn for domestic duties; Mama is an Authoress. She has written several novels, and numerous articles and treatises. She was used to be a friend of Mrs. Godwin’s—the

First Mrs. Godwin, I should explain—and she holds views, which are thought to be very advanced, on Female Education.”

“And have you been reared according to these views?” enquired Gervase, in some misgiving. “No, for Mama has been so fully occupied in prescribing for the education of females in general that naturally she has had little time to spare for her own children.  Moreover, she is  a  person  of  excellent  sense,  and,  mortifying  though  it  has  been  to  her,  she  has  not  hesitated  to acknowledge that neither I nor my elder brother is in the least bookish.” “A blow!” commented the Earl. “Yes, but  she  has  sustained  it  with  fortitude.”

TALITHA:        She is just so sweet, and clever and interesting, and she ingratiates herself with absolutely everybody, including him. And they become quite close friends.

SARA-MAE:   Well also because, with the dramatic events that happen, if there had been a young lady who was there who was full of romantic notions, and fainting at the drop of a hat, or shrieking at the top of her lungs when something scary happens… there are many times when actually it could have caused him considerable danger. And in fact she saves his life on a couple of occasions, because of her quick thinking, her calmness and her sensible nature.

SARA-MAE:   The whole of the rest of the book, what starts happening is Gervase, starts having attempts made on his life, right?

DOM:  No, no. Before the attempts, we talk about the horses. Then he goes for a drive and encounters the beauty of the village. Her name being Marianne Bolderwood.  By a stream, she’s hanging out.

SARA-MAE:   She’s taken a tumble.

DOM:  But she doesn’t say she’s taken a tumble, and I like this. He goes and brings her to her feet. Apparently, her horse has run off. [Quotes book] ‘Her movements, though impetuous, were graceful. And the Earl was permitted a glimpse of a neatly turned ankle.’

SARA-MAE:   Oh yeah! Some neatly turned ankle! Phew. he’s going to have to take a dip in that cold stream. 
TALITHA:        She is very, very flirtatious. She’s quite young and quite an innocent little flower. She gives all these men lots of attention without knowing what an impact it’s having on them.

DOM:  And you know she’s worth £100,000.

SARA-MAE:   I’m going to guess, but it must be like £5 million?

DOM:  Yup, she’s a multi-millionaire.

SARA-MAE:   Martin isn’t happy about Gervase moving in on Marianne, as he’s been in love with her since childhood. As with the estate, he’s come to view her as his ‘property’.

TALITHA:        He just can’t stand the fact that not only has [Gervase] come to take over his estate but now he’s getting all the attention of the females, as well.

SARA-MAE:   But also, Gervase’s presence means that the Stanyon estate, [which] he’s been brought up to believe is his… he assumed he’d be the one to inherit and therefore, he’ll make a good match for this girl. Whereas, as soon as Gervase is there, not only is he an incredibly handsome and lovely person who seems to endear himself to everyone he meets, but he’s now the Earl. Whereas he, Martin, doesn’t really have much to bring to a marriage situation.

TALITHA:        Yeah. That’s the dynamic, so Martin has grown up so spoiled, believing the Earl will die in the war. And then he’ll be Lord St. Erth and ‘get the girl’. And here, it all comes crashing down as soon as he arrives back. And he’s really gorgeous and stoic and all the qualities a dreamy hero would be, in one of these novels.

DOM:  So, it’s weird that we start to realise [Marianne] is basically courted by everyone in the village. This is the part I enjoyed very much, this talk about being removed to London to be ‘presented’.

SARA-MAE:   Yes, for the ‘season’. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, all the young girls when they hit whatever age it was, 17, 18, would go for a season and visit all the balls and go to Almacks, this very fancy specific ball. And you couldn’t just rock up, you had to have a voucher. Given by the leaders of society, the creme de la creme of society.

DOM: Wow. Martin seems to be the first in line? Given the fact he has this heritage, the Dowager is very well known… I guess in terms of standing, he is most likely to be paired off with her.

SARA-MAE:   Yes, and  they’ve known each other since they were children. He feels like he’s got a head start, doesn’t he?

DOM:  Yes, so when he encounters Gervase being there it riles him up. At that point, the first attempt [on Gervase’s life] happens.

SARA-MAE:   It’s immediately after this, because Martin comes across them as Gervase does Marianne the favour of letting her ride his horse. There’s this little piece of strategy that is quite good, where he’s leading his horse, with Marianne on the horse, and then when Martin comes, he wants to get the upper hand. [Martin insists she ride his horse] so, she gets on Martin’s horse and then [Gervase and Marianne] can chat as they are both riding.

DOM:  And Martin is out of the conversation and more infuriated. And it’s like, when they first square off, in the barn…

SARA-MAE:   No, I think it’s the room where they keep all the weapons. Gervase is cleaning his guns and Martin walks in.

