27 June 2011

That's 1955 for You

Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Normally my reading of Regency novels is restricted to Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. I've found that most else is... dull. I can't seem to find enjoyment is the fictional goings-on of the wealthiest members of British society in the early nineteenth century. The ordinary people were much more interesting, and much more real. Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Dickens, and Victor Hugo all do a smashing job; so I stick with them.

My mother reads Georgette Heyer novels. Georgette Heyer, if you aren't aware, is famous for writing Regency-era romance. She published from around 1920 to around 1970, and her works are (so I hear) all thoroughly researched and considered to be a generally accurate depiction of the times. If you were an earl, or a duke, or one of those people who never really had to work a day in their lives.

I've read pieces of some of her books, and generally found them to be pretty boring. The first thirty pages of one was nothing but a bunch of people sitting around in a drawing room. Forever. Nothing happened. I gave it up and amused myself instead with counting the birds that flew past the car window. Another had a heroine that stuttered. It got very old. And she was wimpy and not very intelligent. I don't read books with wimpy leading females.


While Tall One was doing a book drive for his Eagle Project, I was placed in charge of sorting the romance novels. This was a daunting task. We didn't want to be donating anything dubious, so all 'questionable' material had to be tossed.

I developed a system. The first thing I would look at was the cover. If it depicted bare-chested, ripply-muscled, heavily-tanned males with wavy hair, and/or scantily clad Baywatch bimbos, it was in the trash.

The next thing I looked at were the titles. If the titles of the books made my eyebrows raise, or if they contained cleverly suggestive puns, they also hit the trash heap. And there were some doozies. (Though, if you do this long enough sometimes you're not sure if it's really a pun or if it's just you. I probably tossed a few innocent books whose only sins were to fall victim to my over-active imagination. Then again, given some of those titles, probably not.)

The third and final test, if a book had passed the previous two, was the random scene check. If I could randomly open a book in three places and read a few pages without running into something explicit, then I deemed it acceptable and it got put in the 'donate' box.

(Side note: When my visiting grandparents got wind of this they thought it was the funniest thing they'd heard all day. I think it was pretty genius, myself.)


Well, as few weeks ago Mom brought home another Georgette Heyer book from the library, and Bath Tangle was the title of this illustrious tome. Between  Dad's, "Is it an instruction manual?" my "Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! *wink, wink* " Tall One's, "Mom! There are children in the house!" and Mom's "The city of Bath, guys, the city of Bath," it was the most interesting thing that had happened in days. I decided that I pretty much had to read this one, just in case.

Disappointingly, it really was just your average run-of-the-mill Regency novel. Though the heroine was at least plucky, and didn't stutter, and there was a guy named Ivo. That was cool.

Love always,

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