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These Old Shades [Paperback]

Georgette Heyer
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Feb 1972
A historical novel, set in 18th-century Versailles and England and telling the story of a street urchin who is brought up by a duke to act as a page. First published in 1926 and out of print in hardback for approximately 2 years.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books; New impression edition (4 Feb 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330202693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330202695
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.9 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,042,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Author of over fifty books, Georgette Heyer is the best-known and best-loved of all historical novelists, making the Regency period her own. Her first novel, The Black Moth, published in 1921, was written at the age of fifteen to amuse her convalescent brother; her last was My Lord John. Famous for her historical novels, she also wrote twelve highly acclaimed mystery novels. Georgette Heyer died in 1974 at the age of seventy-one.

Product Description


"My favourite historical novelist, stylish, romantic, sharp, and witty. Her sense of period is superb, her heroines are enterprising, and her heroes dashing. I owe her many happy hours" (Margaret Drabble)

"Sparkling" (The Independent) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A classic tale of intrigue, adventure and love from the 'Grande Dame' of romantic historical novels set in Georgian and Regency England. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars my favourite Georgette Heyer--irresistible! 20 Jun 2001
...My grandmother has nearly all of Heyer's novels, and although I've read her whole collection, These Old Shades remains my favourite. Who could not fall for both Avon and Rupert, chuckle at Avon's sarcastic humour, or admire Leonie's adorable courage and outspokeness? The climax is dramatic, the ending is romantic, and there are some great descriptions of life for the nobility at the time. I come back to this book when I'm sick, depressed, or just want to lose myself in its world. Romantic fluff, yes, but fun fluff! Pull up a comfy armchair, open a box of chocolates, and enjoy! Oh, and does anyone else wonder what Avon did to earn the name 'Satanas'?
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Unlike most of Georgette Heyer's novels, this is not a 'Regency romance', being set in pre-revolutionary France (and England), but it is incomparably enchanting. Readers of The Black Moth (Heyer's first novel) will recognise elements of a 'sequel' in this, which has itself a sequel in Devil's Cub. The English Duke of Avon is Mr Darcy with knobs-on, and the heroine is adorably fiery. For me, none of Heyer's other heroes or heroines come close to the perfection of this pair. I first read These Old Shades when I was 10 (my mother was a fan), and must have re-read it at least 50 times since then, always enjoying it and finding something new in its twists and turns.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Old, Old favourite; These Old Shades 15 Dec 2003
By A Customer
There are many books I've loved to read once, some I've enjoyed reading two or three times but few I've read more times than I can, or care to remember. These Old Shades is in that last category.
Georgette Heyer absolutely convinces you of every scene and what's more you love every character, even those you hate. It's the perfect mixture of adventure, intrigue, romance, splendour and villany.
With a heroine you can honestly imagine as a real person and whom you love before you even realise who she is, the mystery is dealt with masterfully. There are bitter-sweet moments and the book positively revels in tradgedy at points.
It's rare to find characters who're portrayed as flawed yet still romantic and believable as well as heroic, yet that's exactly what holds this story together.. you know they're bad but you love them!
Everytime I read it I want to be there, at that time, with all the hardshipd and all the glory, because these are the elements Ms Heyer expresses so well and I can say no more than I love her for it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poor edition! 11 Jun 2010
By Paul Magnussen TOP 500 REVIEWER
Firstly, I should say that I concur with most of the other reviewers: Georgette Heyer is one of my all-time favourite authors, and "These Old Shades" — published when she was only 24 — is her masterpiece, in the original sense of the word.