DOM:  And Martin comes in and challenges him. ‘What are you doing with Marianne?!’ In my head, there’s this old school ‘80s confrontation that develops. ‘What are you doing with her, she’s my girl!’ And Gervase is like, ‘no one’s called her, she can choose anyone she wants’. They basically square off with rapiers.

SARA-MAE:   Yes!

DOM:  They go at it, and Martin believes he’s good, he’s been taught well. [Yet] Gervase puts him to shame, without breaking a sweat. Martin is flushed, then something interesting happens… The button on the rapier – the top that stops it being deadly – comes off. They don’t recognise it immediately.

TALITHA:        Martin feels like he can’t beat him, but he carries on. Until Theo and Drusilla walk in and say ‘stop it, what are you doing?’ Martin drops the sword, feels really sheepish about it.

SARA-MAE:   But what’s interesting is, in the course of the fight, Heyer talks about what Gervase is thinking and he does say something to piss off Martin more. He can’t help it, because Martin is being such a dick.

[Laughter]

SARA-MAE:   And Martin is like, ‘well I didn’t stand a chance against you, so it wasn’t like I was endangering your life because you’re so much better than me’. He flounces off. He’s always flouncing off.

DOM: He is constantly flouncing. ‘I’m going to my room!’ Outside. Storming off.

SARA-MAE:   He is quite young, a spoilt brat.

DOM:  How would you feel if you’d been told ‘Hey, you own all this stuff. It’s yours’ and you’re like, ‘cool’. Then someone says soz…

SARA-MAE:   But he did know [he might not inherit]. It’s like his parents lead him to believe, but he knew in his head but not his heart.  So anyway, Drusilla rocks up, she stops the fight by saying ‘what the heck are you doing?’ Theo comes in and Theo always, throughout the book is like ‘oh, he could have killed you, please be careful around Martin!’ He’ll do this thing where he says, ‘listen, I don’t think he would hurt you but… be careful.’

DOM:  It started with Theo, the second attempt. 

TALITHA:        So, he sets off to town with [Theo] and there’s been a storm.

SARA-MAE:   Theo’s the guy who’s been running the estate and [Gervase] has a very warm feeling towards Theo because he’s the only bloody one of this family that has seen him, kept in touch consistently over the years.

TALITHA:        Yeah, I think he’s just been welcoming and warm, a friend to him. He trusts him, they go on this trip to town, there’s been a storm the night before so there’s a big river flowing underneath the bridge. So, he races towards the bridge, just before he steps on the bridge, Theo shouts ‘there’s something wrong with the bridge. And his horse starts acting strangely.’

SARA-MAE:   The horse is shying away.

TALITHA:        Then they realise one of the pillars of the bridge has almost completely broken away. And what they don’t at the time realise, is that Martin sent someone to fix the bridge, so he had known about the bridge being broken. [This was] before they set out. But he didn’t warn them. So this is another example of…

SARA-MAE:   He knew they were going…

TALITHA:        I guess there’s now the sense that, okay there’s a lot of coincidences happening, where someone is out to get him. And his eyes are on his brother, because he’s so hostile.

DOM:  And Gervase starts beginning to think that maybe Martin is taking this too far. And Theo’s going ‘oh he wouldn’t do that’.

SARA-MAE:   Gervase is sort of like, ‘well, I can see that he probably did want me to fall in’.

DOM:  Yeah.

SARA-MAE:   #Imighthavedied

DOM:  Could have been horrible. Of course, Theo is going ‘no, no, Martin’s headstrong, but he wouldn’t try to kill you. Definitely wouldn’t do that’.

SARA-MAE:   He’s like the advocate for Martin. Just a generally really nice guy beavering away, on Gervase’s behalf.

DOM:  He’s a man’s man. He’s just there, wants to help out, he’s so glad his bro has come back. And actually he’s like, ‘hey you got some real estate to take care of. Focus on that’.

SARA-MAE:   They actually say in the beginning that Gervase’s dad had run it into the ground a bit, and through Theo’s hard work it had become profitable again. So, he’s been a great cousin. But even Theo’s well-intentioned doubts about [Martin’s] guilt, doesn’t ease Gervase’s suspicions.

SARA-MAE:   Soon there is a second attempt on his life.

TALITHA:        So, he’s getting more and more wound up, more tantrums [from Martin] and it comes to a head when they organise a big ball at the house.

SARA-MAE:   Ulverston turns up as well.

TALITHA:        Ulverston is a friend of St. Erth.

SARA-MAE:   Lucius Ulverston, His army buddy, what did you make of him?

DOM:  When he first arrives, oh, so this is going to be very interesting dynamic because you have almost the opposite to Gervase, they were both military, but you think if Gervase would be Air Force, Ulverston was a Navy Seal. Down and dirty, this is what we army people do. Ulverston is still very proper, retired and whatnot, but, you see his strategy with the Dowager.

SARA-MAE:   He’s shorter than the Frants. But yeah, he’s a real charmer. In fact, when it comes to Marianne, Gervase and Martin are cast into the shade. This guy must have some real charisma going on!

