If We Lived in Georgette Heyer's Version Of Regency England . . .
Posted 19 January 2009 in Books by Catriona
We’d all have splitting headaches all the time. (And probably a strong dislike of rhodomontade, but I only bring that up because I really wanted an excuse to use the word “rhodomontade” in cold blood, as it were.)
But, back to the relatively serious portion of the blog post, has anyone else noticed (assuming, for the purposes of this argument, that everyone reads Heyer novels) that Heyer’s characters are far more profligate with exclamation marks than anyone really should be?
Take this passage from the end of Friday’s Child (1944):
I don’t think there’s a single piece of dialogue in there that doesn’t end with either a question mark or an exclamation mark.
(All the questions seem to be rhetorical, as well—which would drive me nuts if I found myself stuck inside a Georgette Heyer plot. I mean, it’s all very well for the villain—and we can tell Sir Montague is the villain because he speaks “silkily.” Only villains speak “silkily”—to threaten the heroine with exposure, but can’t he do it in a statement? If it were me to whom he said, “I wonder if you will live to regret it? Do you know, I believe that you may?” I’d be furious that he hadn’t given me a chance to answer myself. I might have been able to offer an alternative, after all. That’s why I’m not the heroine of a Regency romance, you see.)
And it only gets worse after the villain draws a sword on the hero’s proxy:
I suppose we’re lucky at this point that there weren’t more italics, as well as all the exclamation marks.
And I think some of these exclamation marks could actually be question marks—“What have I done!”, for example. So it’s not as though we couldn’t have had a little variety in our punctuation marks.
Fans of Georgette Heyer and her ilk often rave about the architecture, the fashion, and the etiquette of the Regency period, and I don’t deny that it’s a place I’d like to visit if I every manage to wangle my way into the TARDIS.
But if everyone’s going to be wandering around exclaiming all their statements at the top of their voices or conversing exclusively in questions that they don’t give anyone a chance to answer?
I think Regency England might have just slipped down the list a little.
Maybe below Pompeii on Volcano Day.