In his youth he recklessly lost one fortune and won another and since then has cut a swath through polite society, careening from one scandal to another. He is untouchable, crowds part for him, and he floats through parties being coldly superior. He does have one good friend, Hugh Davenant, who is both kind and sober and hints that Justin is redeemable hero, but even he is concerned about what Justin might be up to with the boy.
However this is not just a girl-running-around-in boys-clothes-for-a-lark story. Although she changes her clothes and grows out her hair, she never quite let go of her boyishness. And Avon never goes around objectifying her when she wears her trousers. She is forever threatening people with guns or chasing them around with rapiers, while he defeats the villain not by physically overpowering him but by outmaneuvering him through insinuation and storytelling. He is masterful and powerful without the over-used masculine signifiers. In this novel I particularly loved the little solo scenes she gives to the Marlings and Merivales.
I must kiss March's hands and feet. Davenant glared at him for a moment, annoyed at his nonchalance. I personally loved every scene in which the Duke had a say, and to me, he is an amazing character. I could talk about him all day long, so let's move on. Yes, I admit that she did seem to act a lot younger than her given age 19 , what with talking nonsense half the time, being so bloodthirsty and worshipping the Duke like a god.
They seem to have more of a father-daughter relationship than a an actual romantic one. However, there is another way of looking at it. Just think about it for a minute. The Duke of Avon is a cold-hearted man who has never truly cared or loved anyone or anything, and who has never been loved. OK, there are perhaps a few exeptions Hugh Davenant is his friend and it is said that he once loved Jennifer Beauchamp, but he tried to abduct her - twice!
The Duke one day decides to keep her. He shows himself to be unexpectedly good and kind to her. He may not have acted from charity at first, but Avon's character change is one of the best aspects of this novel. In a way, each rescued the other. In a world where all women are supposed to be the same, wearing giant skirts, curtseying, having their hands kissed, being accomplished, playing a lower role in the society, etc And everyone loves her because of that.
Women love her because she's sweet, beautiful, unique and funny. Avon comes to love her because she's herself. She's the only one who has ever dared to contradict or to talk back to him, and he likes it. And I prefer that you call me Monseigneur. He did not like it at all.
He gave an evil drink — pig-wash! He called it coffee. I threw it at him and he swore. Every scene involving them was super funny especially with Rupert. It also showed that their relationship as a family was evolving. As we come to see a softer side to Avon, however, we can see how that relationship gradually changes. When Avon meets Rupert for the first time, in the book when he is wounded in an inn on a roadside in rural France, he acts towards him with none of his usual biting sarcasm, and even takes care of him.
Seeing them all talk gaily, amiably and at perfect ease was very touching. I am a lady. But I just had to include it in the passage! She treats her like her daughter and even says so herself , educating her and dressing her with her own gowns. I was secretly really hoping for it, especially since he had promised her that he would dance with her in a previous conversation. Oh well, that was really the only minor detail that disappointed me oh, and of course the fact that the book cover completely reveals a major spoiler!!!!!
However, for those like me who are totally obsessed with those kind of things, These Old Shades is the perfect book. As he told her tale, his love for her shone through his voice at certain passages, and the answering adoration she held for him was echoed through the acute sacrifice she made to save his reputation view spoiler [ she fled his house for fear she would expose him to a scandal when she discovered that Saint-Vire was her father and that she was probably his bastard-daughter hide spoiler ]. He had his own reasons for keeping her, and hoped to use her for his own ends.
These Old Shades (Alastair, #1) by Georgette Heyer
His desire for revenge was then intensified, perhaps, but had a very different meaning. By thus humiliating himself in front of the woman he loves, it undoubtedly proves that he is an altogether reformed character. And just beautiful, wonderful, awesome, amazing, incredible. Now, the question is, what the heck am I supposed to do with my life???!?!? View all 46 comments. Oct 30, Vivian rated it really liked it Shelves: I adore Georgian period romances. The ridiculous extravagance and theatricality of action and costume are simply divine.
It's Pygmalion with far more entertaining circumstances. The button of her foil came to rest below his left shoulder. I feel rather silly that the title was so off-putting to me that I failed to read it earlier. And yes, I comprehended the ancient Greek concept of shade, but dismissed the opportunity. Rather stupid of me, to be honest.
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View all 4 comments. I think I'm too much a product of my time. If you liked Val from Hoyt's Maiden Lane series, you're going to love our hero Justin, definitely an inspiration for him. I was a big fan of Justin and his wit, he's constantly miles and moves ahead of everyone else.
