Our Favourite Heyer Reviews: These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer, The Daily Standard (1926)

This review from Brisbane’s The Daily Standard (December 11, 1926) might seem a touch dismissive — calling the novel “confectionary” as it does — but it properly appreciates the wit that imbues the tale, and is a very resounding recommendation withal.


However sober people may be in their literary tastes, most of them turn at times from heavier mental food to the gay confectionery of romantic fiction. The daintiest of literary bon-bons is this story of the fashionable lords and ladies of France in the reign of Louis XIV., of a dissolute English duke, and of a red-headed page who alters the destiny of many people.

Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon, has reached the age of 40, with the nickname of “Satanas” and a vicious reputation as his sole gains. Squandering a fortune in his youth, he wins another at the gaming table, and gives himself over to self-indulgence, being connected with a succession of sordid scandals. His assets, if they may be considered, are good looks, intellect, and loyalty to the friends he chooses to keep.

For a whim he adopts a red-headed page, whom he discovers to be the daughter of his bitter enemy, de Saint Vire. Avon plans to use her as the instrument of his revenge, but Leonie, the page, has other views on the subject. For the first time the gay profligate finds himself an object of adoration, set upon a lofty pedestal of trust.

Life in sordid surroundings has not left Leonie untouched. She knows of Avon’s reputation with women, yet is confident that he will never harm her. The cynical philanderer is disarmed by the innocent audacity of a girl half his age, and after a series of exciting adventures Leonie becomes the Duchess of Avon. The story is told with a ready wit that makes bright reading.