Set in the Georgian period, about 20 years before the Regency, These Old Shades is considered to be the book that launched Heyer’s career. It features two of Heyer’s most memorable characters: Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, and Leonie, whom he rescues from a life of ignomy and comes to love and marry.
The Duke is known for his coldness of manner, his remarkable omniscience, and his debauched lifestyle. Late one evening, he is accosted by a young person dressed in ragged boy’s clothing running away from a brutal rustic guardian. The Duke buys “Leon” and makes the child his page. “Leon” is in fact Leonie, and she serves the Duke with deep devotion. When he uncovers the true story of her birth, he wreaks an unforgettable revenge on her sinister father in a chilling scene of public humiliation.
Georgette Heyer captivates the reader’s heart and mind in her brilliant historical novel, These Old Shades. Immediately the reader is whisked to the aristocratic societies of France and England and profoundly into the life of Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon. True many call him satanas, but can a foundling he purchases off an abusive brother on the streets one fateful evening turn the Duke’s heart forever changing his behaviour or further convince society of the Duke’s scandalous nickname. Heyer’s beautiful prose, diligent detail to descriptions and her uncanny ability to make characters spring to life make These old Shades not only a delightful read, but one the reader will recall fondly and want to re-read time and time again. I cannot praise this novel enough and yet fear of saying too much and giving away any of the novels many treasures. I was captivated by the story line from the beginning, delighted in the plot twists, enchanted by the budding romance, and teased by the chapter headings into reading far into the night. These Old Shades is indeed a must read and definitely one of the most splendid books I have read this year. I look forward to reading more of Georgette Heyer’s works. I cannot praise this book enough and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a novel that will capture the reader and keep the reader engrossed for hours on end. My word of caution, make certain to clear one’s schedule before beginning this book as one will not likely want to put it down.
The late Georgette Heyer was a very private woman. Her historical novels have charmed and delighted millions of readers for decades, though she rarely reached out to the public to discuss her works or personal life. She was born in Wimbledon in August 1902, and her first novel, The Black Moth, published when she was 19, was an instant success.
Heyer published 56 books over the next 53 years, until her death from lung cancer in 1974. Her work included Regency novels, mysteries and historical fiction. Known also as the Queen of Regency romance, Heyer was legendary for her research, historical accuracy and her extraordinary plots and characterizations. Her last book, My Lord John, was published posthumously in 1975. She was married to George Ronald Rougier, a barrister, and they had one son, Richard.
I received a free copy of No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer from Sourceboks. Receiving a free copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.