As some of you may remember, during the RWA Beau Monde’s 2015 celebration of the eightieth anniversary of the Regency romance novel, I wrote a weekly Georgette Heyer poll here on my site as my way of contributing to the festivities. These polls were quite popular at the time and a great way for Heyer lovers to connect over favourite characters, favourite scenes, and best loved phrases. It was during this time that romance authors Avril Tremayne and Jane Godman, editor Ali Williams, and I formed our own little Heyer group which Ali affectionately named the “Dash it Alls” in honour of Freddy Standen from Heyer’s 1953 novel Cotillion.
Over the next three months, each of the #DashItAlls will be contributing a post here at MimiMatthews.com on the novels of Georgette Heyer and how Heyer’s writing has influenced our own work. Now, we don’t all write Regency romance. Ali is an editor and academic, Jane writes paranormal romance and suspense, Avril writes romances set in the twenty-first century, and I write romances set in both Regency and Victorian England. Nevertheless, Heyer has influenced all of us in ways both big and small. For example, Avril and Jane both have upcoming books with heroes named Sylvester—a tribute to Heyer’s 1957 novel Sylvester, or The Wicked Uncle.
In my own writing, one of the most influential aspects of Georgette Heyer’s novels has been her use of language, particularly the often humorous exclamations by various male characters. These exclamations vary widely, from a simple “Good God!” uttered by a horrified Viscount Sheringham in Friday’s Child to a “Silence, rattle!” commanded by Sir Vincent Talgarth in The Grand Sophy. And, of course, there’s Freddy in Cotillion who, at my last count, uttered the phrase “dash it” more than thirty times throughout the course of the novel.
These exclamations, generally consisting of less than three words, are often more eloquent than a paragraph long speech. They can convey anger, frustration, disgust, good humour, and—in some cases—the first sign of love developing between the characters. When coupled with “kindling eyes,” lips that quiver, and expressions that are “hard to read,” one can understand exactly how the character is feeling at any given moment.
While these sorts of exclamations may not technically qualify as “Heyerisms,” to me they are quintessentially Heyer. They are also a reminder in my own writing that long speeches, minute descriptions, and detailed inventories of a character’s feelings are sometimes not as impactful as a scornful “Good God” or a frustrated “Dash it all.”
The next post in this series will be out next month. In the meanwhile, if you would like to learn more about my fellow #DashItAlls, Avril, Jane, and Ali, click through to their individual blogs/websites via the links below.
**If you are new to the novels of Georgette Heyer, I highly recommend Venetia (linked above). Not only is it my favourite Heyer novel, it is one of my favourite romances of all time. If you dislike Heyer or romances in general, have no fear. I will be back with a post on 19th century history next week!
Heyer, Georgette. Cotillion. New York: Putnam, 1953.
Heyer, Georgette. Frederica. New York: Dutton, 1965.
Heyer, Georgette. Friday’s Child. New York: Putnam, 1971.
Heyer, Georgette. The Grand Sophy. New York: Putnam, 1950
Heyer, Georgette. Sylvester; Or, The Wicked Uncle. New York: Putnam, 1957.
Heyer, Georgette. Venetia. New York: Putnam, 1959.
© 2015-2021 Mimi Matthews
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