Friday’s ‘Forgotten’ Books: The Corinthian

Georgette Heyer should be a household name; that’s the only thing that qualifies this as a “forgotten” book. Heyer is still a nonpareil amongst romance readers, but little known beyond that group. I only learned about her because of Stephen Fry; for his 50th birthday he had a short program on his “guilty pleasures” and one of them was Heyer. She came along at just the right time for me,  as her lively cant became incorporated into the ongoing serial that’s now been published as The Mangrove Legacy.

Heyer is primarily responsible for making The Regency a genre all itself, though she wrote mysteries and stories set in other periods as well. For readers who rip through Austen’s works and then lament there is no more, Heyer is a treasure trove. She doesn’t just capture Austen’s period; she also shares a great deal of her sense of fun and wit. In short, her books are a delight.

The Corinthian provides an excellent example. The title is slang for a man of fashion, the type who spend an awful lot of time worrying about the state of his cravat. A very drunk Sir Richard Wyndham one night happens upon the runaway Penelope Creed; both are facing a marriage they do not wish to engage upon and the tomboyish Pen convinces Wyndham to chaperone her on a coach trip to her childhood home — and of course along the way, he sobers up, she reveals herself to be more than the “child” he continues to call her and they get mixed up in various misunderstands and crime. Delightful stuff that will amuse anyone; Heyer’s skill at bringing characters to life is superb, her dialogue crackles with good humor. The covers her work appears within, however, seem designed to appeal only to romance readers, alas. Trust me — and Stephen Fry! — Heyer is wonderful.

I’m off this morning to the airport: Atlanta and then Memphis where Miss Wendy will whisk me off to Oxford. We’re hoping to have a lot of fun ringing in the new year. I’m looking forward to seeing her new home and the land of Faulkner.

A rather Leary sort of poem (or so at least I once passed it off without a murmur of dissent) I wrote has been accepted by the Journal of Asinine Poetry. I’ll let you know when it’s available. The short humor piece I did for State of Imagination will be up tomorrow I believe. Look for “A Plea on Behalf of the Small Hat League.”

It’s the little things that matter: in the midst of a very irritating day yesterday, I was cheered by receiving a card in the mail — a holiday card from Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie. Cue fan girl squee. It’s hard not to do so, even though having met them — they’re both so nice and easy going — I can understand the frustration with the public persona created by the media (and pop songs). At least they have a good sense of humor about it: I remember Alan telling a story about walking past a football match on the green in Northampton, when a waggish cabbie stopped to shout, “Say, Alan, do you know the score?” Hee! Yes, that’s the “reclusive” writer, who spends an awful lot of his time rambling around the city and talking to people. Never believe the press.