Tag Archives: Georgette Heyer

Reading for enjoyment – necessary for our wellbeing…

open book for reading

Inspired by Liz’s super post last week, I am indulging myself this weekend because it is Mothering Sunday.

I have decided I am not going to write.

I am going to be reading.

But hang on, is reading an indulgence or a necessity?

We all need time off to recharge our batteries, refill the well, get our head together — whatever you want to call it. Sometimes it can be a good walk, or a browse around a museum, or just hanging out with friends.

chatting about reading authors we love

Or reading a good book

In these uncertain times, most of the things listed above are just not practical.
Except the last.interior Leakey's Bookshop Inverness

So, this weekend I am going to indulge myself with books. Lots of them. I shall dip in and out, look at old favourites and rearrange my teetering TBR pile. (Okay, I confess, the picture on the right is NOT my TBR books, but I’d love it to be! This is Leakey’s bookshop in Inverness, a treasure trove for anyone who loves browsing books.)

Later I shall also be asking you to recommend new ones to make that TBR pile teeter even more perilously!

cover Death Come To Cornwall by Kate JohnsonI am currently enjoying a lovely cosy crime mystery by Kate Johnson Death Comes to Cornwall.

When I am in the middle of writing a romance, my reading time is limited and so is my concentration span.

Also, I have to read something from another genre, and this one fits the bill very nicely. It has an enjoyable romance, gorgeous setting and enough mystery to keep me guessing without addling my poor cold-befuddled brain. (No, it’s not befuddled with that virus. Just an ordinary common-or-garden cold.)

Another cosy crime author whose books are always adding to my TBR pile is Lesley Cookman. Her Libby Sarjeant series is a constant delight. I love the Kentish village setting and quirky characters.

cover Murder In Steeple Martin by Lesley Cookman

I shall also be pulling books from my “keeper’s shelf” and reminding myself how much I enjoyed them. Like P D James’ thrillers – always absorbing but a little unsettling, too. Her talent for acute observation always makes me a bit uncomfortable, possibly because of what I fear she might have observed in me, had we ever met!

Sherlock Holmes with pipe and magnifying glass

And then there is the Shetland Series by Ann Cleeves.

cover Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves

 

I discovered these wonderful books after watching the first television series, and I devoured the lot, almost back to back. Perhaps it was because we were already thinking of moving to Scotland but I fell in love with the island setting.

Her characters, too, are so well drawn. And so much better, if I dare say so, than the tv version, although that, too is very good.

 

Comfort Reads

Illness or bad news can be so dispiriting, can’t it?
That’s when I find myself reaching for my comfort reads.

My poor Georgette Heyer paperbacks are beginning to fall apart now, but they still do the trick. These are the covers of my copies: I considered putting up pictures of the latest, glossy covers but heck, these are much-loved books. So here they are in all their, er, glory!

worn covers of 3 Georgette Heyer Regencies

There are others, of course, mainly contemporary romances, that I reach for when I need to cover Afgternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe by Milly Johnsonescape the world. My early Katie Fforde books are very well thumbed, and a few years ago I discovered another author to add to my favourites: Milly Johnson.

Milly’s new books never linger on the TBR pile very long!

If you can have such a thing as no nonsense comedy then Milly delivers it. Her situations are very real, the characters complex but there are always plenty of laughs and a satisfying ending.
What more can I ask for in a feel-good read?

And as I begin to recover – from my cold 😉 – I find I start thinking of all those things I have missed while curled up on the sofa with a blanket and a box of tissues. Like cooking a new recipe. So I like to browse through recipe books, ones with nice glossy pictures that can inspire me to put on an apron and slave over a hot stove.
Like these three beauties: Delia, James Martin, Nigella.

covers of cookbooks by Delia Smith, James Martin, Nigella Lawson

Now, did I mention Scotland earlier?

Scotland – and specifically the Highlands – is my new passion. (Look out for a kilted Highlander later in the year!) I just cannot get enough of the place.

