Search - Georgette Heyer Omnibus Edition: These Old Shades / Sprig Muslin / Sylvester/ The Corinthian

Georgette Heyer Omnibus Edition: These Old Shades / Sprig Muslin / Sylvester/ The Corinthian
Georgette Heyer Omnibus Edition These Old Shades / Sprig Muslin / Sylvester/ The Corinthian
Author: Georgette Heyer
THESE OLD SHADES — Under the reign of Louis XV, corruption and intrigue have been allowed to blossom in France, and Justin Alastair, the notorious Duke of Avon and proud of his soubriquet 'Satanas', flourishes as well. Then, from a dark Parisian back alley, he plucks Leon, a redheaded urchin with strangely familiar looks,...  more »
ISBN-13: 9781850521914
ISBN-10: 1850521913
Publication Date: 1991
Pages: 704
Edition: Omnibus
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.

3.5 stars, based on 1 rating
Publisher: Peerage Books
Book Type: Hardcover
Members Wishing: 9
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reviewed Georgette Heyer Omnibus Edition: These Old Shades / Sprig Muslin / Sylvester/ The Corinthian on
THESE OLD SHADES includes the best of Ms. Heyer's considerable style. Her flair for witty dialogue, outrageous but believable characters -- and best of all -- real emotion is outstandingly displayed in this fast read of a book. The Duke of Avon, i.e., "Satanas" is a marvelous antagonist. His subtle, "bad boy" charm and engrossing intensity draws the heroine, Leonie, and the reader. The supporting cast of THESE OLD SHADES include figures from classic farce and classic Heyer: the foppish and hilarious brother, the society-conscious sister, the vulgar and wicked villain (Comte de Saint-Vire). All these characters romp, love and exchange funny, gorgeous dialogue with perfect period detail. Most satisfying of all is that at the heart of the story is very real, very passionate characters who will go to any lengths to win each other. These Old Shades is a smashup of several of my favorite romance plots all rolled into one story. Its a May/December where the hero is significantly older than the heroine. Its also a Guardian/Ward pairing as well as Employer/Employee.

THE CORINTHAIN - when Sir Richard Wyndham, fashionable young man-about-town and in every sense a true Corinthian, first meets Penelope Creed, he is on his way home from a London club --and quite drunk. She in turn is busily engaged in climbing out of a window in her aunt's house. The sheets Penelope has knotted together for her hasty exit are too short and she asks Sir Richard for help. The plot thickens when they discover they are both in the same predicament--being forced into marriage against their will.

Pen Creed, the cross-dressing heroine of the piece can't dissuade Sir Richard from coming along with her and she happily leads him into a labyrinth of problems as she is looking for her childhood sweetheart. From that point Sir Richard is thrown into a series of increasingly twisted, confusing and hilarious events. In between stolen diamond necklaces, suspect looking pick-pocketing coves, an eloping couple and a pursuing Aunt this has to rate as one of Heyer's more complex plots. Numerous stories converge and overlap - and to try to explain it would be a bit like trying to explain the plot of the Marriage of Figaro - impossible.
Needless to say Sir Richard's wit and good humor along with Pen's sense of the ridiculous coupled with her solemnly-uttered naivete makes this one of Heyer's funniest and most enjoyable books.

"Sylvester", or "The Wicked Uncle" was originally published in 1957, and is one of Georgette Heyer's more popular Regency novels. The wealthy, arrogant and pragmatic Sylvester Rayne, the Duke of Salford, in his twenty-eight year has taken it upon himself to marry, much to the surprise of his widowed mother, producing a short-list of five suitable debutantes that meet his exacting standards. However, among the list of beautiful and accomplished young women his mother does not see her first choice, the Honorable Phoebe Marlow, granddaughter of his godmother Lady Ingham. Sylvester travels to London to consult Lady Ingham, but he is put off by her inelegant attempt to fix the match solely based on the fact that her daughter, Phoebe's mother, and his mother were best friends. Meanwhile, word reaches Phoebe's spiteful stepmother that the Duke of Salford will shortly make an offer for her hand and commands her to accept. Horrified, Phoebe is also put off by the reasons for the alliance and her memory of meeting the cold, proud Duke of Salford from her London season. When they are formally introduced she is shy and dull, and he is unimpressed. In a panic, Phoebe runs away to London, and the sanctuary of Lady Ingham, escorted by her childhood friend, Tom Orde. A carriage accident interrupts their journey happened upon by Sylvester who thinks he has discovered a runaway marriage in progress. When a snow storm traps them all together at the local Inn, Sylvester begins to see that Phoebe is actually quite intelligent and interesting, and not at all the young woman of his first impression. Gallantly, he removes any concerns that she may be harboring on his proposing marriage to her. She in turn, is gratefully relieved sharing that nothing could possibly induce her to marry him!

In typical Heyer fashion her independent heroine and staid hero are the most unlikely couple imaginable. How she will bring them together is a humorous and engaging adventure, filled with pride, prejudice and misunderstandings. In addition, Heyer's cast of secondary characters are predictable, but most welcome: Ianthe the spoiled and impulsive widow of Sylvester's twin brother who thinks our hero is a villianous brute, Sir Nugent Fotherby her foppish and absurd fiancé, Tom Orde the steady and trusting family friend of Phoebe, and Lady Ingham the meddling but well meaning older relative among others. Heyer excels at bringing out the eccentric and the ridiculous in her characters played against dry humor like few can. The subplot of Phoebe anonymously writing a Gothic novel mirroring the personalities and physical characteristics of the ton is brilliant. When Sylvester's signature devilish-looking eyebrows show up in the novel on the villain Count Ugolino scandalizing the Ton, she unintentionally admits that she was the authoress resulting in a hilarious fallout. As with all of Heyer's romances, there is a hard wrought happy ending. How all the ill-informed opinions and misconceptions will be resolved, I will leave to the reader to discover.

SPRIG MUSLIN First I will admit, I laughed a lot reading this. But it wasn't a romance, more a madcap romp. A secondary character, Amanda, an enterprising, shameless prevaricator creates confusion, difficulty and danger as she executes her 'plan of campaign' to run away from her strict general grandfather and marry her military man. She also steals the spotlight from the lovers to be.

Amanda's collateral damage includes ruining a) the Corinthian hero's proposal to the shy, whimsical spinster heroine (Hester refuses him thinking he's bound to fall in love with the impetuous beauty, Amanda), b) nearly everyone's reputation as she fabricates impossible, scandalous relationships to explain the presence of inappropriate people and knotty situations she creates. The Corinthian tries to return her to her family and c) ends up injured for his troubles. She tells all and sundry she is being abducted. Soon, everyone in her sphere ends up fabricating whatever story is needed. It's a funny comedy of errors, certainly.

However, the romance merely bookends fiendish Amanda's shenanigans. Sir Gerard is gentlemanly and avuncular toward Amanda but spends most of the book with the hellion not Hester. Lady Hester, a spinster who has long had unrequited feelings for Gerard, refuses him out of hand and remains aloof from the situation until after complicated machinations, he runs afoul of yet another young man duped by Amanda into thinking Gerard is her abductor rather than savior. Amanda sends for Hester to nurse Sir Gerard and finally, and I mean FINALLY, the two lovers share time in the same room (the last 20-25 pages) though he is unconscious for a good deal of that. What we do see of the two together is tantalizing. I wish the author would have included more of them. They seemed delightful.