12 thoughts on “Gender performativity at its best: Georgette Heyer’s The Masqueraders

  1. Thank you! I’m always bemused when people dismiss Georgette Heyer as another Barbara Cartland, the stuff of schoolgirl daydream reading. They can’t have opened one. Is the proof of the pudding her huge male as well as female fan base (though I have noticed men are occasionally sheepish about admitting to be an admirer – possibly because of the covers …)

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  2. Oh, such a well-written overview! I enjoyed it very much. I can’t remember if I have read this particular Heyer, or not, but I do think she is a superb (and under-rated) storyteller. Plus if one loves history with their stories, she brings it! Your comment about the ‘chaos and mayhem’ endings…definitely one of the things I loved best about her stories. I think The Grand Sophy stands out as a favorite, and particularly the ending was memorable. To me (a non Brit who loves British humor) it had overtones of the final madcap scene of the movie Clockwise, with John Cleese. Deliciously chaotic.

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  3. And if ever we are too ill or tired to read The Grand Sophy (my favourite too!) we can listen to the audiobook superbly read by John Westbrook. Most of the other novels are read by women, which somehow doesn’t work as well, but Cornelius Garrett does a splendid job reading The Reluctant Widow.

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  4. I’ve been in love with Sir Anthony for about 58 years, give or take! Used to have to ration myself to one GH at a time from the library.

    Entirely agree with those who say that anyone who criticises her work as novelettish simply hasn’t opened one of her books, rather as Joanna Trollope got lumbered with the “Aga saga” tag despite quite evidently doing a lot of research as well as sharp observation for her fiction.

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  5. I’ve been reading and rereading Heyer with pleasure for over a decade now but this remains one of the very few of her 18th and 19th century novels I haven’t read yet (I think The Black Moth is the only other one). After far too much Shakespeare in school, I ran as far as I could from any more cross-dressing story lines. I think I’ve had sufficient time to recover and I’m now eager to fill the gap in my reading!


  6. I wonder how much of The Masqueraders reflects how Heyer felt about fulfilling the role of breadwinner within her family? Or the expectations and experiences of a generation of women who had a whole new range of opportunities, but also a lack of men to go round. I need to re read this one now and have a good think about it.


    1. Golly, yes, I hadn’t begun to link the timing of the novels with her own life. I think there would be more of a Frederica feel to a novel about feeling the breadwinning burden, whereas The Masqueraders is about delight in playing a part and the pursuit of integrity throughout.


  7. I enjoyed your review very much and will be exploring your site futher! I am a 41 year old Male and I have only read a handful of Heyer novels but have enjoyed them all (originally having borrowed them from my Mum on childhood holidays when I had read all of my own holiday reading!!) My absolute favourite is ‘These Old Shades’ which I now also have on audiobook and would recommend to anyone – great fun!


  8. I worked in the Glasgow libraries in my summers off from university. 8 weeks of stamping Mills & Boon, Louis L’Amour, John Creasey & Georgette Heyer. The latter being very popular in Dennistoun. I, callow youth, lumped them altogether. How wrong I was! I’ve read and enjoyed Frederica and The Spanish Bride. And Dostoyevsky now seems a distant memory.


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