DOM:  That was something very interesting because we don’t get that till we get to the ball, but you get the sense that he is just there and hanging out, and they have a moment when they both lock eyes. Gervase acknowledges the fact, they never talk about it.

SARA-MAE:   ‘You like her, I like her’. It’s an honour thing no one mentions, but interesting, because Martin is completely oblivious to this.

TALITHA:        So, there’s another person who is vying for the attentions of Marianne. Who can’t help being so flirtatious, and giving her attention to all these dashing men. Martin is almost beside himself, knowing she’s basically slipped from his grasp. Then it all comes to a head, where they have a ball, where Gervase says ‘let’s have a ball!’ – basically to impress this girl.

DOM:  Interestingly, there’s this whole dialogue, when Marianne’s been invited, her mother has a strong rule, ‘thou shalt not waltz’.

SARA-MAE:   Don’t you dare waltz!

DOM: You haven’t been presented, don’t go waltzing!

SARA-MAE:   You might as well rip your skirt up and show everyone your ankles.

DOM:  Your calf.

SARA-MAE:   Don’t even say the c-word.

[Laughter]

SARA-MAE:   Drusilla is the one who pretty much organises the whole thing.

TALITHA:        She gets dumped with the actual nuts and bolts of the whole thing. [She’s] the practical and kind one.

SARA-MAE:   The Dowager is quite willing to take all the credit, [but] she doesn’t end up doing anything useful.

TALITHA:        She flounces around taking all the credit, for everything, being the hostess. But it’s a funny dynamic. All these, very select people, who’ve been invited, it’s very political, who dances with who, and who pays attention to who. And Marianne is swept away with Ulverston, who is Gervase’s army friend, very dashing as well. And Martin backs Marianne into a corner, when her dress tears, declares his love, and tries to kiss her. And she can’t believe it. She’s so funny and innocent. ‘Had no idea all my flirtations would lead to this’.

DOM:  Even as a teenager this has to be the most awkward… This must be awful. You want the floor to swallow you. You told the person you had feelings for [and she’s like] ‘I like you but not like that’. Then your brother, who is prettier than you comes in and tells you off. Then your sister comes in. telling you off. We’ve all been there.

SARA-MAE:   That’s the weird thing, he is a huge pain in the neck, but you do feel sorry for him at points. Because he is a bit of an idiot. He has no sense of humour about himself. No ability to be a good sport, he makes things harder for himself.

DOM:  As we will find out later on.

SARA-MAE:   Exactly. Yeah. Martin is still hung up on making an ass of himself at the ball.

DOM:  So, it’s awkward the next day. Eventually her parents send for her back.

SARA-MAE:   It was really awkward between her and Martin. And she gets closer to Ulverston.

DOM:  [Ulverston and Marianne] play on a piano. He offers to drive her home to Wissenhirst. And it transpires that Ulverston wants to make an offer.

SARA-MAE:   Martin doesn’t know this. We, the readers do, because Ulverston has asked her father.

DOM:  Drusilla, on reflection, is able to move in these circles with relative ease, which puts her at an advantage, allows her to stand back…

SARA-MAE:   And we see throughout that she not only organises everything behind the scenes, making sure everybody’s lives run smoothly, she is also very smart about people. She notices the Earl doing things to make people feel more comfortable, and she notices him noticing her. I think it shows that he starts to appreciate her more and more. For instance, when she finds him in a swoon, she doesn’t freak out she doesn’t panic and force him, with a head wound, to look after her. Even though she deprecates this in herself.

DOM:  I think that’s where Gervase… he’s not surface level. And I think that’s the interesting thing. You kinda go, he has the ability to notice people’s actions and motives more than just their appearance. Whereas the Dowager is very much the ‘surface level’. He starts paying [Drusilla] compliments about what she observes and notices her. Also I think, Drusilla never demurs to him?

SARA-MAE:   Defers to him.

DOM:  She challenges him, but she’s able to hold her own.

SARA-MAE:   And when he’s first almost making fun of her, of how practical she is. She’s just like, ‘yup’. And I think he likes that about her. She doesn’t as they call it, ‘toad-eat’ him.

DOM:  So, the next attempt is when Gervase is riding back. The horse trips. This is one of the very nice grey, special horses, not known for tripping.

SARA-MAE:   I like the way we are both so knowledgeable about horses, like ‘I have a really nice grey one’.

DOM:  Well, you know, I have been around a horse… once.

SARA-MAE:   The perspective shifts to Drusilla here. By the way, I love her family.

DOM:  Yes!

SARA-MAE:   Another thing I found really enjoyable about the book is that her family are these Republican intellectuals. They’re posh, in that their lineage is quite refined, they mention Coleridge and Southey, real poets, obviously. And this is a real thing, they wanted to set up this new Republican nation on the banks of a river.

SARA-MAE: The two poets, Southey and Coleridge, invented ‘Pantisocracy’ in 1794, they wanted to create an egalitarian community with a government where all rule equally, they intended to start the community in the United States on the banks of the Susquehanna river.

