Brandon and I like a lot of the same movies and shows, but my favorite genre doesn’t happen to be a shared preference. One of the greatest days of my life was when he was required to watch the Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet version of Sense and Sensibility for his film class. Sigh…
One day last week he was busy, so I decided to take advantage of the time to watch one of “my kind of movies.” I turned on Netflix, and tried to pretend I’d find something I’d like by browsing the available titles. Browsing Netflix is probably one of the most fruitless activities I’ve ever participated in, but I seem to do it frequently. Until Netflix, I never realized just how many movies there are in the world that I would never even consider watching. They happen to make up about 99% of Netflix. It boggles the mind. One of the shows recommended for me was The Paradise. I had seen it on the recommendations before, but I assumed it would be a badly-done, knock-off Downton Abbey. (If only I’d noticed it was a BBC production…) Buuut I didn’t want to browse that night, so I played a few minutes of it anyway.
Sixteen hour-long episodes (by myself), and week later, I’m done. If you’re wondering how I managed to watch 16 hours of a show by myself in the space of one week, when I work full time and spend my free time with my husband who refused to watch with me, you’re probably not the only one. I amaze even myself. Brandon found me one morning at 6:45 watching an episode. What can I say? When I’m hooked, I. Am. Hooked. I hadn’t realized that The Paradise is an adaptation of the French novel Au bonheur des dames by Émile Zola. My next plan is to read the book. I recommend The Paradise series to anyone who enjoys 19th century literature. Then again, I’m addicted to 19th century literature. And while I”m recommending 19th century literature, I may as well reveal my deep, dark secret.
My mom and I share a lot of the same interests when it comes to literature. She has introduced me to some real treasures–from Shakespeare to Austen to Brontë to Donne and on and on. About ten years ago, when I asked her (as I always have) what book I should read next, she recommended one called These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer. I was reluctant. Why, you may ask? Well, I had seen many Georgette Heyer novels around my grandma’s house, my aunts’ houses, and my own house. Can you blame me for being hesitant to read something that looked like this?
Bath Tangle? Really?
Looking at that cover, I felt like my mom might as well tell me to pick up some grocery store sleaze. Right? Luckily, my mom is a classy woman whose taste I trust. And the cover of These Old Shades was relatively mellow.
So I read it.
And I loved it.
And after I read that Heyer book, I wanted more. So I read another. And another. And another. Until I’d read 46 of her 52 romance and mystery books. I even read Bath Tangle. And guess what, guys? Bath Tangle refers not to a sketchy meeting in the shower room, but to a perfectly respectable story set in BATH, ENGLAND. Get your mind out of the gutter. And guess what else? The main woman in the story–her hair is RED. Not blonde. And there’s no kissing in the book. So WHY ON EARTH would someone choose such a cover? Someone has some explaining to do. Thankfully, the more recent editions have much more innocuous and accurate covers.
If you enjoy Austen and Brontë, Georgette Heyer is your next stop. If you’ve craved more Darcy and Bennett, more Jane and Rochester, to the point that you’ve read something like Austenland or Edenbrooke, put down whatever book you’re reading, and pick up a Georgette Heyer. Her novels are fun. They’re engaging. They’re clever. They’re quick reads. And they’ve taught me more about English history and culture than I ever imagined I’d know. I’ve read and reread them. And I will continue to.
If you want to be a 19th century hipster and learn the meaning of great slang like
“he stuck his spoon in the wall”
“offering someone the Spanish coin”
“doing it much too brown”
or “pitching the gammon,”
Georgette Heyer is your woman. I could totally carry on a conversation with a someone from 1820 and come out appearing to be “all the crack.”
That’s my deep, dark secret. If anyone were to call me a nerd, it would probably be for my love and knowledge of this time period.
So if you see me in the (utterly embarrassing) romance section of Barnes and Noble, holding a book that looks like this
or this (the short description of the novel–which is primarily about the Battle of Watterloo–is my fav)
don’t think I’ve descended into a 19th-century world of 50 Shades of Grey. Stop thinking about anything and pick one up for yourself.