Pick Me! Pick Me! Casting Call for Georgette Heyer

PINK HEART SOCIETY COLUMN

I’m not saying this is a universal truth, but I am saying it’s a widespread phenomenon: ask a romance writer for a list of their key influencers and Georgette Heyer’s name will crop up. It doesn’t matter what subgenre they write, historical or contemporary, sweet or sexy, Georgette makes the list so often, it’s uncanny.

Georgette Heyer was a British author (1902-1975), best known for her Georgian and Regency romances, but who also wrote a dozen detective novels, a smattering of contemporaries, and a few novels set in other historical periods. She published her first book, The Black Moth, set in the Georgian era, at the age of 17! Remarkable – or am I the only writer who comes across the scribblings of their 17-year-old self and wants to get out the matches and set fire to them?

Heyer was a consistent best-seller despite never giving interviews, and was selling a million copies of her books a year in Britain alone at the time of her death. (Alison Flood, The Guardian, June 6,2015)

Some excellent authors have taken the Regency romance Heyer basically invented into new territory, but she remains as relevant today as when her books first appeared. That's because...

  • Her books are meticulously researched, bringing the details of that time vividly to life.

  • She’s witty and clever, and writes dialogue that sings, making you laugh out loud, your heart soar, and your body swoon with longing.

  • She writes heroes and heroines of all persuasions – beautiful and plain; street-smart and naive; complicated and simple; fiery and calm – and somehow makes every one of them not only different, but endearing and intriguing.

  • Her secondary characters leap off the page so that you wish they were part of your own life, with all their well-drawn idiosyncrasies and eccentricities to charm and delight you.

There are books and articles aplenty on the wonderful Georgette Heyer, so that's as far as I'm going to go here – but the reason she's so much on my mind at the moment is that at long last, it seems a film of one of her most delightful novels is in the works. Yes, The Grand Sophy is being made into a movie. (You can read about it here.)

This of course has sparked quite a lot of social media discussion among her devoted fans, including me, so I thought I'd share my top 10 Heyer novels with a little suggestion here and there as to ideal casting…

1. Sylvester

Now, I was certain I was keeping the role of the proud, autocratic, loyal Sylvester for Aidan Turner – just his eyebrows alone should clinch it. But I've had an epiphany, placing Aidan elsewhere on this list and barracking instead for Sam Claflin.

2. Friday’s Child

I'm going with Nicholas Hoult as the youthful, dashing, confident Sherry. And let's pop Kit Harrington (Jon Snow for the Game of Thrones watchers) into the tempestuous and Byronic George Wrotham role. I'm open to suggestions for the innocent and lively heroine. (Side note: I almost named my daughter Hero after Friday’s Child’s heroine, Hero Wantage!)

3. The Grand Sophy

I always thought Romola Garai would make the perfect Sophy, in the same was she made Austen’s infamous Emma come to life. But I’m not complaining about the real choice of Jessie Buckley, who seems to have the vibrant personality to carry it off. And she sings...

I’d love to see Catherine Zeta Jones as the Marquesa. Just look at here in this black lace number.

4. Venetia

Will someone please cast Richard Armitage as the rakish, world-weary Damerel pronto? (He has, of course, used his dreamy voice to narrate some of Heyer's books!)

5. Devil's Cub

Okay – this is the role for Aidan Turner. He has that edge of darkness about him, the tempestuous flare of possessiveness, the perfect hint of danger, to become Vidal. I mean, just look at him..

And while I'm on Devil's Cub, I’d love to see Stephen Fry as the droll Lord Rupert Alistair – perfection.

6. Frederica

Frederica may be the hardest part to cast. A young woman who manages her rambunctious family with the lightest of touches. Independent, sensible, straight-talking, unaffected and gracious – who manages to accidentally attract the jaded, selfish Marquis of Alverstock! Very difficult – but I'd give Hayley Atwell a try at this one.

7. Cotillion

Cotillion has one of the most adored of all Heyer’s heroes. Freddy Standish is not your usual alpha hero of radiant testosterone and bulging muscles. Au contraire, he's always exquisitely dressed, his manners are impeccable, and he's cast in the shadow of his seriously buff and handsome cousin Jack. I would love to see Jack Farthing, the villainous George Warleggan of Poldark, become the hero this time around.

8. The Quiet Gentleman

Who would be better than Tom Hiddleston for Gervase Frant, the seventh Earl of St Erth – he of the perfect smile and guinea gold hair? And for Miss Drusilla Morville, one of my all time favourite heroines, who is prosaic and unromantic and quite, quite wonderful…? My suggestion is Yasmin Paige.

9. Black Sheep

For the careless, rakish Miles Calverleigh, a guy who has lived, my pick is Ioan Gruffud.

10. Bath Tangle

The heroine, Serena Carlow, is a gal with confidence and beauty. She's headstrong and independent, and the gorgeous Rosamund Pike would be perfect.

I relish every chance I get to delve into Georgette Heyer, so please share your favourite novels, favourite characters and preferred actors for the roles.

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