Regency Turns 80 — Arabella

Silhouettes of a man and woman in Regency dress against a background of the number 80

Arabella is one of Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances which is set primarily in London. As romance author, Wareeze Woodson, explains, the romance of the heroine and her hero are set against the glittering London social season. Even so, we soon see that both of these characters are neither shallow nor brittle social creatures. Instead, each is naturally compassionate and has a strong sense of social responsibility. But will those admirable sensibilities be enough to bring them together for their happily ever after, regardless of their various contretemps?

Comments about this Regency romance are most welcome.

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Young girl in a white dress and bonnet seated on a bench in a lush parkland.

Arabella, a true daughter of the Regency era, abided by the conduct expected of a well brought up young lady—most of the time. Although she always strove to win her parent’s approval, on a much anticipated trip to London with only an old governess to say her nay, she succumbed to a bout of temper setting her on a path to ruination.

She sought to teach a certain Mr. Beaumarais a most needed lesson. How dared he imagine she would attempt to attract his attention by any means possible? Such a haughty gentleman would never win her hand, however wealthy or well connected. Two adversaries, each searching for an advantage over the other, make a delightful romp through the pages of Arabella.

Respectability comes at a price. One Arabella had always been willing to pay. Hedged about by proprieties and held to a high standard of conduct, would she prefer her historical period or embrace ours?

If Arabella landed on the beach during Spring Break today, would she flee with all haste back into the covers of her book? Would she swoon when the scantily clad girls removed the tops of their swimwear before everyone? Some girls even cussed the thought of their parents and any rules of behavior thought proper. With everyone drinking in excess, having sexes before thousands of people there on the beach where guns and drugs were the norm, would Arabella close her eyes in dismay and wish for a return to the Regency era?

Don’t forget her love waiting for her in London. Mr. Beaumarais may have indulged in a romp with some of the girls behind closed doors. Most gentlemen of the time, regardless of his low opinion of such girls, would take advantage of the situation. Steady and true, Mr. Beaumarais would never do so after his affections became engaged. He would always choose his delightful Arabella to wife.

Arabella, with many of the ills of Regency England appearing before her, threw the strict observance of society rules to the four winds. When confronted by a situation she deemed worthy of defense, she flew to the rescue of the less fortunate regardless of her own comfort or her reputation.

Even Robert Beaumarais, a dashing man-about-town, fell under her spell and considered her impulsive actions praiseworthy. When he realized his interest was indeed fixed on this particular young lady, he had no idea if she cared for him or not. Now he must win her trust and love.

Visiting the Regency era is an enchantment, offering glimpses of young ladies in ball gowns and dashing gentlemen doing the pretty at Almack’s complete with the kissing of hands. Assisting a lady from a carriage, riding in the fashionable hours in the park and in general abiding by the civilities to one another offered in the period, is a treat. A spirited young lady and a charming gentleman furnish much delight across the pages of a Regency novel. The tempestuous battle, between Arabella and Robert in the Regency era, keep the reader engaged to the very end.

Find Wareeze Woodson at:




Twitter:   @wareeze

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  1. this is my favourite Georgette Heyer book and I have read my copy so many times it is falling apart!!!! I love the end where she thinks she is eloping to get the money to save her brother and then wonders how she is going to ask for the money immediately when she is supposed to be an heiress!!! Thank you for choosing this book.

  2. Arabella is near the top of my list of favourite Georgette Heyer books. I adore it. I absolutely love the heroine and the hero is my fave type, a top lofty leader of the pack who falls really hard, and it’s an absolute pleasure watching him fall under the heroine’s spell, and she is totally oblivious. This book has my favourite exchange of all her books in it, it’s so Georgette Heyer and it always makes me laugh out loud.

    “Have you any brothers?” demanded Mr. Beaumaris.
    “No,” said Mr. Scunthorpe, blinking at him. “Only child.”
    “You relieve my mind. Offer my congratulations to your parents!”
    Mr. Scunthorpe thought this over, with knit brow, but could make nothing of it. He put Mr. Beaumaris right on one point “Only one parent,” he said. “Father died three months after I was born.”
    “Very understandable,” said Mr. Beaumaris. “I am astonished that he lingered on for so long.

    1. Vickie, I love it! (It’s been way too long since I reread Arabella, so your excerpt there came as new to me. Thanks!) I do love it when characters are so witty and dry that the other characters don’t even realize they’re joking… 😉

  3. I adore this book, for all the reasons mentioned in the post and in Vickie’s comment. It’s a truly hilarious story with an engaging and very human/humane couple at its core. Plus, any book that so prominently features a dog–and gets it right–features even higher on my list!

  4. Thank you for the article, Wareeze! Arabella is one of my favorite of Georgette Heyer’s novels. Not just for the romance, the humor, and the history, but for those glimpses of social ills Heyer gives us and the chance to see how our conscientious heroine responds to them. A stand out moment for me – as an animal lover and advocate – is when Arabella leaps down from Robert’s curricle to rescue Ulysses the dog from the band of cruel boys who are torturing him. The part that Ulysses plays in the rest of the story is delightful and there are few Georgette Heyer novels that do a better job of showcasing Heyer’s own love of dogs.

    1. And it’s so amusing that the dog fell for the hero and vice versa. That top lofty leader of the pack falling for a mongrel, so cool.

  5. This is also one of my favorites among Heyer’s Regencies, in large part because Arabella was such a kind-hearted young woman who cares nothing for anyone’s opinion when she sees a wrong.

    And, some years later, after multiple readings, I came to the conclusion that Heyer was having a bit of fun with the hero’s last name, since Beau Maris is French for “handsome husbands.”


    1. Thanks for the tip, Kathryn! If I ever go husband-hunting at the Marriage Mart, I will keep an eye out for the shop called Beau Maris. 🙂

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