SARA-MAE:   Her mother who writes these books is also very practical and scotched that idea because she knew the men wouldn’t do any actual work. The men would sit around talking all day. Drusilla wishes she was an intellectual, she thinks she has no imagination. I started to warm to her, you see how kind she is. She’s visiting one of the tenants on her parents’ estate, who sprained her ankle. And on her way back, discovers Gervase face down…

DOM:  Rendered unconscious and bleeding. But before that, her mother has these idealised Republican views of ‘women should be equal’, but at the same time the mother goes, ‘but we gotta find you someone to marry’. It’s really funny.

SARA-MAE:   I really like that. It was like ‘yeah, all that stuff I write, it doesn’t apply to my family’.

DOM:  Isn’t her brother at Oxford or…?

SARA-MAE:   Yes, she’s got a few brothers. And apparently they’re all dumb.

DOM:  They are all dumb, and she’s used to having brothers fight. We get to that later on. Where she says ‘I wish [Martin and Ulverston] would just fight and get it over with’.

DOM:  But anyway, Drusilla finds Gervase [after he’s been attacked], she tends to him.

SARA-MAE:   Gives him some vinaigrette, to revive him. She’s resting his head on her lap, and this is where you see her start to become the potential heroine, how clever she is. He comes around and has no idea what happened, because he’s an amazing rider. She says ‘look over there, there’s a rope’, and it’s obvious that someone had tied the rope to a tree, and as he goes by, they pulled on the other end so that it tripped the horse. So, someone has tried to kill or severely hurt him. Again. So, Gervase says ‘let’s just say I fell’.

SARA-MAE:   And Ulverston, as soon as Gervase comes in from being injured, he’s instantly like, ‘you would never have taken a toss, you’re a brilliant rider’. [Gervase says] ‘That’s nonsense. Let’s not talk about it anymore’. But he knows.

DOM:  Ulverston picks up his jacket, draws out the cord and…

SARA-MAE:   It’s actually Turvey the valet. She always does really funny stuff with servants, like the valet is offended by what’s happened to his outfit. ‘I’m going to have to sort this out’. And he’s got Chard, this guy he brought from the army who looks after his horses, and none of them believe this story about [tripping on a] rabbit hole. So Turvey pulls out the rope from his pocket, because it was ruining the line of his jacket. But obviously Ulverston knew already that it was nonsense. And he gets it out of him. So then, Theo comes in and he is like, ‘oh god what happened?’ and there’s this whole thing about it that it must have been Martin because he was out shooting, Gervase decides not to say anything, People say ‘kick him out, send him away’. But it’s all about preventing scandal. He doesn’t want any scandal. And servants talking about it.

DOM:  He’s almost like ‘I don’t want to worry the Dowager’, I don’t want to cause a scandal. I think maybe there’s a sense that he’s new and up to this point it’s been pretty banal.

SARA-MAE:   You could write it off as pranking.

DOM:  And that’s what they are trying to do. We don’t want to draw concern from the conflict within.

DOM:  So, at some point, we have Martin going to visit Marianne again. Trying to apologise.

SARA-MAE:   Even though everyone said ‘just leave it. Let it go’.

DOM:  He tries to apologise and says ‘I love you’, and she’s like ‘no’. Ulverston is there and pulls her up. They get into a punch up. Then it’s like ‘I will see you at dawn.  It is on’. Oh wow, someone is going to die.

SARA-MAE:   Yeah, because Martin is fully like, ‘I’m going to shoot to kill’.

DOM:  And we learn Gervase is very concerned, because he says Martin is a very good shot, I read the rules for duelling.

SARA-MAE:   Ulverston should never have accepted. Like, ‘who is going to stand up? Who’s going to be my second, your brother? Obviously we can’t do this, you idiot. Stop being a fool’. Then [Martin] offers him this provocation, he slaps him. ‘And now I’m going to have to leave to avoid this ridiculous fight’.

DOM:  So, part of it is Martin tries to get Theo to stand for him and Theo is like, ‘absolutely not’.

SARA-MAE:   He asks his best friend, a funny character named Barny Warboys, who says ‘why do you keep getting in these stupid situations?!’

DOM:  And actually, that’s another interesting side character, you don’t see a lot, but they are touchpoints. Barny says ‘you can get mad at me if you want but I’m telling you this is stupid and I’m not doing it’.

SARA-MAE:   It’s really lovely because he’s a small character but he gives you so much insight into Martin. He’s completely used to this. But ‘I’m not going to do it. I don’t even know that guy’.  He’s trying to get him to act as Ulverston’s second as Ulverston can’t [duel without one].

DOM:  It’s against the rules. And actually, Barny is like, ‘I have a book on this, I’m going to go research’.

SARA-MAE:   Get it down from the shelf! If you think about how stupid the idea of duelling is… literally anyone can be like, ‘I wanna get rid of this dude, you’ve pissed me off, let’s meet at dawn’. It’s such a strange concept to me.