At Christmas I was given a perfectly delightful coffee table book, Highland Retreats.

cover of Highland Retreats by Mary MiersWhen I need to rest my eyes from all those printed pages, I can browse through pictures of the sumptuously romantic castles of the north of Scotland. It is the perfect book to have to hand when the weather is too foul to venture out of doors.

I can take a virtual tour of the Highlands, marvel at the fairy-tale turrets of Dunrobin Castle and Ardverikie. (That’s the Scots Baronial hunting lodge used as Glen Bogle in “Monarch of the Glen” — remember that series? Based on the books of Compton Mackenzie).

I can browse through pictures of the sumptuous interiors, imagine the gatherings, parties, balls taking place in the baronial halls, drinking hot toddies before a blazing fire. Best to keep these ideas as dreams? I suspect the reality was long draughty corridors and smoking chimneys!

I admit there is very little in the book that is of use to me, since my historicals are mainly set pre-Victorian times. But as I said at the beginning, this is a weekend of indulgence. No pressure to research or learn anything, just to sit and enjoy.

Now it’s your turn

So, dear guest, what are YOU reading?  I have had my say. Now it is over to you to tell me what you will be reading/browsing this weekend — or into the week, if you have time to spare.

Whatever it is, I hope it takes you away to somewhere magical, even if only for a while!

Sarah Mallory author image

Sarah Mallory

Reading Romance : Why do we do it?

These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer with antihero the Duke of AvonThis month I’ve been thinking about reading romance. Who does it? Why? When? And, well, what qualifies as romance? Troilus and Criseyde? Jane Eyre ? Anna Karenina? These Old Shades? Gaudy Night? Bridget Jones?  Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music?

I’ve read them all and I’d say “yes but” to all of them. Many people, maybe most, would disagree with me on at least one.

On 3rd February the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association published its short list for this year’s awards.  It’s the RNA”s 60th anniversary and this year there are nine categories.

My seven stories above would each fall into at least one of them.

Love is in the Air

And then there was St Valentine’s Day last Friday. That always brings out a flurry of saccharine fluff, embarrassing stunts and grimmish think pieces in the media.

Commercialism – shock, horror! Unrealistic emotional expectations from reading romance – fie, sir, write me a sonnet or leave at once! Head for the pub, lads, and fast. Continue reading

Thanks to Music

Thanks to MusicThis week I’m going to be unashamedly personal, thanks to music. Indeed, I want to say thank you – to friends and well-wishers, fellow writers, musicians of all kinds and the universe.

To put you in the picture – several weeks ago I booked tickets for a concert to take place this past week at the Wigmore Hall.

inner reader, mystery womanIt appealed to me for all sorts of reasons. There was history, discovery (some of the programme was so obscure I thought I’d probably never hear it live again), drama, even youth studies. There was a band I love.

And then there was a sort of deep satisfaction in participating in a major enterprise that would last as long as Mozart’s life.

BUT…

Continue reading

Sarah Mallory: Living and writing in the Scottish Highlands.

Those who know me from Social media will probably realise that I have moved. A big move. Massive. After 30 years in one house I have moved to the Scottish Highlands.   To Wester Ross. It has been described as Britain’s last great wilderness, and with good reason. Moving here is not just another country, it is another life and a very different one. The language is almost the same. Almost, but not quite. One has to think more about it. No one asks where you live, it is where are you staying, as if you are just passing through.

Hospitality is generous, tea, cake or biscuits are often offered as a matter of course. Which means I need to brush up on my baking skills.

Okay, I doubt I will EVER bake anything this good!

The Scottish Highlands from a writer’s point of view

I travel through this land with my writer’s hat on. The landscape feels old. Continue reading

The Sweet Sorrow of Endings

I have done it!  I have finished my latest historical romance!
Hooray, I hear you say. At last.
About time.champagne to celebrate book endings

writer worries waiting for editor's verdict

It has been polished, re-polished and sent winging its merry way to The Editor, the god-like creature who will pronounce judgement upon my baby. As some old writer hack said, “parting is such sweet sorrow.”
It is an anxious time.