Leonie was kept so young, guileless, and precocious without much emotional maturity growth, I have to be that person and say I wasn't a big fan of the heroine. The father figure falling for the young girl who hero worships him but written very well with tangled weave drama. View all 12 comments. Mar 05, Hana rated it really liked it Shelves: The literary equivalent of those marvelous British period dramas with utterly glorious settings and luscious costumes. I can never resist this sort thing. Pages of details of soft white brocades, ruffle upon ruffle, falling over great hoops, auburn hair piled in elaborate curls, pearls against soft pale skin, and perfect accessories like And since this is 18th century France before the Revolution, the men are just as gorgeous and even more colorful When we first meet the h The literary equivalent of those marvelous British period dramas with utterly glorious settings and luscious costumes.
When we first meet the hero, the Duke of Avon, he is arrayed "in a full-skirted coat of purple satin, heavily laced with gold," his wig immaculately powdered, carrying a beribboned cane, and mincing along in high heels. The plot is a lively but improbable mix of The Count of Monte Cristo and My Fair Lady yet it's all so glittering that I hardly noticed the plot holes as I gawked at ballroom scenes at Versailles and yearned to own one marvelous gown after another.
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The descriptions are splendid, the dialog witty, and the protagonists are likable, particularly the little urchin who is transformed into Along the way, we get to meet luminaries at the court of Louis V, including the famed courtesan, Madam Pompadour You can be sure I'll be back for more! Read with fellow Georgette Heyer Fans who added so much to the pleasure--thank you all! Jun 12, Trin rated it did not like it Shelves: Most fandom people I've talked to either love or at least rather like this book, but it seems it's my turn to feel all "bwah?
I despised pretty much all the characters, other than Hugh and Rupert—Leonie was irritating, and Avon was just creepy. I know he was supposed to be "Satanas"—the devil of a man who isn't really that bad, but I found him neither enjoyably naughty nor charming; he was just kin Most fandom people I've talked to either love or at least rather like this book, but it seems it's my turn to feel all "bwah? I know he was supposed to be "Satanas"—the devil of a man who isn't really that bad, but I found him neither enjoyably naughty nor charming; he was just kind of slimy.
The idea of him and Leonie being together really skeeved me out, not because of the age difference—I actually like an age difference, when it's done well—but because of the power dynamic, I guess. All the power was Avon's, both practically and emotionally, and throughout the whole book Leonie was worshipful of him and he condescending towards her. I also didn't see the slash at all; Hugh was one of the few nice characters, as I said, so I guess it could be construed that he put up with Avon because he was in love with him, but Avon didn't seem particularly gay to me—he was just an 18th Century dude who lived in France and was a bit of a vain ass.
The overall package was not appealing, and neither was this book, which is too bad, because I really enjoyed the only other Heyer I've read, The Masqueraders. Those of you who've read it: View all 10 comments. I don't think Lord Merivale is Jack - he lacks Jack's whimsical sweetness. The extract from a poem by Victorian poet Austin Dobson which has been at the front of every edition I have read of this novel except the Arrow This Age I grant and grant with pride , Is varied, rich, eventful; But, if you touch its weaker side, Deplorably resentful: Belaud it, and it takes your praise With air of calm conviction; Condemn it, and at once you raise A storm of contradiction.
Whereas with these old Shades of mine, Their ways and dress delight me; And should I trip by word or line, They cannot well indict me. This story is so well told that I simply don't care about major plot holes. I don't care that French characters in this book who are fluent in English fall back into their French for very easy English terms. Yes it is flawed but GH was still only around 23 when she wrote it - this is an accomplished book for anyone let alone so young an author! I love the rich cast of characters that, like a few of her other great works, become a group of friends that you want to hang out with.
She is more than a sister to him - yet they are not in love. You are not the first woman in my life. View all 7 comments. Sep 08, Giedre rated it did not like it. I'm a fan of romance novels, especially historical, so I tend to read quite a bit of them. I know that Georgette Heyer is sort of a legend in this subgenre, but I have never read any of her books before now. I chose to read These Old Shades because it's part of a trilogy.
I thought, hey, I'll read the three books and then decide what I think of her writing. Sadly I didn't enjoy the first installment. I found the Duke of Avon to be a rather fashionable reptile with a fan yes, you read th I'm a fan of romance novels, especially historical, so I tend to read quite a bit of them. I found the Duke of Avon to be a rather fashionable reptile with a fan yes, you read that right.
Do not get me wrong, I enjoy these fashionable anti-heroes see Eloisa James' the Duke of Villiers , but Heyer's Avon felt rather cardboard. There wasn't much to him really, apart his vapid need for revenge and calling Leonie "my infant", which made me very, very uncomfortable. I believe that the girl has the emotional and and intellectual maturity of a teenage girl. I'd give her fifteen at most. But that isn't the worst part. That was Leonie's obnoxiousness and tendency to call everyone stupid. She's just extremely annoying and silly. The moment she opened her mouth, I wanted her to shut up.