DOM:  But there’s also the thing of you can show up to the duel and if you fire in the air…

SARA-MAE:   Delope.

DOM:  …But sometimes you are allowed to do that but some days you can’t. They should have had Twitter so you can just clap back at each other.

SARA-MAE:   Exactly.

DOM:  So, we get to that point now, the part that’s interesting is you get this dialogue between Martin, who is furious, and Theo. Ulverston and Gervase are in the room, discussing what’s meant to happen. Gervase goes to sleep. So, he’s riding back from visiting one of the estates. He’s riding with Chard. And you just hear a bang, and he is aware that he is shot. Through the chest.

SARA-MAE:   They are literally talking about how Martin is shooting in the area. He was going to maybe try and meet Martin, He keeps being nice. He’s being kind to Martin, offering him a lift and stuff. And Martin is so surly and ungrateful. [baby voice] ‘I don’t wanna. If I know you are waiting for me, then I’ll get tetchy’. He swings by this place where he might have picked up Martin and he gets shot. So, at this point we’re like, ‘Jeez Martin what are you doing?’ Gervase has been shot and they take him to the house, Drusilla steps into the breach again. She’s the one who…

DOM:  Because everyone is just ‘Ahhhh’…

SARA-MAE:   The Dowager faints! And all the servants are wringing their hands. He is literally bleeding out in front of them. So, she’s like, ‘right, you do this, get me this, do that, go to the doctor’. And with her own hands is stanching the blood. She saves his life again, pretty much, because you realise, if she hadn’t been there after the first attempt, he could have died. It makes him fond of her. She keeps being the only one in the room, not worrying about their own nonsense. She really tries to help him.

DOM:  Even when he’s in the stupor. He recognises, ‘ah, you’re here again, taking care of me’. I think it’s now out of genuine respect and appreciation. He’s also like, ‘you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty’. I think, for me, this is where the interactions between them begin to develop.

SARA-MAE:   She’s also staying up to look after him, through the night, Giving him his medicine and whatever.

TALITHA:        And while he’s recovering, Martin has disappeared. And no one can find where he is.

SARA-MAE:   While she’s checking up on him, they hear a funny noise and she realizes he’s awake as he says ‘be quiet, don’t scream’, and Martin literally comes out of the wall. He’s like, ‘oh didn’t you know there’s a secret passage leading to your room?!’

DOM:  Everyone knows about the secret passage.

SARA-MAE:   Everyone except [Gervase]. And Gervase is like, ‘that would have been useful to know, prior to all these attempts on my life’. And Martin is, ‘of course I had nothing to do with it. In fact, I was hit on the head and dumped somewhere’. Which sounds ludicrous!

DOM:  ‘I forgot my homework and you see what happened was…’

[Laughs]

TALITHA:        Then all of a sudden in the middle of the night he hears a scratching on the sideboard in his room. The wall opens and Drusilla is in the room nursing him, they both look at the wall. And Martin appears looking wild eyed, with this crazy story about being kidnapped, beaten and something put over his head… thrown down a hole. ‘And I had to scratch my way out. Then I had to beg people to take me home. Everyone thinks I tried to kill you’. Something else is going on. Everyone finds this hard to believe.

SARA-MAE:   It looks like he went on the run.

TALITHA:        Drusilla and Gervase have an understanding between each other, that they are slowly piecing together different pieces of the story.

SARA-MAE:   The Earl is off his game for a few days, But the big climax. Basically… There are rumours running around about Martin. Everyone thinks Martin did it. He tells his valet to go home and gets in his place this guy who is always prowling around. I thought it was funny the way he talks in this thieve’s cant. He meets up with Gervase who comes out of his bedroom, talking about how this place has a lot of windows. ‘Someone could climb in, I’m not saying I would, but someone could’. That was amusing. The way he speaks and everyone is like ‘who is this weirdo? What’s Martin up to? Why does he have this guy who seems like a thief [in his employ]?’

DOM:  Yeah.

SARA-MAE:   And you think he’s obviously trying to spy on Gervase and listening at doors and stuff. So Gervase puts his guy, Chard, to watch Martin constantly. So, he’s going to make sure he doesn’t make any attempts on his life. And Theo is like, ‘the only reason I’m going off is because I know Ulverston is here to keep you safe’.

DOM:  So, after a while, we hear Theo has gone off. We hear Gervase decides to make a trip. To go visit Theo, but he doesn’t tell anyone. He pretends to go back to bed, then goes and sneaks out.

TALITHA:        You can hear Martin in the passageway as Gervase runs off, saying ‘I told you, you should have kept him here. You shouldn’t have let him go’. Drusilla is running up the stairs trying to stop Gervase from leaving. And Gervase rushes off to Theo’s estate.

DOM:  Now he then…

SARA-MAE:   He takes this chap, his name is Meak.

DOM:  And he takes him the long way to the estate and then dumps him.

