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Grace's Book Blog[O]ne of the most richly detailed and interesting historical fictions I have read.
— Grace Loiacano
"[T]he reader who takes a lesson from the unlikely hero, and relishes the richness and texture of Heyer's medieval world, will find much to enjoy." - Jane Austen's World
Excerpt from Part I: Richard the Redeless
M. de Guyenne
The children had been sent to play in the herber with Kate Puncherdown. The damsel hired to serve the youngest of four nobly born imps was glad to escape from indoor tasks on a bright June day, but she thought it due to her dignity to tell Agnes Rokster that it did not lie within her duty to wait upon the Lord John. Agnes said: 'I am sure it is never my lording who makes unease in the nursery! You may take him to oblige me.'
'You may take him because you are bid!' said Johanna Waring.
'Oh, well, to oblige you, Agnes - !' said Kate.
Johanna resented this, and took an unthinking revenge. 'And if I were you,' she said disastrously, 'I would not let my lord Humfrey go a step without you hold his leading-strings, for he looks so baggingly, poor sweeting, that I dread to see him walk into a wall and break his sely nose!'
This was importable provocation. My lord Humfrey had an irregularity in his left eye, but to say that he squinted was a piece of wicked despite. My lord Humfrey - he was not two years old - was a child of singular promise: intelligent, wellgrown, and (Kate said significantly) so lusty that he had never caused his mother to feel an hour's anxiety.
The rush of colour to Johanna's cheeks should have told Kate that it was needless for her to add: 'What a pity that my lord Harry should be so sickly, and he the eldest!'
It was fortunate that the nursery-tower lay at some distance from the Countess of Derby's chamber, for the jangle of strife would not have pleased her. But the Lady Blanche's nurse, swaddling the infant in fresh bands; and Johanna Donnesmere, who had charge of my lord Thomas, listened to the quarrel with unshadowed enjoyment, for each knew herself to be unassailable. No one could find fault with the fair babe in Isobel Staines's lap; and no one could deny that of all the Lancaster brood my lord Thomas was the stoutest as he was the most wellvisaged. From the day that he had come fighting into the world (so unlike the Lord Harry, who had had to be slapped before he would draw breath!) he had not suffered a day's illness. My lord Thomas's nurse had never been obliged to sit through a distressful night because a fond grandparent had stuffed her charge with marchpane. While my lord Harry retched and retched, my lord Thomas, more than a year his junior, slept soundly beside him, no more disturbed by a surfeit of doucets than by a tumble from his pony. The worst anyone could say of my lord Thomas was that his was not an influence for peace in the nurseries; and not the most jealous nurse could pretend that a hot temper and a determination to have his own way were characteristics to be regarded with anything but pride.
When everything that could possibly be said in disparagement of one boy of seven and one infant who had just learnt to walk out of leading-strings had been uttered, the quarrel ended, and Kate took the children into the garden, carrying Humfrey down the newel-stair, and giving John her hand to hold.
The inner court was flooded with sunshine, and seemedoven-hot after the cool of the castle. It was almost surrounded by buildings, so that there was not enough stir in the air even to ruffle Kate's coif. Most of these buildings were new, including those on the south side of the court, which housed the family. Indeed, neither the Chapel, situated towards the base-court to the east, nor the Great Hall, occupying most of the western side, were quite finished. Masons and dauberers were always at work; and the ninety-foot front of the Hall was still masked by a scaffolding. Behind this, the walls, like the rest of the castle, glowed pink in the sunlight. The old Hall had looked much like the Keep, which towered at the north-east angle of the court, and had been built hundreds of years before, when even kings' palaces were lit only by slit windows; but the new Hall was quite a different style of building, with an oriel, and four other windows with pointed arches and many lights. They were richly ornamented; and ever since the family had removed from Peterborough to Kenilworth the Countess's ladies had not ceased to complain that they could hear the 'chip-chip' of the masons' hammers even in their dreams. The nurses were
not behindhand with their grutchings. It was predicted that while the Lady Blanche lost her sleep the lordings would break their necks, clambering over the scaffolding, and losing their footholds. But the Lady Blanche slept through the worst of thehammering; and although the lordings fulfilled the expectations of those who knew them best by swarming all over the scaffolding, and driving every honest craftsman out of his five wits by the pertinacity of their questions, not one of them had yet been picked up lifeless in the court.
The lordings loved Kenilworth: loved it so much that throughout their lives it remained in their hearts a place of happiness, rosy-hued, and soaked in sunshine.
Part I: Richard the Redeless
1. M. de Guyenne
2. Beau Chevalier
3. Parting Hence
4. Herod's Feast
5. Another Absalom
6. Sa, sa, cy avaunt!
Part II: The Unquiet Time
1. Which no Man then Repugned
2. King Richard's Nurselings
3. After Wind Cometh Rain
4. The Red Rigs
5. The Witch Queen
Part III: The Lord Warden
1. The Lord Warden
2. Green Wood
3. Fox of the North
4. Heavy Cheer
5. Shipton Moor
6. Scrope's Bane
Part IV: Prince Excellent
1. Looking Back
2. Supper at Westminster
4. Lusty Bachelor
The House of Plantagenet and its Branches
The late Georgette Heyer was a very private woman. Her historical novels have charmed and delighted millions of readers for decades, though she rarely reached out to the public to discuss her works or private life. It is known that she was born in Wimbledon in August 1902, and her first novel, The Black Moth, was published in 1921.
Heyer published 56 books over the next 53 years, until her death from lung cancer in 1974. Heyer's large volume of works included Regency romances, mysteries and historical fiction. Known also as the Queen of Regency romance, Heyer was legendary for her research, historical accuracy and her extraordinary plots and characterizations. Her last book, My Lord John, was published posthumously in 1975. She was married to George Ronald Rougier, a mining engineer, and they had one son together, Richard.
Posted July 2, 2009
Despite my love of Georgette Heyer, I don't have much experience with either her mysteries or her historical fiction. I had no idea what I was missing.
I am not an expert in this historical period. Not by any means. It is not one of my favorites and I've not done much research about it. From what I know about this time period, which is admittedly not very much, the historical characters were portrayed very accurately. They really come alive through Heyer's prose and attention to historical accuracy. I loved all of the character in the book and really got into their stories. Heyer gave all of the the main characters sufficient time in the spotlight which I find to be a really amazing asset to the book especially considering the complexity of the story and the amount of characters in the book . Heyer also perfectly captured the language, customs and feel of the period.
If I thought that Heyer's attention to historical accuracy was intense in her regency romances, it is nothing compared to the historical complexity and detail that I found in My Lord John. This book was so rich in history that I sometimes completely forgot that I was reading a Heyer novel. Given that this was Heyer's favorite historical period, this level of detail is to be expected. I did find that sometimes the story became too complex and I became a little lost and disinterested in the story and, perhaps, Heyer sacrificed plot for detail. I did recover but this period of disinterest did take a little away from my interest in the novel. I, however, can't fault Heyer for her attention to historical fact because as a historian, I love detail and accuracy in my historical fiction .
It is to be noted that Heyer died before My Lord John was finished, so, you will be left without conclusions. It is definitely worth checking out because this might be one of the most richly detailed and interesting historical fictions I have read.
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Posted November 20, 2009
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