I admit I wanted to strangle her upon occasion. I didn't really see anything deeper inside her personality as Avon did. Leonie's really just an infant. As to the romance between Avon and Leonie, all I can say is that, boy, am I skeeved. This pairing just did not work for me; there just wasn't any chemistry between the protagonists.
Also, the age difference just made my skin crawl. And that, believe me, is quite an achievement, because age differences between couples have never fazed me before. I also don't give a damn if it's the man or the woman if it's hetero romance who's older. But this time it just felt so wrong. It's not that Avon is twenty-plus years older than Leonie and a reptile , but rather that she has the maturity of a kid, despite her being nineteen.
Honestly, it felt like Avon himself saw her as a child, calling her "my infant" all the time. Even after their unfortunate nuptials. But really, I'm hoping that this one was just an odd miss and I'll enjoy the other two in this trilogy. Oct 24, Naksed rated it liked it Shelves: A guardian-ward romance set in the reign of Louis XV, with a dash of Pygmalion, and a revenge dish served very, very cold, Georgette Heyer's These Old Shades was quite delicious, once I was able to ignore and set aside the hopelessly out of touch and destructive hypothesis that is at the core of the novel.
That is, nature will always win out over nurture. So if an aristocratic, well-bred, pure-blood being is unwittingly ripped from its natural surroundings and thrust upon a dung heap, it will st A guardian-ward romance set in the reign of Louis XV, with a dash of Pygmalion, and a revenge dish served very, very cold, Georgette Heyer's These Old Shades was quite delicious, once I was able to ignore and set aside the hopelessly out of touch and destructive hypothesis that is at the core of the novel.
So if an aristocratic, well-bred, pure-blood being is unwittingly ripped from its natural surroundings and thrust upon a dung heap, it will still manage to bloom as a most radiant flower. And vice-versa, you can put lipstick on a pig and he always will reek. The dialogue and characterizations in this story were superb, particularly the male protagonist, a fortyish, dandified, rakehell of the Georgian era. The denouement of his meticulously planned revenge was so perfect that it made the comeuppance of the evil shrew of Les Liasons Dangereuses seem like child's play.
I have to admit though that the cast of secondary characters, a madcap assortment of aristos with always a bon mot, a box of snuff, and an invitation to a ball up their sleeves, and the infantile, annoying heroine, who I am sure delighted the original readership of this book, kind of grated on me. Still, overall, an entertaining little book. Dec 24, Laure rated it really liked it. You would never know or feel that this book is made of pages or so - it reads very quickly, enchantingly so.
Very enjoyable as always. Anyone looking for a touching and lasting tale of love! This review is just a picture of how personally I take my books and how involved I get! Great many spoilers and fan girl babbling ahead! While I read it, there was some clicking going on in my mind that something is familiar, that I know some of these things. I also felt that Satanas was so s This review is just a picture of how personally I take my books and how involved I get! Further Anthony Merivale is very much alike Sir Anthony Ferndale, in that he had some highwayman history to his name, and had rescued his wife Jennifer from Satanas while he was abducting her and also had had a terrific sword fight with him that was played with almost the same level of expertise, though Merivale had a slight edge over Avon remember Jack taught fencing in France?
I felt curious and I then did some research. It turns out that Heyer had written These Old Shades using the same characters, retaining their character essence in their names and just made them more three dimensional. And it indeed is another side to the story of The Black Moth set three years after the happenings of The Black moth and it was said that she had named the book as she did in order to give it a continuation of sorts. But after having read TOS, I am fascinated!
There can be no other book like These Old Shades! I love it to the last shred! And that is an understatement!
These Old Shades
I just cannot understand how this was penned. The detailing of emotions, actions, feelings and situations is just out of the world! This phase in their lives was so pure and unadulterated. Here, It always goes like: We go to Vaussauds! I will be yours forever My Monseigneur! You are the best Monseigneur! I had a lump in the throat and almost cried at a couple of places. Then, the travel to and from Versailles. What we come across in this phase is: With an engaging smile Avon: Monseigneur not our library!
So basically, she has Avon around her little finger! Satanas, whom no one could prevail upon finally comes to love someone more than himself! For all his satanical actions, I still find His Grace of Avon, Justin Alastair one of the most charming and endearing heroes ever!