SARA-MAE:   ‘Can you get that gate for me? Byeee…!’

DOM:  And then he’s like, ‘I suggest you go back the way you came. But I don’t like being followed’. And he drives off. So, he leaves him there. This guy’s been hoodwinked. So, here’s what I started thinking: Ulverston is trying to move in with Marianne. They get into this altercation. Is Ulverston a suspect?

SARA-MAE:   Yes, I thought this Ulverston guy, he seemed too good to be true? But what was the motive? What would he stand to gain?

DOM:  Yeah, and he has the girl so… What would be gained? They already have static with Martin so maybe revenge?

SARA-MAE:   To punish him in a subtle way.

DOM:  So, he leaves him there and this guy has been hoodwinked. Hitches a ride, tried to explain he works for Stanyon, and everyone is like ‘ha, good one’. [But] he gets back home. Meanwhile Drusilla overhears Martin and this guy arguing. ‘How could you lose him? That was your job’. Drusilla then tries to go downstairs.

SARA-MAE:   I think Martin immediately goes off to try and catch up with him.

DOM:  At this point Drusilla realises what is happening or Drusilla is the one trying to stop Martin, and she falls down the steps.

SARA-MAE:   I think she did know, because she’s so smart. But not smart enough not to trip, on her dress, on the stairs, almost breaking her neck.
DOM:  And she’s been so good this whole book!

SARA-MAE:   This is the thing, dresses get in the way. She should have got some trousers.

DOM:  You can’t trip over shorts.

SARA-MAE:    Some pantaloons!

DOM:  Not in the castle, there’s too many drafts. So, meanwhile the servants again don’t know what to do. The Bow Street guy is…

SARA-MAE:   These useless servants, wringing their hands. They get her onto a sofa. She’s broken her arm. Then we cut to… I can’t remember the name of the estate. Eversleigh? Gervase has gone there. This is the point where you’re like, ‘Ok what’s going to happen? Is Martin going to catch them and kill him?!’

DOM:  Gervase goes inside and he wants to talk to Theo privately, ‘I know what you did’.

SARA-MAE:   Theo is there and is like ‘what are you doing?’

TALITHA:        All of a sudden it comes to a head, where the penny drops, and Martin bursts in.

SARA-MAE:   Gervase pulls out a gun. And instead of pointing it at Martin, he points it at Theo. The whole thing comes out.

TALITHA:        Actually, it was Theo plotting against him and trying to kill him the whole time. He felt like his father was wronged and he didn’t get the inheritance he should have got, so he’s been secretly trying to kill Gervase.

SARA-MAE:   Also, he’s been in love with Marianne this whole time. If he’d killed Gervase, got him out the way and managed to frame Martin for his murder, he’d get him out the way too. He’d be the next Earl.

DOM:  He goes ‘if Martin shot me I’d have been dead. And who else stood to gain? It would be you’.

SARA-MAE:   Did you think it was Theo?

DOM:  Not until…you know the classic means, motive, opportunity.

SARA-MAE:   [Heyer] dropped tiny hints along the way. He never thought he had a chance with Marianne, ‘Of course she’d never look at me. I don’t have any wealth’. But she’s written him as such a nice guy you don’t really think about him. And also, there’s two people between him, he’d literally have to kill two of them.

DOM:  Thinking back, everyone has an emotional cadence except for Theo. You don’t get to know what’s happening on the inside. Just these flashes.

SARA-MAE:   He was quite repressed. I actually got warmth. I felt Gervase’s complete despair, he doesn’t want it to be Theo, but it was. Because he’s the only one that was nice. He says ‘you did so much hard work. Why didn’t you let me make it up to you, by giving you the estate?’ I don’t understand that part, if someone said have an estate, I’d be like ‘ok. I’ll take it’.

SARA-MAE:   In order to avoid a scandal, Gervase is really kind to him, and doesn’t clap him in irons. When you think he tries to kill him three times! And not only that, but frame Martin. What Gervase does is send him to Jamaica to look after an estate there.

TALITHA:        Sent packing, never to be seen again.

SARA-MAE:   But he wishes him well, even says ‘you were born to be a success, I have no doubt, go to Jamaica you’ll become a rich landowner and yadda yadda’. It’s kind of slightly anticlimactic, because he easily could have murdered him, and he is let off more or less scot free.

TALITHA:        Yeah, it goes to show the shame and scandal in the family would have been so great. They will avoid that at any costs. And also, you know Gervase is a silky, forgiving hero, not one to cause a scene.

SARA-MAE:   I’ve always felt like the thriller element doesn’t work so well with the romance element, and the light-hearted fluffy element. Because there are these serious considerations, that almost got laughed off.

