When it comes to comfort reading, reading to escape everyday life for something a little more glamourous and romantic, nothing beats a Georgette Heyer regency novel. Heyer was hands down the best at creating enchanting regency fairytales with intelligent, sensible heroines and dashing beaus. Some Heyer novels are better than others though - which makes sense when you consider how many she wrote... So here are my three Heyer favourites:
Set in 1811-1812, this is the story of the calm, cool and collected heiress Judith Taverner who comes to London to become part of the ton. She is set at being a success, even if she has to battle her formidable guardian, the fashionable Earl of Worth, who has very little interest in introducing Judith and her brother Peregrine into society.
Judith Taverner is a classic Heyer heroine; full of courage and determination with plenty of intelligence but also with a warm heart. She's an It-girl and a trendsetter and her story is captivating - I've read it at least five times and it remains a favourite.
The Grand Sophy is the nickname of a young lady who has grown up on the continent but is sent to family in London in time for her coming-out. Sophy is different from the other girls in the city, her childhood has been one of freedom to do or speak as she wants and she continually shocks her surroundings with her free spirit. Like Judith Taverner, Sophy is a woman with a tremendous personality and a chic taste in attire and in this novel, Heyer shows this even more clearly by giving Sophy an adversary whose virtues are in line a more traditional female ideal of demure femininity.
The heroine of this Heyer novel stands apart from the society beauties of "Regency Buck" and "The Grand Sophy" - Ancilla Trent is a genteel 26-year-old woman who has fallen on hard times and has taken up a role as a governess in Yorkshire. She is gentle and intelligent, reserved and self-confident without the outgoing liveliness of Judith and Sophy. When the Nonesuch, Sir Waldo Hawkridge comes to the neighbourhood with his nephew, Ancilla's young charge, the beautiful but cold Tiffany Wield, wants the attentions of both gentlemen. The differences between Ancilla and Tiffany are what drives this novel with Sir Waldo being the catalyst showing how all that glitters isn't gold and not all gold glitters.
Of the three heroines, Judith Taverner is the woman, most of us would want to be, Sophy is the girl we'd admire and try to live up to and Ancilla is the one we would tell our deepest secrets. Heyer is a fabulous talent for bringing interesting and engaging women to life in stories and if you are looking for new fiction-friends, I suggest you start here!