He is enthralling and fascinating. The sarcasm and the sharp straight-faced one-liners are just too good! His kindness, empathy and care for Leonie are remarkably beautiful. She is my most beloved of Heyer heroines, even more than Frederica and Venetia whom I had found the most likable up till now. Reading TOS has really changed the sequence of my favourites. She is just so selfless in her love for Justin and so devoted to him. The sweet mix of innocence, wisdom and cynicism and her defense of her master with all her life and heart are just so cute! I mean this is the height of innocent devotion!
Such intricate description of the small nothings which are valued as everything endears the book so much to the heart! I found their love for one another selfless and unadulterated. There is a sense of belonging between them right from their first meeting with each other and their bond just grows stronger each moment. They are just made for each other! Lady Fanny is a sweet heart and Hugh Devanant such a level headed and caring friend.
Merivale is interesting and I felt like killing Saint Vire myself! Told you I get too involved! The story is compelling. The way it is wrought is remarkable. No doubt, it is so loved and appreciated around the globe. I would just say: That probably doesn't make sense to anyone but me. My understanding is that this is one of her first novels. The Duke of Avon is supposed to be a first class rake of low reputation, nicknamed "Satanas. He is always impeccably dressed and mannered, and I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed his razor-sharp wit. No one can so elegantly put someone in their place like the Duke.
Leonie is young, young, young, rough around the edges as she's been raised a boy, and quite the ingenue, which was annoying at times, but her sincerity and earnestness saved the day. The other characters in the book were quite a bit of fun as well: Justin's sister Fanny was a riot, and Rupert his brother the comic relief. Although with that it bugged me a bit as I am no fan of Heyer's slang. Speaking of slang, the best thing about this book is that the word "odious" did not appear once. This is a book where I truly was unsure of how it would end.
I enjoyed all the twists and turns, even though a bit of the book dragged for me somewhere in the middle. But as I have no problem skipping through sections of a book, it didn't hamper me too much. Apr 11, Res rated it it was ok Shelves: The character of Leonie is immensely likeable though, like Amanda in Sprig Muslin, she'd make more sense as a year-old than at her stated age, which is I don't quite see in her what Avon says he sees, the results of a life of terrible, constant loneliness.
Avon is more problematic.
Partly it's a Georgian-culture problem -- it's hard for me to distinguish between an ordinary, irresponsible nobleman of fashion and an actual rake in the old, non-playful sense of the word. We know he kidnapp The character of Leonie is immensely likeable though, like Amanda in Sprig Muslin, she'd make more sense as a year-old than at her stated age, which is We know he kidnapped Jenny Merivale as a youth, though evidently he left her marriageable; we know Jenny and her husband won't associate with him, and neither will his sister Fanny's husband, or, we take it, most people of morals, except, for some reason, Hugh Davenant.
We know he's nicknamed Satanas; when he declares his love for Leonie, he makes a touching confession of having an unclean heart Except, I suppose, intentionally provoking a rival to suicide, but this is set up in such a way that you cheer it. Gender assumptions Leonie is universally admired for the frankness that comes of having been raised as a boy and class ones she's still recognizably a Lady, and the switched baby a peasant, despite their upbringings are hard to ignore, and as always with gender-switch stories, I feel like the homoeroticism is raised and then hastily shoved offstage again.
I enjoyed this Heyer novel, but not as much as I was expecting to. First of all, I'm a Regency girl. Georgian era powdered wigs and high-heeled frou-frou men are just not my cuppa tea. The Duke, Justin, is nicknamed Satan. I always love villains, right? I did love Leonie. She had enough spark and mischief in her to keep her from being a Mary Sue.
Supporting cast was magnifique! I was surprised to discover that I understood I enjoyed this Heyer novel, but not as much as I was expecting to. I was surprised to discover that I understood all the French dialogue. I thought I was so fluent! In fourth year, Madam Fitz had us watch Gigi and French commercials. What are these people saying??? Quite a blow to my ego.
I promptly changed my flag from Francophile to Anglophile upon discovering Jane Austen a few years later and still want to be a Brit. True story mon amies A solid 3 star read. I guess I need to love the hero in order to give all the stars. Dec 05, Maureen Carden rated it it was amazing Shelves: I first read this 50 years ago. These Old Shades is my favorite Heyer book and some of the details had stayed with me for 50 years which is a pretty strong recommendation for a book.
Stayed with me so much so that this is the first re-reading I have given it. Heyer invented a genre and I think this was the true blueprint for all of the thousands of historical romances that have come afterwards. I find These Old Shades to be the best written, most intriguing plot, strongest characters and most I first read this 50 years ago. I find These Old Shades to be the best written, most intriguing plot, strongest characters and most delightful secondary characters.