TALITHA:        That’s a funny thing there’s this huge dramatic thing, someone is trying to murder the hero. His family are trying to murder him. And yet he’s just wafting from place to place being charming, taking it on the chin and in the meanwhile he’s having this really sweet friendship with Drusilla, who rescues him, and nurses him back to health. And she is this flame in his life, and he eventually comes around to realising he’s in love with her. And all the while there’s all this dramatic stuff happening and it’s quite funny. That they just sort of you know ‘oh, someone tried to murder me, what else is happening today? You know. Let’s eat some cold meats and have a ball!’

SARA-MAE:   What did you think of Gervase’s decision to send Theo off? Martin is like ‘ok’. Anyone you don’t like, send away to Australia or Jamaica. Do you think he let him off much too lightly?

DOM:  Yes!

SARA-MAE:   And it shows you how bad the idea of scandal was then.

DOM:  The only thing is, it would have been hard to… they didn’t have CSI, no way to prove it. [It was all] circumstantial.

SARA-MAE:   They say he would probably get off. But his life would be ruined.

DOM:  I think the Dowager’s head would have exploded. When you have this blended family, with this stepson… 

SARA-MAE:   Jamaica! That’s not a punishment!

DOM:  That’s like a holiday!

SARA-MAE:   Anyway, they go back to the estate. He sees Drusilla, and I think this is the first time we realise he’s in love with her. Because we know Drusilla is in love with him. She has this hilarious moment where, in her head, she’s giving herself a pep talk, Miss Morville, the sensible one, is going ‘look, you aren’t beautiful, you don’t have what it takes to get his attention and you’re being silly’. He’s handsome, gorgeous… but you need to forget him’. But then Drusilla, her inner self, is going, ‘but I luuurrrrvvve him!’

DOM:  She’s like, talking to herself in the mirror.

SARA-MAE:   ‘Shut this down’. So, we know she loves him. In fact, her father says to her mother ‘how can you want her to marry an earl? It goes against all our Republican principles of ripping the aristocrats down’. And she’s like, ‘what we write and how we live are two different things. He sounds like a nice guy’. Her husband is like ‘you’re crackers, look at Drusilla’. They value her, see her worth, but are like ‘she isn’t a massive beauty’.

SARA-MAE:   In terms of feminist aspect, this book is quite strong. Drusilla a very capable, sensible woman, able to get him out of scrapes. And doesn’t need rescuing.

TALITHA:        But then, she’s lying in a chair, like all helpless. She can’t be the helpless one. And that when he walks in and scoops her ups in his arms…! They have this really cute love scene, she goes on about not being fragile and sensitive. That’s when they have their smoochy lovey dovey moment, It’s funny how the whole time, she’s this stoic, strong lady, then eventually she gives in to being feminine. The feminism is turned on its head at the end.

SARA-MAE:   I wonder if Heyer felt like she had to give her an excuse to feel weak, to allow her to show her feelings for him? She’s been weakened by the fall…

SARA-MAE:   So, [Gervase] rocks back up. She is trying to get up with her broken arm. He starts caressing her and kissing her hands, and everyone is like, what’s going on? Her mom picks it up first.

The father comes around. He and the Dowager have a disagreement, ‘the Morvilles go back [further than your family]…’ Lineage wars.

SARA-MAE:   ‘You’re going to take my companion away!’ Objects the Dowager. ‘I have several other girls in my mind for you to marry’. And her father says ‘I won’t sanction her marrying an Earl, so there!’

DOM:  [But Gervase and Drusilla] are together in their own world and it’s nice. I enjoyed the reveal.

SARA-MAE:   I thought it was really sweet as well. There’s a moment where Drusilla, who never censored the duchess, even though she’s rude to everyone… she has a head wound but she rises up and defends Gervase. The Dowager is telling him he’s being really selfish, and Drusilla rises up, ‘You’ve done nothing but run him down!’ [Gervase is excited by this] ‘I wish you will give me leave to address you daughter!’ says the Earl. [But her dad is like] ‘I won’t have it!’

It’s funny how all the threads come together. They’ll make a really good couple. They’ve worked so well together throughout the book. Every time she saved his life, she’s been there for him, in a heroic way. And she wishes she could swoon and that she was a romantic person, ‘he would have liked me a lot more if I’d swooned’. You can tell he has loved her for who she is. Sensible and practical.

DOM:  And I do like the fact he does address her father. And she’s like ‘you can’t do it like this!’ He says ‘I’ll come to [ask for your hand] tomorrow then, is that okay? Is tomorrow a good time? Just tell me when’.

SARA-MAE:   To wrap it up – what were your thoughts? Did you enjoy this book?

DOM:  I did. Growing up we had books like Sweet Valley High or the Babysitters Club. To me, it read in that vein. Conflict with characters set up, and nice resolution. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. By chapter three, I thought it would be a slog. [All those] names and places and locations. [But] I really, really enjoyed it. Definitely better than the cover suggested. Would prefer a real book to kindle, though.

SARA-MAE:   Would it make a good film?

TALITHA:        Yes. A nice lighthearted period drama. I can see Keira Knightley as Drusilla!

SARA-MAE:   No, someone shorter! Anyone who plays Jane Eyre is supposed to be plain. They never are.

