Georgette Heyer: Arabella

Could there ever be anything more perfect than Arabella?  Heyer picks up where Austen leaves off, presenting a charming and perfectly engaging story of a country miss (the eldest daughter of a vicar) who tells a little fib when faced with the snobbery of the Nonpareil.

Our hero, Mr. Beaumaris, is really just a Corinthian who amuses himself frequently at the expense of society because he is so admired and imitated.  Therefore, the lovely Miss Tallant presents a delicious challenge.  Can he make her the Season’s Incomparable?

What is so wonderful about Arabella is its very human portrayal of two seemingly disparate characters who happen to fall in love.  Arabella is beautiful but cannot help her very Christian upbringing and seems bound to embarrass herself in Town with little foibles.  Were it not for the presence of Mr. Beaumaris, who is challenged by her indifference toward him, she surely would have been seen as rustic.

Heyer, like Austen, is devoid of the sexual content of contemporary hist-ro.  But somehow you never miss it with a Heyer because her language and descriptions feel so very real you are too caught up in the Regency world to give a fig.

It is for the very PG rated quality of this book that I think it should be on every gift list for teenage girls.  As a voracious reader in childhood, as much as I am in adulthood, I can’t imagine why no one ever recommended Heyer.  The lessons are strong, the story entertaining, and the romance wonderful.

As for woman of an age, it reminds of the innocence of the romantic story that draws us back time and time again.  We love to read about the conflict of characters, their foibles and their follies, and most importantly their humanity.

7 thoughts on “Georgette Heyer: Arabella

  1. Well said. This book is one of my all time favorites.

    I don’t know of many authors I rate above her, other than Jane Austen and John Steinbeck in sheer readability and story telling. These three authors, more than all the others I have read, amaze me with the beauty of their sentences.

    On a more serious note, Georgette Heyer may have called her own Regency romances (for which she had scant regard) “nonsense” but authors today are writing for greed, not good. In most novels today, love and sex are seen as one (which is why our marriages don’t last). Of course sex sells but these woman authors are my age and are not without the wisdom to know better. They could help young woman (through their storytelling) understand the difference between sex and love much better than they are. In my 45 year old opinion, they are creating perceptions that are harmful to young women who are fast approaching the most important decision of their life–whom to spend their life with, create life with and grow old with. Young women need to know many men could trigger the sensual side of us, but that does not last as long as you think. Once that disminishes, (and it does!) it’s character that deepens the lust to love! How well do you know the man that lights your fire (for now)?

    In the romance genre of today, two contemporary authors, Judith McNaught and LaVyrle Spencer are similar to Austen and Heyer. They may write “nonsense” romance, as Heyer classified it, but we read it because they give us hope for the young to choose wisely, learn from their mistakes, grow with wisdom, and look for beauty through truth.

  2. I agree, to some extent, with your assessment of contemp. romance, Julia.

    But I wonder if contemp hist-ro isn’t written for an adult audience exclusively, especially due to the oft explicit content.

    Which begs the question, why isn’t there more young adult romance? I have always loved romance as a genre, but my tastes have definitely changed over the years (numerous times, depending on my age).

    I think it would be wonderful to have a genre of romance specifically targeted to a younger audience, one that went through first loves, crushes, and how real love really can be measured in action rather than chemistry.

    In my opinion as a happily married woman, I enjoy the fantasy of sizzle of contemporary historical romance, the way it helps to revive the zing in my own romance. But without the benefit of experience, do younger women appreciate those complicated differences?

    Its a big question, but one that deserves mulling over, especially for those of us who put pen to paper.

    In many ways, romance has been the main vehicle for women to talk to other women about love, life, and relationships. Its a way to combat other mediums (like movies, tv, news, etc) that are too often written by a male perspective for a male audience.

    I would love to invite more thoughts on this topic….especially for the other authors and readers out there….

  3. When I was a teenager, I came into contac with romance books via the now non-existent Signet house. That first contact shaped my love for historical romances as nothing has done thus far. Most of the historical romance books nowadays (if not all) are much spicier than the stories I learned to love years before. I recomend looking up some of those books in the used book stores, I’m sure you’ll find them there.
    One of my top favorite authors of that period is Barbara Metzger. I haven’t read her most recent books yet, but I definitely plan on changing that soon.

  4. I’m a young girl and I love Georgette Heyer, because like you say, her books are the very rare clean and innocent romances. I would LOVE it if more books came out about historical romance , especially regency came out aimed at teenagers and young adults. Can you reccommend any more clean historical books for me?


    • Definitely! I think Georgette Heyer is a great author for teens who love Regency/Jane Austen. Her books are funny and sweet and very well written!

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