There is still a bit of an eww factor in the age difference between the main characters, but hey there is a 24 year difference between the Trumps, so 20 years must be okay. Plus it seems from other books written in that period as if big age differences were commonplace. I am so glad I finally reread these Old Shades. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Once again, Georgette Heyer has delighted me with this enchanting tale!!! How do I describe this? It's a tale of revenge, it's a rags to riches story, yet, it's also a romance. Justin Alastair, The Duke of Avon, known for his bad reputation, seeks to settle an old score and in the process, he is transformed into a hero.
Leonie, a superbly entertaining heroine, whose impish behavior kept me in stitches, is also a beautiful young woman with a mysterious past. She knows her own mind, and I admire th Once again, Georgette Heyer has delighted me with this enchanting tale!!! She knows her own mind, and I admire that about her. She lacks etiquette but she is not harmed by this because she is refreshingly honest and without guile. And in spite of a less than respectful upbringing, she maintains a certain irresistible charm.
Alastair Trilogy Boxed Set: These Old Shades/Devil's Cub/Infamous Army
Ultimately, Justin is reunited with his better self as his desire for revenge changes into an impulse to restore Leonie to her rightful place in society. This is one of Heyer's slower burning romances but one of the most satisfying I have read thus far. I do love a story that winds it's way to a "Happily Ever After"!
This book is filled with a rich cast of characters, snappy banter, and extravagant Georgian period fashions. I highly recommend this witty romance!!! Jan 19, Miriam rated it it was ok Shelves: I'm finding the protagonists quite distasteful -- actually morally reprehensible, rather than merely "not to my taste" -- and their relationship creepy and unhealthy.
From what I gather from other people who've read this, they don't have some catharsis or rupturing and become better people. And it isn't even witty in the usual Heyer manner. I'm dropping this one, at least until I am all out of other Heyer novels. View all 8 comments. Age 19 - Comte de Saint-Vire: A libertine rake who is reformed by love? I adored this Heyer hero! He enchants from the first encounter with his calm and suave manner. I loved hearing all of his witty replies, sarcastic observations, and dry rejoinders.
But I think what I loved most is witnessing his transformation. We know he has a devilish past, but we see the Duke act responsibly, care for the well-being of others, and grow to be most tender and affectionate. And while readers might piece it all together beforehand, the moment when the Duke finally strikes to end the game is nothing short of masterful. Talk about a delivery! Something truly heart-wrenching happens a scene so poignant it brought me to tears , and with steely determination the Duke is forced to play his final move.
And to know that his tender devotion and sense of justice truly propels his actions not just revenge , makes you admire his actions all the more. It was brilliantly, brilliantly done. Of course there are some entertaining and likable secondary characters full of personality in this story!
Also, it is said that These Old Shades was originally intended as a sequel to The Black Moth, but with changed character names. Scandal, dishonorable secrets, revenge, abductions, rescues, transformations, reformations, and romance — These Old Shades is brimming with action and drama! It is such an endearing and lively tale one that is sure to entertain and delight readers of historical fiction and humorous escapades. Nov 18, Sarah rated it really liked it.
I enjoyed this, despite one or two minor annoyances: The hero was referred to by any one of about eleven different names or titles randomly throughout - "Justin" "The Duke" "Alastair" "Avon" "His Grace". Leonie was funny but a bit of a twerp, she definitely didn't act 19 and her worshipful ADORATION of Alistavonjustingraceduke got on my nerves, as did his condescending "come here and let me wipe my feet on you, my infant" attitude to her.
What reference I enjoyed this, despite one or two minor annoyances: What reference does the title 'these old shades' have to anything in the book? Low-born people are dull, stodgy, unattractive and into farming - they're just BORN with an inbuilt longing to get out there with a plough and start turning over some arable land. Nobility are noticably beautiful and delicate, and also far more intelligent. I didn't really feel the romance from Leonie's angle. When did she stop seeing him as a father figure and start seeing him as a romantic figure?
Or did she love him in a strictly non-platonic way from the start? We never really got inside her head. The age difference didn't bother me at all, I think it's fine as long as they're both happy. Put it this way: Johnny Depp, Patrick Dempsey, Gerard Butler and Viggo Mortensen are all in their 40s, and still attractive to someone 20 years younger ie me. Jun 13, Ruth Turner rated it it was amazing Shelves: It was always, and still is, my favourite.
Witty, charming, with wonderful characters that were a pleasure to revisit. I have hesitated to add a review of this because I'm pretty sure I can't do it justice. Brilliantly written, witty, fun and spot on historically. The Duke of Avon is one of the best heroes ever written.