Do you re-read books? I do. They’re like old friends that I visit with from time to time. The words run across the page, filling my mind with welcome, familiar images, but it’s the emotions they evoke that really capture me, and bring me back again and again.
Lately I’ve been reading and re-reading some of my favorite books for research. Jane Austen, Robert Heinlein and Edgar Rice Burroughs have all been in the rotation. Recently, I needed some insights into character dialogue, so I went to one who excelled at witty banter between clever and believable characters, Georgette Heyer.
Are you familiar with Georgette Heyer? If you write romance or read romance you need to check out her Regency novels. Blazoned across the top of each tattered copy I own, ‘Hers set the style for all the rest.’ It’s true! Georgette led me to Jane Austen, and every other Regency romance is measured against their standards.
Since she was writing in the 1920’s, her language may seem stilted or difficult to follow to more modern readers. Some of her sentences become very involved, and as familiar as they are, I find myself having to go over them once or twice to get the gist of what she’s saying. But that is their charm, and what draws you in. She takes you into the world of fashionable London during the reign of the Prince Regent. From 1811 – 1820, or 1795 – 1837, depending on how you’re slicing it, the Regency period in England is the transition between the Georgian and Victorian eras. When you read Georgette Heyer, you sink into this lost era, the one that brought us Lord Byron and Mary Shelley.
If you want character development, clever twists, and just plain fun, you cannot do better than to read Bath Tangle, the one I just finished tonight. Lover’s triangles, high society, and the lovingly detailed backdrop of Bath, England are blended together charmingly in this frothy romp.
I was looking for arguments, conflicts and fiery exchanges between characters that are desperately in love with each other and trying just as desperately not to show it. Through Lady Serena Carlow and the Marquis of Rotherham, Ms. Heyer dishes up some delightfully spicy fights. Plenty of flame and passion, yet these characters…wait I don’t want to spoil it! Read it and let me know what you think.
My old friends inspire me to be a better writer. I try and write the kind of stories I want to read, and to recapture that sense of wonder I spend time with those stories that have moved me, elated me, made me cry, and made me laugh. I find there are no better teachers.
Do you re-read old favorites? Or go through books once, and then never look back? What writers have inspired you?