Monday, August 18, 2003

Georgette Heyer

It was at Petrodvorets that I finally realised why every touristy palace and the museums were so familiar. I was walking along the gardens and came across a couple of Russians decked up in regency outfits. They looked so out of place among the crowds of tourists but strangely enough looked perfectly in place amidst the grandeur of the place. They were standing in certain corners waiting for tourists, to trap them into posing for photographs with them for a fee, of course. I watched them out of the corner of my eye for quite some time, and later as I saw a couple of gorgeously dressed women gently stroll past the fountains, I realised why the Victorian women took so much obsessive care with their costumes: it makes them look like goddesses. I have seen regency outfits many times on TV or in movies, but there is nothing to beat the live flesh and blood version. It's enough to make anybody want to take a fancy bow just for the honour of kissing a hand. And then it all came back- the incessant sense of familiarity. I have been fed a steady diet of Georgette Heyer's books all through my early reading period and must admit that this is the only sort of romance books that I have been able to read, enough to recommend to others. My neighbour was a hardcore addict and had an almost complete collection of Heyers and I think I've managed to read every one of them. Heyer wove mysteries into her regency romances, and filled them with humour and intrigue and above all promised a good read. In the museums in St. Petersburg, I kept coming across things like carriages and costumes- the very vocabulary of which I first heard about through Heyer. Austen may have the name but Heyer was the one who made the Victorian world come alive to me.