The best books for Regency wars, wit, & wisdom

The Books I Picked & Why

Persuasion

By Jane Austen

Book cover of Persuasion

Why this book?

I chose the author’s last complete novel, posthumously published, instead of the more famous Pride & Prejudice, though I allow myself to re-read both once a decade. There’s a poignancy from an author who understands the consequences of missed opportunity. Anne Elliot was unwisely persuaded to reject the man she loved. Several years later she is effectively an old maid, while his fortunes have risen and make him a fine catch. Fate throws them together but old wounds run deep, creating suffering on both sides.


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The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain

By Ian Mortimer

Book cover of The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain

Why this book?

The extended period of the Regency takes us from 1789 to 1830. It’s a period of repeated war with Napoleon Bonaparte, the opening up of travel and great social and political change. Do you want to know what to wear to a ball at the Prince Regent’s Brighton Pavilion or how you might journey from London to Bath? Dr. Mortimer takes you there with a broad brush and a light touch.


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Vanity Fair

By William Makepeace Thackeray

Book cover of Vanity Fair

Why this book?

Written more than thirty years after the Napoleonic Wars, Thackeray’s novel says a great deal about Regency morality and behaviour. Anti-heroine Becky Sharp is a penniless young woman on the make who considers morals and fair play to be a luxury. Becky moves with the changing times, aiming to advance and profit from every useful contact – particularly male. In short, she uses people and none more so than her supportive friend Amelia Sedley. As time sweeps on, Becky often goes too far but will she get her comeuppance?


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An Infamous Army: A Novel of Wellington, Waterloo, Love and War

By Georgette Heyer

Book cover of An Infamous Army: A Novel of Wellington, Waterloo, Love and War

Why this book?

What to choose from this unique writer, who brought the Regency back into 21st century fashion with her large catalogue of novels? I love them all. They’re uniformly hilarious, adventurous, and full of mind-boggling, funny dialogue. Her detailed research is never more brilliantly revealed than in this novel, which is still highly prized by senior military figures as the greatest account of the Battle of Waterloo. All this, in a novel which succeeds on its own terms as a story. What more could one want?


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Jane Austen: A Life

By Claire Tomalin

Book cover of Jane Austen: A Life

Why this book?

More books have been written about Jane Austen than she wrote herself. Some are scholarly while others clearly seek the titbit which will guarantee sales. Experienced biographer Tomalin walks the sensible path through the great novelist’s life, whose works were attributed only to having been written by a lady. Facts are combined with a well-written and often entertaining narrative. The extensive book is well researched and covers the author’s nearest, dearest as well as the detested.


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