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Sunday 5 June 2016

Rollicking Regency Fun

Nella laughs her way through some Regency romps.

In my teens, I was a fan of Georgette Heyer and Baroness Orczy. Serendipity made me read Garth Nix’s Newt’s Emerald (Allen & Unwin) (CBCA Notable 2016) and Cindy Anstey’s Love, Lies and Spies (St Martins Press) consecutively. Both are throwbacks to Georgette Heyer – witty language, predictable plots, little character development yet thoroughly enjoyable.

On her eighteenth birthday, Lady Truthful, nicknamed “Newt,” inherits her family’s treasure, the Newington Emerald, which bestows its wearer with magical powers. The emerald is stolen; a disguised Truthful (with magical moustache) sets off to find the gem; on her journey she meets a handsome man, confounds an evil sorceress, has many adventures and falls in love. Garth Nix is a brilliant writer layering the story with many tongue-in-cheek moments including the obligatory elderly chaperone with swordstick. Join Garth Nix as he talks about his Newt’s Emerald and the background research and writing process.

Cindy Anstey’s Juliana is in London for the Season, but rather than find a match, her ambition is to publish her findings on ladybugs and then return home to nurse her ailing father. Meanwhile, Juliana has to cope with driving her buggy off a cliff, dealing with mean girls determined to ruin her and finding a friend in trainee spy, Spencer Northam. 

Both books are witty light-hearted romps, part comedy of manners, part adventure stories and for Nix, part fantasy. (PS much tamer than Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate and with as much verbal sparring as the later Pink Carnation novels of Lauren Willig).

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