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These Old Shades (Historical Romances) Paperback – October 1, 2009
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A gentleman was strolling down a side street in Paris, on his way back from the house of one Madame de Verchoureux. He walked mincingly, for the red heels of his shoes were very high. A long purple cloak, rose-lined, hung from his shoulders and was allowed to fall carelessly back from his dress, revealing a full-skirted coat of purple satin, heavily laced with gold; a waistcoat of flowered silk; faultless small clothes; and a lavish sprinkling of jewels on his cravat and breast.The gentleman in question is Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, known by friends and enemies alike as Satanas--the devil. On this particular evening, the dangerous rake crosses paths with Léon, a red-headed youth of low birth who is fleeing a certain beating at his brutal brother's hands. On a whim, Avon buys the boy and makes him his page. It soon becomes clear, however, that Léon is not what he seems, and that Avon has an ulterior motive for bringing him into his household. Set in pre-Revolutionary France, These Old Shades follows a twisting course as young Léon (or is it Léonie?) is swept up in a dangerous mystery: how to account for the page's amazing resemblance to the sinister Compte de Saint Vire, for example; and why will this man go to any lengths to get the youth in his power?
Georgette Heyer's historical romances tend to fall into two different camps: later novels such as Cotillion, False Colours, and Sylvester feature larger-than-life comic characters and romantic pairings more akin to Beatrice and Benedick than Hero and Claudio. Earlier works such as These Old Shades, however, tend to be darker, tinged with mystery and overshadowed by very real menace. What both types share is Heyer's fine storytelling and encyclopedic knowledge of Regency mores and manners--her books are the next best thing to a time machine. These Old Shades's greatest asset, however, is the charming Léonie: beautiful, brave, and loyal to a fault, with a fondness for swordplay and pistols and a delightfully incomplete grasp of the English language. Heyer herself was so fond of this character that she featured her in two more novels, Devil's Cub and An Infamous Army. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
Barbara Rhodes, Northeast Texas Lib. Syst., Garland
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In several ways Barbara Cartland's 'Love Me For Ever' is very similar to 'These Old Shades' - runaway meets cycnical Duke, is briefly disguised as his page, calls him Monseigner and becomes his ward. 'Love Me For Ever' is one of my favourite Barbara Cartland stories, but 'These Old Shades' has more depth and the characters, Justin, Duke of Avon and Leon/Leonie, and even the supporting characters are much stronger.
Please read 'These Old Shades'if you get a chance. You won't be sorry.
In 'These Old Shades' the Duke of Avon (the most ruthless and sinister of Heyer's heroes) pursues a passion for vengeance and Titian hair, and ends up catching the most flamboyant and daring of her heroines.
Read 'A Civil Contract' for a lyrical love-story, 'The Convenient Marriage' for clever dialogue: and 'These Old Shades' for adventure.
The Duc of Avon is the male lead; he is an unrepentant reprobate whose basic good nature has not quite entirely withered away. He adpots a street waif in Paris, playing along with the charade that the child is a boy. His motives are not of the best, at first, but as the story unfolds, we are allowed to watch a subtle shift in the thrust of his plans.
The two main characters are supported by a rich cast of characters, from the household servants to the pinnacle of Paris society. The Duc's bubble-headed sister is not as much of a lightweight as she would have you believe, and his younger brother is just a simple, nice fellow.
The biggest appeal of this book, for this reviewer at any rate, is the language-of-the-day, with which Ms. Heyer brings these people and this era to brilliant clarity.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
To everyone else, this is a fantastic book. However, I had a difficult time with the French sayings (and I studied French long ago) and the special terms from that era. Read morePublished 20 days ago by J. Cushard
This is actually one of my least favorite Georgette Heyer novels. It follows the Black Moth and has several of the same characters. Read morePublished 26 days ago by MorganB
I have reread this book multiple times: I enjoy it every time. The characters are rich, the dialogue clever, and the plot well done. Love it.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I've only read this book once, but I've listened to the audiobook many times. Cornelius Garrett is a brilliant narrator! Read morePublished 1 month ago by amtmcm
Absolutely delightful from the first page to the last. I love these books, they are like a treat tucked here and there between the other books I read. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rowan
I've loved Georgette Heyer's books since I was a teenager in the 1960's. I'm rereading several now.Published 1 month ago by Ddsloveslotr
Though Ms. Heyer certainly had a feel for the superficiality and intrigues of high society in bygone eras, I found the main characters hard to believe in. Read morePublished 2 months ago by D.Green