Friday, August 13, 2010

Heyer and Austen--Readers' Delights

"Pistols for Two, Breakfast for One"--a chilling reminder of the purpose of any duel; to put a period to the existence of one's opponent. But in the hands of the inimitable Georgette Heyer, a duel becomes a delightful story about the maturing of two young men, and the happiness of a young lady. "Pistols for Two" is the title of that story and it is the title of the anthology of eleven short stories in which it appears.

The anthology "Pistols for Two" was first published in 1960. It has always, to me, seemed like a box of the finest sweets, a thrill to open, and a delight to savour the contents. The stories vary from the light and delicious Bath Miss to the mysterious and enjoyably chilling Night at the Inn. The very first heroine (I think) won by a gamble is Helen Morland in Hazard, and the mistaken identity in Full Moon is the epitome of charm.

I cannot recommend Heyer's only anthology highly enough, and I have always regretted that she produced just one collection of short stories. You may have gathered by now that I am one of Georgette Heyer's most ardent fans.

But I am not the only fan. Indeed, the delightful website Austenprose is currently hosting a whole month about Georgetter Heyer's work--reviews, articles, opinions. I recommend the event highly for information, giveaways (!), and great fun.

When you are finished reading Heyer, you might want to return to the delights of Jane Austen. A book that I just completed, reflecting Jane Austen's real life, is "Dearest Cousin Jane" by Jill Pitkeathley. It is the captivating story of Jane's cousin Eliza Hancock, told in turns by herself and a variety of Austen relatives involved in her life. The voices seemed to me very accurate, and the story unfolds in delight and tragedy exactly as did the life of Jane's most charming cousin.
After completing Pitkeathley's book, I turned to a more current Jane Austen-linked offering suggested by my sister-in-law (thanks, Joan!). Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler is, in my opinion, a captivating read. There are so many of this type of book around these days (I won't be reading any of the zombie, vampire or sea monster versions, thank you) that it is difficult to discover if any of them are worth your precious reading time. I think Rude Awakenings is certainly worth the effort. The voice of the heroine is very believably Regency, her concerns, her anxieties, her courage and her personality are credible and convincing. The reason and the science for the exchange of mind and personality are of course unexplained and unexplainable but, like the best science fiction, one believes and does not question too closely.  Rigler's first book "Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict" will be next on my reading list.

I hope you are finding some delightful reading material this summer. I'd love to hear your recommendations.

'Til next time,


P.S. Here's another recent blog I discovered about Pistols for Two! First Impressions


JaneGS said...

Glad I stumbled on this post via a RT of a Tweet. I love short stories, and this anthology sounds just perfect. I'm a big fan of duel situations (at least in novels!), and always feel shortchanged that Austen gave us virtually no info about that between Willoughby and Brandon in S&S!

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

Oh, yes indeed--I wish we could have seen that confrontation. Jane left us with a number of scenes for which we must use our imagination! I'm glad you found my blog--you are most welcome.

Laurel Ann (Austenprose) said...

Lesley-Anne, I wish I could get my mits on a copy of this book. Only pubbed in UK I think last time I researched it. Maybe my library can dig up a copy somewhere in the states through loan for me.

Thanks for the shout out on my Heyer event. If I had known you are such a fan, I would have asked you to contribute a review! Next time. I promise. Cheers, Laurel Ann

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

Thanks, Laurel Ann--I'll look forward to that :) Have you tried for a used copy of Pistols for Two? It's the only way to get some things! Let's stay in touch