About six weeks ago, I received a lovely shock! A box arrived by UPS from Mullica Hill, New Jersey. I've never heard of it either. The box was very heavy. I ripped it open, sure it had to be some kind of mistake, It wasn't. The note atop the tight stack of books began, "Dear Muriel."
FLASHBACK: I've mentioned before that between my two writing careers, I worked for an accounting office for seven years. There were several partners involved, and one in particular was great fun because he'd been in a rock band, had bit parts in a couple of movies, but had now settled down to life in Astoria. I loved that he read Variety, knew who was married to whom in Hollywood, what they were really like in person.
His wife, who visited the office now and again, was as interesting as he was because she'd been in his rock band and now taught accounting at the community college. One summer, her aunt came to visit. My desk was in the reception area, so she and I chatted while she waited for her niece to be ready to go home. She was a tall, elegant lady in her late seventies named Mary Rose. I'm not sure whether she did it, or I did it, but the topic came around to books. We talked and laughed for half an hour over our mutual love for Georgette Heyer.
Until her Georgette Heyer collection appeared on my doorstep.
The note was from her niece, saying that Mary Rose remembered meeting me and felt that we'd forged a bond over those Regency period books. She wanted me to have her collection. As I write this, it makes me cry again. Who cares about money and power when you can inherit someone's magic coach ride to another time and place? When they've lived a lifetime, and remember you?
I have 29 books. I don't think it's a complete collection but some are so old that spines have been taped together, and one of the books sold for 30p (whatever that is) in England in the 50s.
On the back of Devil's Cub, her first book, is a brief biography. "Georgette Heyer was born in England in August, 1902. Educated at numerous high-class seminaries, she did not go to college nor did she pass Matriculation or any other kind of examination. She wrote her first novel when she was seventeen, and published it at the age of nineteen, in 1921." (Hard not to hate her for that.)
As fate would have it, I've been plotting a mainstream book about an author who makes the change from contemporary romance to Regencies and I'd begun reading the library's copy of Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer to get reacquainted with the language and manners. And now the period is all around me, on my desk, on the edge of the futon, on my printer, and in an organized pile on my bookcase - where there really isn't room for anything else. Except George Heyer - who was willed to me by Mary Rose.