Thursday, December 3, 2009

Review #29: These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

Title: These Old Shades

Author: Georgette Heyer
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Format: Trade paperback supplied by publisher for review
Genre: Romance
ISBN: 978-1-4022-1947-4

Rating: 3.5/5
I haven't done half ratings yet and the only reason it's getting a half is because i don't know if I would buy it myself though I did enjoy reading it.

My review and description:

Because I was new to Georgette Heyer and having discovered that she was known as the "Queen of Regency Romances", it was important for me to find out exactly what Regency really meant. So, I looked to the very trusty Wikipedia (!) and this is what it told me.

Regency novels are either:

In both cases the setting is typically Regency England, although the settings can sometimes be extended to the European continent or to the various British colonies of the same time period. Traits often found in both types include a highly developed sense of social standing between the characters; emphasis on 'manners' and class issues; and the emergence of modern social thought amongst the upper classes of England.

The Regency period in the United Kingdom is the period between 1811 and 1820, when King George III was deemed unfit to rule and his son, later George IV, was instated to be his proxy as Prince Regent. It was a decade of particular manners and fashions, and overlaps with the Napoleonic Period in Europe.

All very good information to know but then as I begin reading and digging a little more about Georgette Heyer, I come to find that These Old Shades is actually considered a Georgian romance and this one in particular set in the 1750s. It comes down to time period and when it comes to history and chronology, I am horrible. So I leaned a little on Wikipedia throughout my reading to help me understand some of the details of this book.

These Old Shades is a story about the Duke of Avon, Justin Alastair. He has quite a reputation of being, well, not a very overly affectionate guy. While out walking one evening he encounters a young boy, Leon, running from his brother. The Duke notices this frenzy and makes a bold decision to take in this Leon and make him his page.

A surprising decision and flusters everyone in his life as Leon makes a home for himself with the Duke and becomes a very loyal page.

The secret, as it turns out, is that Leon is not a young man. He is actually Leonie, a young woman.

This begins the true story and compelling relationship between the Duke and Leonie.

This book has become one the Heyer's most popular and one that really launched her career. Because the time period was foreign to me and the writing style (having been written in the 1920s) did not flow in the beginning, it was hard for me to get into.

I became a bit confused because the characters would be mentioned by their different names a lot; sometimes The Duke, sometimes Justin, sometimes "Satanas". It took me a few chapters to really absorbed the writing style. I was definitely impressed with the story as it went on and found it to be very clever, if not a tad over dramatic. The fact that a young woman could simply have short hair and wear drab clothes and the world would be convinced she was a he was a little unbelievable. But as i read on, I understood that appearances and politeness and deception were quite the ordinary during that time.

In some ways, it reminded me of a romantic comedy from modern day; with the silliness of the deception and the theatrical ways they go about transforming him into her. And, of course, the unlikely romance that blossoms.

In the end, I rather enjoyed it. Heyer has a specific voice, one that could be recommended for fans of Jane Austen or the Brontes. She wrote over 50 novels and Sourcebooks have republished many of them. Thank you to Danielle from Sourcebooks for sending me my copy. It is quite beautiful.

Open the eyes of the romance reader in your life and give them the gift of Georgette Heyer. It will be a pleasant surprise.

Happy Reading!

red headed book child


Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

Great review! Definitely appreciate the definition, since I'm not good AT ALL at remembering dates. Hm, I love the 1750s period, so I might have to check it out. The premise seems a bit stereotypical (hard to find one that isn't these days), but I like "unprobable" romances and I'm interested to see how Heyer makes the plot her own. :)

Staci said...

I read The Grand Sophy a few weeks ago and totally LOVED it!! Now I'm reading Cousin Kate and enjoying that one too, not as much as Sophy but still good. Loved your review. I plan on reading a lot of Heyer in the future!

Melissa said...

I've never read a Georgette Heyer book, yet I've heard of her work lots. I always wanted to give her a try, but with so many books to choose from I don't know what to pick up first. This one sounds intriguing.

Unknown said...

I got the book in the mail today. Thank you so much! Even plastic wrapped...I'm muy impressed. :)

Lynda Coker said...

I've read all of Georgette Heyer's books and loved them all. What a great review and appreciate you sharing your research with us also.

Lisa said...

This is literally the fourth review I have read today about a Heyer book. And everyone has enjoyed the book they read. So I guess it's time for me to pick one up!