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Amanda Grange

Heyer/ Wodehouse

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On his blogspot, http://wenlock.blogspot.com Stephen Bowden asks why Georgetter Heyer is rarely read by men and comes to the conclusion that it's because men don't know what's inside the romantic covers. So I thought I'd try and make a few converts ;)


If you like PG Wodehouse, I think you will like Heyer because the humour's similar, often wrapped up in a screwball plot, with dialogue that's sharp and witty.


If you're not used to reading anything historical, it might take a while to get used to, but it's worth the effort imo, because if you like Heyer, you have about 30 books full of wit and humour to enjoy.


Here are some tasters:

Faro's Daughter - screwball comedy. The hero's rude to the heroine, she has him kidnapped and tied up in the basement. Her brother frees him, and the hero, incensed to learn the heroine wasn't behind it, demands to be tied up again. Think Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.


The Talisman Ring - a young woman who dreams of marrying a man who will ride ventre a terre (very fast) to her deathbed seems destined to marry a prosaic man until fate, in the shape of smugglers, murder and robbery, intervene.


The Grand Sophy - not one of my favourites, but v popular. 'Little' Sophy arrives, complete with monkey, and sets the household by the ears.


And my own favourite, Cotillion. The first few chapters are more long winded than is common now, but stay with it. The scenes near the end, where Dolph hides in cupboards and under the table every time he hears a carriage and thinks his mother's arriving are hilarious. Dolph would make a very good member of the Drones.

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I love the humour in Heyer's books. I don't think I have a definate favourite, I go back to them occassionally when I want something funny and entertaining to read. One of my favourite things about the books is all the interesting phrases, Regency slang or 'cant' that Heyer put in. Here's a few to bemuse your friday... how many do you think you could work into a conversation? I always thought you could spot a Heyer fan quite easily by using these!


shoot the crow - leave in a hurry without paying


Spanish coin - untrue flattery


high in the instep - haughty, proud


done to a cow's thumb - fatigued to the point of illness/fainting


dicked in the nob - crazy


sick as a cushion - very ill


properly shot in the neck - drunk


drunk as a wheelbarrow - very drunk


prime articles - women of easy virtue


pitching the gammon - lying


Friday-faced - sad looking


fair gutfounded - very hungry


fit of the blue-devils – depressed


fly to the time of day – wise to the ways of the world


elbow-crooker – drinker


drawing the bustle too freely – spending too much money


There are many many more, a lot of them to do with women of easy virtue and drinking!

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Is 'tap the claret one of Georgett Heyer's Regency slang expresions, too?

It has hung around the back of my mind for years...never had occasion to use it, though!

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'Tap the Claret' That's a good one!

I have to say I've not heard it before but its on a Jane Austen language 'regency slang' site. The phrase refers to drawing blood, claret meaning blood aparently. I think its more of a regency site more than Jane Austen.

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Well I know what I am going to say next time I go to give blood!


Out of office message

"I cannot reply to your email at the moment - I have gone to tap the claret". Whatcha reckon?!

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