However, for the picky, I should like to add a warning about the (American) Harlequin edition. Although UK spelling is (very properly) preserved, some clown has decided to "correct" Miss Heyer's beautiful Georgian English, substituting:

p.45 — "You may lose it as you will" for "You may lose it an you will"
p.78 — "A clumsy, thick-set yoke." for "A clumsy, thick-set yokel."
pp.90 & 223 — "It is my intention." for "It is mine intention."
p.113 — "...the forward ways of the younger generation" for "...the froward ways"
p.213 — "I'm silence." for "I'm silenced."
pp.223 & 236 — "Fonteroy" for "Fontenoy", and
p. 262 — "gracefully" for "gracelessly"

But by far the biggest blunder is on p.127 where Miss Heyer wrote: "She saw the sword of the last Duke, that same that he had used in tragic '15, for King James III, and heard a small part of Justin's own adventures, ten years ago, For King Charles III."

The James referred to is of course the Old Pretender, and Charles (as the next sentence makes even clearer) Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, i.e. Bonnie Prince Charlie. But the editor (presumably after consulting a list of British monarchs) has changed these to James II and Charles II, pushing the narrative back 70 years or more!

This is of course nothing like the wholesale disembowelment that has been inflicted on American editions of Harry Potter; but if you're fussy about such things, you might want to get another (British) edition.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
As ever, authenticity brings real, three-dimensional life to this story of disguise, confusion, redemption, and of course love. These Old Shades is my favourite of all Heyer's historical novels, with characters brilliantly drawn and an intriguing plot, with a thoroughly satisfying denoument. Follow this book up with Devil's Cub, and see how the offspring of the hero and heroine fares!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Georgette Heyer - an overview 5 Dec 2008
Like many other reviewers, I too came to Heyer in my teens, when I was ill and my neighbour loaned me her original hardback copies, and I have re-read them many times. And I ask myself, why? Essentially these are sub-Austen, the stories are improbable - or perhaps Shakespearean with all these girls impersonating boys, and in The Masqueraders, a boy impersonating a girl - and the characters privileged beyond belief in a society where most of us would have been agricultural labourers.

However, we are in good company. Antonia Fraser once wrote she knew she could have tamed the Duke of Avon, Stephen Fry reads them. I think it is because the history is good (although sometimes her timelines are a bit askew, as anyone who has worked out how Lady Barbara Childe can be in her late 20's in 1815 will have realised)and the language impeccable.

These Old Shades and Devil's Cub are the great sweeping stories; Venetia may be better, An Infamous Army more heartbreaking, but the Alastair family are the people she came back to, and seemingly so do her many readers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book
Brilliant book. My 2nd favourite Georgette Heyer behind Civil Contract. Wish she had written a lot more books I have all of them
Published 23 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly Good
I downloaded this book, because I heard it being discussed on A Good Read (Radio 4) by two men who were loving it, and I couldn't quite believe it (sorry can't remember who they... Read more
Published 1 month ago by rainer
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Reads
I have read this book many times and it always delights me with its twists and turns and makes me laugh out loud. Read and enjoy!
Published 1 month ago by Jude Love
1.0 out of 5 stars Unappealing H&h. Not really a romance, more a text on men's Georgian...
Heyer said her books were not romances and the more I read of them, the more I agree. The sketchy relationship development, the H&h barely spending time together, few or no kisses,... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars These Old Shdes by Georgette Heyer
I first read this book over forty years ago and my enjoyment has not waned. The characters are very well drawn and believable, I can see them all in my head. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ms. E. Barnard
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my top Heyer favourites...
This is one of Georgette Heyer's most delightful books and one which I have read a multitude of times. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Successful
4.0 out of 5 stars nice gift
delivery was excellent cannot fault this, was given as a gift and they were very happy with this to add to their collection
Published 4 months ago by mrs gm west
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
The story and the characters were entertaining, though not be as well written as some of Heyer's other books. But I did end up falling in love with them. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jane Austenite
5.0 out of 5 stars fan of georgette Heyer
I loved the story. Love Georgette Heyer. My mistake thought they were CDs. I have the facility to play them so it was fine. Hope to buy some more by Heyer shortly.
Published 7 months ago by b. stucken-simpson
5.0 out of 5 stars Georgette Heyer
needs to be rediscovered. Brilliant, funny books and if you like them you have a good stream of new books.
Published 7 months ago by Tamurello
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