I’ve been doing a great deal of reading lately, thanks to pulling my hamstring recently and spending a lot of time on the sofa (special thanks to all the family members who’ve been helping me out with my kids during this time: you all are amazing!). And, in my reading binge, I’ve been reading a lot of Georgette Heyer’s. They’re one of my favorites when I don’t feel the greatest. They’re diverting, distracting, and uncomplicated. Her romances aren’t really profound or even always historically accurate (in tone and attitude, at least), but they’re breezy, somewhat frothy pieces of fiction.
But they can be predictable. As I read along, I found myself thinking “something like this happened in one of her other books,” and I figured out that there are at least four stock plots that are repeated throughout her novels. I think she relied on these to help her be as prolific and productive as she was, and she may not have even been aware of the similarities. (Her books that fit into the Alastair series, starting with These Old Shades, seem to do better at breaking out of the molds, as do her non-Regency period novels, and, not having read the mysteries, I cannot comment on them.)
First, there is the “Young-Lady-Coming-to-London-and-Getting-into-Scapes” plot. Arabella and Frederica both fit this, where the title characters drag their prospective suitors into rescuing them and their siblings from all sorts of problems. The Grand Sophy takes this plot device and turns it on its head so that the girl rescues her relatives out of their problems, even as she gets herself into scrapes.
Then there is the “New-Heir-Coming-into-His-Property” model. The Quiet Gentleman, The Nonesuch, and The Unknown Ajax use this story idea, fleshing out variations on the theme.
And then we have “A-Young-Woman-Running-about-the-Country-in-Need-of-an-Escort.” This is Sprig Muslin, parts of Sylvester or The Wicked Uncle, Charity Girl, The Foundling, and The Corinthian. Interestingly, sometimes the young woman becomes the man’s love interest, sometimes not.
Finally, we have the “Newly-Married-Couple-Who-Disover-They-Love-Each-Other.” This category includes The Convenient Marriage, Friday’s Child, A Civil Contract, and April Lady.
The rest of her novels take bits and pieces of these stories at times, but they tend to follow more unique routes of bringing the happy couples together. Still, having written over fifty novels, she certainly is not to blame if fifteen or so repeat themselves. 🙂
If you’ve ever read some of her novels, and enjoyed the situations the characters found themselves in, I’d highly recommend picking up the other novels that emulate the same plots. They won’t be duplicates but enjoyable “reboots” of the same concept with different characters, different problems, and sometimes, different outcomes.
What about you? Do gravitate towards certain plots in your writing or reading? Can you think of any other historical romances (by Georgette Heyer or other authors) that also follow these general, stock plots?
Copyright Andrea Lundgren 2015 Photo Fog é›¾ by 55Laney69, used per Creative Commons