Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Georgette Heyer's Regency World by Jennifer Kloester

A few weeks ago, as I was browsing the Romance shelves at one of my local Barnes & Noble stores, I spied a few copies of Georgette Heyer's Regency World, which I immediately scooped up. I could have used it for some of my Jane Austen-related research, since it includes quite a lot of useful information about the customs, manners, fashions, and practices of the time period.

If you are a fan of (a) Georgette Heyer's books; (b) Jane Austen's novels; (c) Regency romances; (d) the Regency era for any reason; and/or (e) all of the above, this book is for you. If you are planning on writing a Regency novel, I daresay this is a resource you will be exceeding glad to have in your arsenal.

There are chapters about society; housing (town vs. country); how men lived and were expected to behave; what women were taught and what sort conduct was expected of them (including what constituted an auspicious marriage); information about the Seasons in London (Big and Little), including information on Almack's and a separate chapter about the "pleasure haunts" of London (scandalous!); the fashionable resorts; the modes of transportation of the time; clothing of the time period; shopping, with a focus on particular haberdashers of note; food (Good Lord, what they ate . . . ); "Sport" for men, which includes talk of boxing, racing, gambling and even (one hesitates to mention such an illegality) duelling; business and the military; and the royal family. There are useful appendices including common Regency terms, newspapers, books mentioned in Heyer's novels, plus three more appendices that provide a timeline, a list of further Regency resources and information on Heyer's novels.

The book contains absolutely charming pen and ink illustrations by Graeme Tavendale, many of which are his adaptations of the sketches of Regency artists such as George Cruikshank, John Nash, Hugh Thomson and more. While not all of them are absolutely necessary, they are all delightful additions to the package as a whole, and are in some cases indispensable to understanding the text (as with the illustrations of certain conveyances, such as a barouche, a phaeton, etc.).

Highly recommended for Regency fans of all ilks.

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