But while I wait, chewing my nails to the quick, I have been pondering on Life, the Universe and…

Endings

Continue reading

In Praise of Dirty Drafts

This week I have been remembering the first draft of my first book. Well, the first book I actually completed.

First draft libraryI remember that it was written by hand, mostly while I was waiting for books to be retrieved from the stack in a very famous library.

The leather-bound tomes, the scholarly hush, the dust dancing in the sunbeams, the academics concentrating all  around me…. oh, I remember them as if I’ve only just walked in from that day with my book bag stuffed with notes and my head full of my characters.

First draft cafe napkinOr sometimes I wrote that first draft while I was waiting for an old friend in our favourite coffee shop.

When inspiration struck there, I sometimes scribbled the idea down on any old scrap of paper — including a cafe napkin once or twice.

By now, dear Reader, you will have realised two things: Continue reading

The Romantic Hero Revisited — Essential Hero Qualities

Revisiting the Romantic Hero Formula —
except that there isn’t a formula, as I tried to show in the first blog on this topic. So, instead, I’m going to explore some aspects of creating the romantic hero.

With examples from a master of the art of hero-creation — Georgette Heyer.

Which Qualities Make a Romantic Hero Attractive — to Readers?

Most of us would say that our aim in writing romance is to create a heroine that our readers will identify with and a hero that they will lust after. Warning: it is not easy to do and not all readers will respond in the same way. Some may adore our hero and some may hate him. As romance authors, we’re winning if we have a lot more of the former. 😉

Tall Dark and Handsome?

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in "Game of Thrones."

Alan Rickman as Nottingham, Richard Armitage as GisbourneTall dark and handsome? Not necessarily. As readers we probably all have favourite heroes who are none of those. As writers, we may have created some of them, too.

Most telling recent example? Who became the abiding hero in the Game of Thrones series? Yes, Tyrion, the dwarf. Continue reading

World-building

World building fantasy mirrorAt a recent conference I discovered that Georgette Heyer has had a considerable influence on science fiction and fantasy authors.

Huh?

Restrained, witty, convention-conscious Georgette and the Trekkies? Really? How? Above all, why?

Because of her world-building. Continue reading

Georgette Heyer Study Day

Georgette HeyerThis week I spent a day with Georgette Heyer. Billed as The Nonesuch Conference, this was at a hybrid gathering at London University, offering a selection of papers from accredited academics together with reader/writer participation from people labelled in the programme as independent scholars.

Clearly, and heartwarmingly, most of the speakers I heard were also fans.

Georgette Heyer regency invitationIt was preceded by a writing workshop the day before. And there was a Regency Soirée in the evening after the conference, which sounds like a lot of fun.

Sadly, I couldn’t make either of these events. For one thing I’m still convalescent. (My energy gives out unexpectedly, so I didn’t want to push it.) For another, the programme was really full. Academics seemed to be supercharged, cheerily steaming from session to session, enthusiasm still at white heat.

When I read my notes I was astonished at the sheer volume of ideas I had noted down for further consideration. Continue reading

Beautiful heroines, handsome heroes : never ugly, never bald?

Let’s hear it for the heroes! Tall, dark and handsome?

mysterious hero but is he handsome?

Hero = handsome; heroine = beautiful?
Bestselling author Susanna Kearsley published a blog last week that asks a thought-provoking question about romantic heroines:  — why is it that “some readers, when faced with a blank face, are programmed to fill in the features as ‘beautiful’?”

Good question.
A disturbing question, too, perhaps.

But what about the heroes? Do we readers fill in male features in a similar way? Why?
Do the heroes of our imagination have to be tall, dark and handsome? Continue reading