TALITHA:        I can see Jennifer Lawrence as Marianne. Definitely a charming, distracting film.

DOM:  Yes, a Netflix series, more time to build the characters in. I would watch that.

SARA-MAE:   Thanks so much. Finally, are you a convert?           

TALITHA:        Yes, it’s the period version of Grazia. I’d prefer to read this as escapism, than some modern rubbish.

DOM:  I think… yes!

SARA-MAE:   This isn’t my favourite, although I do enjoy it. And I’ve loved talking with you about it. If you read anymore I’ll give you some ideas.

DOM:  I like to read recommendations; it expands your reading.

SARA-MAE:   I like that this is so different from my regular life. Escapism to this Regency world, where ankles are the most shocking thing!

DOM:  Yes, and duels… and rules about duels.

SARA-MAE OUTTRO:

I had such a good time with Dom and Talitha reading a book that isn’t one of my favourites and looking at it with fresh eyes. There were so many great moments that I totally forgot about. And it was lovely to gain two new converts this week, whoop whoop!

Life can be bleak, sure, but not in Heyer’s world, and not with two such brilliant guests.

Next week, I’ll be interviewing the amazing Jennifer Kleoster, Heyer’s biographer. Jennifer has been incredibly supportive through this entire process. Even when I asked her to re-record the interview. Her book Georgette Heyer: The Biography of a Bestseller, is well worth a read, and had me crying at the end of it. Don’t be a sapskull, buy it at once! Till next time, on Heyer Today.

This episode was recorded, produced and edited by me, Sara-Mae Tuson. With production, writing and research help by Beth Keen and Will Dell for production support. Mike Scott for booking our movie nights and production assistance. Plus, this week, Mike’s is the voice you’ve heard reading our historical segment. Thanks also to Geraldine Elliot, Talitha Gamaroff and everyone who supported me in creating this work. Thanks to Suzy Buttress in particular and the podcast community at large for invaluable support and advice.

Our fantastic voice talent includes Sarah Golding and John Grayson. I’ll be putting info about them in the show notes.

The music used in this episode is from Emma Gatrill’s wondrous album Chapter One, as well as Jerome Alexander’s luscious Message to Bears tunes. Original music was composed especially for the podcast by myself and Tom Chad. Special thanks to the Audible team for letting us use an extract from the audiobook, do go and buy it, it’s a fabulous listen. Comment and take part in our discussion we are on social media; @fablegazers on Instagram, and @fable_gazers on Twitter. Remember to rate, review and subscribe, I can’t tell you how much it helps small indie companies like us to thrive. Heyer Today is a Fable Gazers Production.

[exit theme music]

‘Primo Georgette’ – Harriet Evans’ list of the best Heyers

Edited in Prisma app with Gothic

We interviewed the LOVELY Harriet Evans in episode 7 of Heyer Today, our podcast all about historical romance authoress, Georgette Heyer. She was kind enough to share her list of Heyer’s work in order of quality.

*This post is taken with permission from Harriet’s blog:

“In my last book Happily Ever After the heroine Elle goes through a massive Georgette Heyer addiction and keeps going back to a second-hand bookshop like a crack addict to buy another paperback. Well do I know that feeling (well duh. I wrote the book so of course I do.) This is for everyone who’s asked for a list of Georgette Heyer books with which it would be a good idea to start. I hope it’s useful. At my last job I wrote a list for two of my work bezzies and they soon got the Georgette bug, raced through the good ones then the not so good ones, right down to the frankly a bit duff ones (come ON, she wrote for about sixty years, she was allowed a duff book once in a while). I can’t find the list anywhere in my old files, so I’ve spent a hugely pleasurable hour or so going through them again. Would welcome any dissenters or discussion otherwise! I know my old boss and near all-time favourite person Jane will totally disagree that A Convenient Marriage is not in my list of primos, but I will risk her wrath. Really hope this is useful. She is so great. 

Here goes.

1. Primo Georgette. ie every one of these ones is G Heyer writing at her best. ARGH she is so good. I give a money back guarantee.*

Venetia

These Old Shades

Devil’s Cub

An Infamous Army

Sprig Muslin

Faro’s Daughter

The Nonesuch

Lady of Quality

Regency Buck

The Reluctant Widow

The Grand Sophy

Frederica

Bath Tangle

Black Sheep

Sylvester

2. I would always reread

The Foundling

Friday’s Child

The Talisman Ring

Charity Girl

The Convenient Marriage

A Civil Contract

False Colours

April Lady

The Toll-Gate

Cotillion

The Quiet Gentleman

The Corinthian

The Spanish Bride

The Black Moth

3. Kind of a bit weird or not Regency but hey, still Georgette!

Beauvallet

Powder and Patch

The Masqueraders

Cousin Kate

Royal Escape

*er… actually maybe not. But you can email me and yell at me if you don’t like it.” 

Check out more of Harriet’s brilliant work here and follow her on Twitter.