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.
— Austin Dobson, “Epilogue” to Eighteenth Century Vignettes, Second Series (yep, that’s where Heyer got the title)
“He has Titian hair,” said Justin blandly. “Titian hair has ever been one of–my–ruling–passions.”
Chapter I, His Grace of Avon Buys a Soul
I have received some complaints from my Gentle Readers about some of the earlier posts in this series: some dissatisfaction that I’m wasting time reading these stupid, boring books that the author herself didn’t even like very much instead of moving right to the Good Stuff.
Well, Gentle Readers, we’re at the Good Stuff now.
In fact, I would say that These Old Shades is probably the best-known of Georgette Heyer’s novels–her Pride and Prejudice, if you will, at least in terms of popularity. However, can one imagine Jane Austen, having lived another ten, twenty, thirty years, ever growing tired of praise of Elizabeth and Darcy, and weary of readers begging for more books like Pride and Prejudice? More, in those days before the JAFF genre existed, of the Darcys themselves? If her letters are to be believed, Georgette Heyer certainly grew weary of fans asking for more books like These Old Shades. Yet in this book she not only recycled characters from her first published work, The Black Moth, she went back to the adventures of the Alistairs two more times in Devil’s Cub and An Infamous Army. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Well, I snarked, and now I’m going to praise. I’m working on my All of Heyer entry on These Old Shades (no, really) and I came across this cover image.
This is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about! They wanted a fresh new look to appeal to younger readers, and this time they’ve done a smashing job. A fan, pistols, cards, a quizzing glass, a carriage–presumably His Grace of Avon’s light traveling coach on the way to Versailles, pulled by his high-couraged horses–all the things one thinks of in connection with this delightful story. It looks like fun! Who wouldn’t want to read it?
So it seems that Sourcebooks took the criticism about their proposed new books–and believe me, I was not the only one complaining, the Georgette Heyer Facebook group was acquiring pitchforks and torches–and went back to the drawing board, and came up with a really wonderful new look, also rebranding them as “The Georgette Heyer Signature Collection.” Well done, Sourcebooks! Your ebooks still cost too much, though. (They do occasionally put them on sale, if you’re in the market…sign up for eReaderIQ and set your preferences for Georgette Heyer, and you will be notified by email when the prices drop. They often run a sale near Heyer’s birthday in August.)
Incidentally, we think Miss Stanton-Lacey would approve of The Grand Sophy‘s makeover, though Miss Wraxton might sniff. And they included Tina the Italian Greyhound! HI TINA WHO’S A GOOD GIRL YOU ARE YES YOU ARE
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. A three-cornered hat, point-edged, was set upon his powdered wig, and in his hand he carried a long beribboned cane. It was a little enough protection against footpads, and although a light dress sword hung at the gentleman’s side its hilt was lost in the folds of his cloak, not quickly to be found. At this late hour, and in this deserted street, it was the height of foolhardiness to walk unattended and flaunting jewels, but the gentleman seemed unaware of his recklessness. He proceeded languidly on his way, glancing neither to left nor to right, apparently heedless of possible danger.