All my Book Depository preorders are coming home to roost! I ordered these lovely books months ago, as soon as I knew they were on the horizon, so it’s been a real treat to come home & find packages on the doorstep this week. Vintage have reprinted Nancy Mitford’s four historical biographies. I’ve bought Voltaire in Love & Frederick the Great but not The Sun King or Madame de Pompadour, which I already own. I also have the Capuchin editions of Christmas Pudding & Pigeon Pie to come but they’re not published until the end of the month.
Alison Weir is one of my favourite writers of historical biography & her latest subject is Mary Boleyn. Mary has always been quite a shadowy figure. She avoided the fall of her sister, Anne, & brother, George but has been best known for having been the mistress of two kings – Francis I of France & Henry VIII. In recent years, Mary has been the subject of historical novels including Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl which started that dreadful fashion for headless women on book covers, as well as perpetuating some of the myths about Mary & her character & starting a few new ones. I’m looking forward to seeing what Alison Weir has managed to discover about the real Mary.
I’ve only become a fan of the novels of Georgette Heyer in the last few years. I didn’t read Regency romances as a teenager which seems to be the time when most women fall in love with Heyer’s heroes. I started reading her books with the encouragement of my online bookgroup, some of whom are big fans & know the books backwards. So, I asked for recommendations & read A Civil Contract which I enjoyed very much. I prefer the books with older heroines – I’m too old to have much in common with young flibbertigibbets – & since then, I’ve enjoyed half a dozen more including Lady of Quality, The Black Sheep, The Reluctant Widow & The Nonesuch. So, I was pleased to hear about this new biography of Heyer who was a notoriously private woman. I’d read Jane Aiken Hodge’s biography but there was still a lot to be discovered & Jennifer Kloester has worked on her book for over 10 years. She had the help of Jane Aiken Hodge & Heyer’s son & I’m hoping for lots of detail about how she wrote her books which are famous for the extensive research & accuracy of historical detail. There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle in the Press already about comments Heyer made about Dame Barbara Cartland, accusing her of plagiarism. You can also hear an interview with Kloester & Katie Fforde on the BBC here. Just scroll down to Chapter 3 at the bottom of the page. Speaking of Jane Aiken Hodge, there’s a novelist who I would love to see reprinted. Very much in the vein of Mary Stewart. I have fond memories of her romantic suspense novels, often with historical settings like Watch the Wall My Darling & Greek Wedding. Those 1970s Pan paperback covers bring back a lot of memories.
So, what to read first? I have no idea!