Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Book Review of Georgette Heyer's Regency World: The Defining Guide for all fans of Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen and the glittering Regency period by Jennifer Kloester

Georgette Heyer's Regency World

SourceBooks released Georgette Heyer's Regency World by Jennifer Kloester this August.  My mother introduced me to the books of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen, and I became fascinated with the Regency period.  Needless to say, when I heard about Jennifer Kloester's book Georgette Heyer's Regency World: The definitive guide for all fans of Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen and the glittering Regency world, I definitely wanted to read it.

Georgette Heyer's Regency World is meticulously researched, deeply informative and highly entertaining.  Jennifer Kloester gives a broad introduction of the Regency period. I'd loosely associated the Regency period with the dashing lords of the romance novels -- a period close to the Napoleonic Wars and of glittering social affairs of the ton.  Kloester explains that the true Regency period only covered 9 years - beginning when George, Prince of Wales, was sworn in as Regent on Feb 5, 1811 and ended when he was proclaimed King George IVon Jan. 31, 1820.  Though a short period, the Regency period was a time of change with industrialization and the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Kloester describes the society of the period and shares what life was life both for the aristocracy and the gentry as well as for their many servants.  Her coverage of the "Upper Servants" and the "Lower Servants" gives a clear and interesting picture of a wealthy household.  We learn exactly what it would have been like for each of the different members of the staff from their daily responsibilities, housing, salary, position, status, to their living quarters.  Kloester introduces us to what it meant to serve as steward, groom of the chambers, butler, valet, housekeeper, head housemaid, lady's maid, footman, coachman, groom stable boy, housemaid, kitchen maid, scullery maid, and laundry maid.

In the chapters At Home in Town and Country, On the Town, The Pleasure Haunts of London, The Fashionable Resorts, and Getting About, Kloester gives us a fuller grounding of the architecture, neighborhoods, clubs, and locations that the fashionable and wealthy frequented.  She doesn't just write about the development of the fashionable district of Mayfair, but also maps out the spots that are often mentioned, (Piccadilly, Bond Street, Park Lane, Grosvenor Square, Hyde Park, Westminster, Berkeley Square, Curzon Street, St.James Street) so that we have a sense of where these places are in relation to each other. Through illustrations and careful description, we are given a clear picture of what a house would have looked like, what amenities were available and how each residence would have been used during the period.  Kloester weaves in characters and passages from Heyer's novels which adds to our understanding of the period and makes Heyer's stories even richer. 

The chapters A Man's World, The Gentle Sex, What to Wear, Shopping, Eat, Drink and Be Merry, The Sporting Life, and Business and The Military give fascinating details of different aspects of everyday life.  The boxing clubs and men's social clubs, slang, legal arrangements, trusts and legacies, type of education, Almack's and its patronesses, the Upper Ten Thousand, social calls and the many rules of etiquette and behavior that ruled everyone's lives.

Jennifer Kloester's Georgette Heyer's Regency World is a fascinating and delightful read. It is sure to interest and satisfy readers with a particular fondness for works set during the Regency period and/or Georgette Heyer novels.

ISBN-10: 1402241364 - Trade Paperback $14.99
Publisher: Sourcebooks (August 3, 2010), 416 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Jennifer Kloester is Georgette Heyer's official biographer, and had access to private papers and other confidential information, discovering a wealth of new material on the immensely private author.  Georgette Heyer's Regency World was a bestseller in the UK, and Kloester is now at work on Heyer's official biography.

Thank you to Danielle and SourceBooks for this review opportunity!

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