Monday, January 28, 2013

Jennifer Kloester's "Georgette Heyer"

While living in the jungle in Papua New Guinea Jennifer Kloester discovered Georgette Heyer's Regency novels and fell in love with the romance, the humor and the glorious prose. Ten years of research produced a PhD and two books: Georgette Heyer's Regency World (an illustrated companion to the glittering era of so many of Georgette Heyer's novels) and Georgette Heyer.

Here Kloester dreamcasts not only a biopic of her subject but adaptations of several Heyer novels as well:
Georgette Heyer was a highly intelligent, feisty woman with a great sense of humour and I can think of no one better to play her in a movie about her life than Helena Bonham Carter. As her husband, Ronald Rougier, I'd love to see Gerard Butler in the role.

My biography of Heyer takes us from the Edwardian era and the Great War right through the 1930s and 1940s, the Second World War, and the massive social upheavals of the 1950s and 1960s so there'd be lots of opportunities to create parts for some wonderful actors. I'd love to see Liam Neeson and Colin Firth as her two most influential publishers: A.S. Frere and Charles Evans of Heinemann. Those two men were responsible for the careers of some of the most famous writers of the twentieth century but they detested each other. Georgette Heyer was one of their biggest stars and she adored Frere and loathed Evans so I can see the sparks flying between them.

But it's Heyer's historical novels that would make really great films and television series.

I've always had this vision for a TV series of Heyer's brilliant novel, A Civil Contract, in which Geoffrey Rush would play the heroine's super-wealthy but vulgar father, Jonathan Chawleigh. In the novel, Chawleigh is a marvellous comic character who dominates every scene he's in. Dame Maggie Smith could play the part of Lady Nassington. Heyer wrote some great scenes for those two which would showcase their enormous talent. Toni Collette would be terrific as the heroine, Jenny Chawleigh, and Jenny's charming but emotionally-torn husband, Adam Deveril, could be played by British actor Alex Pettyfer who was so good in Magic Mike and I am Number Four. As the girl Adam gives up to save his family from ruin I'd adore to see Jayne Wisener in the role of Julia Oversley. She's beautiful like Julia and I think she could play the part of the narcissistic, over-romantic 'third party in the marriage' really well.

Another Heyer novel that I'd love to see on film is The Talisman Ring. It's a very funny book and the part of Sir Hugh Thane might have been specially written for Stephen Fry (who is a big Heyer fan). As his sister Sarah Thane, I'd cast Bonnie Wright, and either Ben Barnes or Stephen Moyer could play the irrepressible Ludovic Lavenham to Anna Popplewell's Eustacie de Vauban. As the hero, Sir Tristram Shield, no one could be better than the fabulous Richard Armitage and I know he'd win every heart including Sarah's! As for the villain, Basil Lavenham, Daniel Day Lewis would be perfect.

There are at least a dozen Heyer novels that would make terrific films and all of them are set in the same period as Jane Austen's novels. They're romantic and dashing and funny and clever and I can think of loads of great actors who could bring them brilliantly to life on the screen especially if Tom Hooper were in the Director's chair. Hooper has a great sense of story and a wonderful aesthetic eye and he would know exactly how to convey the style and humour of a Heyer novel just as he did in The King’s Speech.
Learn more about the book and author at Jennifer Kloester's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue