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These Old Shades

Sunday, February 28, 2021

These Old Shades (1926) Georgette Heyer

These Old ShadesSet in England and France in the mid 1750s.

The Duke of Avon has well-earned his nickname of Satanas.

‘And you came to Paris with a fortune.’
‘Quite a considerable one. I bought this house.’
‘Yes. I wonder how you reconcile it with your soul?’
‘I haven’t one, Hugh. I thought you knew that.’

One of the things I find particularly fascinating about this story is that it does nothing to soften Justin. Even at the end of the story you can feel the arrogance and disdain coming off of him.

(H)is Grace of Avon came in. He wore the dress he had once worn in Versailles, cloth of gold, shimmering in the candlelight. A great emerald in the lace at his throat gleamed balefully, another flashed on his finger. At his side was a light dress sword; in one hand he carried his scented handkerchief, and a snuff-box studded with tiny emeralds, and from one wrist hung a fan of painted chicken-skin mounted upon gold sticks.

For the most part I love this story–it is a comfort read from start to finish. The one thing that bothers me is the description of Saint-Vire’s son.

He left Madame, and that clodhopping son.’

Avon put up his eyeglass. ‘Clodhopping?’

‘What, have you not seen him, then? A boorish cub, Justin, with the soul of a farmer. And that is the boy who is to be Comte de Saint-Vire! Mon Dieu, but there must be bad blood in Marie! My beautiful nephew did not get his boorishness from us. Well, I never thought that Marie was of the real nobility.’

The constant descriptions of what the boy wants as being antithetical to what trust aristocracy would want makes me sad.

But I allow that to slide because of this:

Perhaps Rupert will come and save me, but I think that I will save myself, and not wait for Rupert.

Both for the time the story is set and when it was written, that’s is a very surprising sentiment, and I love it is there.

Publisher : Sourcebooks Casablanca
Rating: 9/10

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