©2002 Georgette Heyer; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Set before the French Revolution, an English duke rescues a French "guttersnipe", with murky plans for his(?) future, but the brat turns the duke's plans on him -- Cinderella with a touch of Romeo and Juliet. This has always been my favorite Georgette Heyer book, and I love them all. "Devil's Cub" is the sequel, set in the next generation.
This is one of Georgette Heyer's best novels--full of mystery, sly humor, and romance between usual characters. I've listened to this book several times, and it still impacts me. One note: I put off buying this audiobook for a long time, even though it was one of my favorite paperbacks, because I didn't like the narrator's voice when I listened to the sample audio clip. After I bit the bullet and bought the audiobook, the narrator's voice grated on me for the first chapter. After that, I really grew to enjoy his voice and characterizations.
The narration for this book and for Devil's Cub, with a different narrator but the same style, is very stylized and "mannered." It does suit the books but it takes a little getting used to. The narration is imitating the speech of a 1700s fop. It's nasal and drawling. I think it lends atmosphere, but even though I really enjoyed the listen, I couldn't listen for hours and hours as I can for more natural narrators.
Having discovered Georgette Heyer's books more than 30 years ago and enjoyed reading and rereading many of them since then; I was thrilled to discover them in audio. So far I have listened to three Heyer books from Audible and...well, it has been a mixed bag. These Old Shades has been a difficult listen. Perhaps it is because my own imagination has developed a strong vocal idea of what certain characters should sound like. So I found myself gritting my teeth to get through this audio. As an example, the main character Justin is shrill, grating, and very "old" sounding. As if Justin was a man of 60 rather than a man of 40. Accents were a strange mish mash which didn't match the locations of the characters. For example, the story opens in France and characters have British accents. Leon the waif rescued by Justin, has a French accent but her brother sounds like a working class Brit. Details like this can really make or break a audio rendering. So while I still love Georgette Heyer, I really wish that this story had a different reader.
The book is one of my favorites. I so looked forward to this audio. The narrator is terrible. He gives the main character a lisp that sounds funny. I have struggled to ignore this, it even comes out in other characters. What a disappointment.
This is one of the classic G. Heyer stories. The performance was done well enough. The French phrases were charmingly performed, This is the only book were the main characters carry across another story line in another book by this author. The Devil's Cub is the second book to mention these characters. Worth a credit.
I have enjoyed other books read by Cornelius Garrett, so what possessed him to provide the Hero with the voice of a deaf, very elderly man in this one. Quite spoilt the story for me, and put me off buying any other books narrated by him.
I love Georgette Heyer. I have been reading and rereading and now listening to her for 45 years. I wanted to love this audio version but I just can't. While the narrator handles the French dialogue and has an amusing set of secondary characters, I could barely listen when Avon spoke. Instead of seeing a 40 year old "satan" I say a 60 year old fop who was more likely to like page boys than page girls. I couldn't believe that Leonie would be attracted to anyone who spoke in that fashion. I think Georgette Heyer would have been put off by her dashing, wicked hero being turned into an elderly fop.
These Old Shades is one of Heyer's best novels. It is the tale of the notoriously bad Duke of Avon and the dirty little "boy" named Leon he resuces from the street and makes his page. The Duke has his own reasons for rescuing Leon - which unfold through out and finally fully explode in a very dramatic chapter toward the end of the book.
Heyer's humor is ever present in the characters (the Duke's brother Rupert is a riot!) and the romance is also very much a part of the story line. As always, Heyer's romance books are very romantic and passionate but she does not resort to sordid details. Heyer's subtle portrayal of romance is much more passionate and intense than books that have explicit details of the sex act.
These Old Shades has an excellent plot and will delight you for hours. I was a little afraid to purchase this Audible version of the book because some of the reviews criticized the reader, but I took a chance and bought it. I am so glad that I did. I found the reader to be good. He has great accents and is able to prounouce the many French words that are included in this book. I was not turned off by his performance. Don't let the bad reviews deter you. This is a good performance/reading of a truly great Heyer novel.
"GREAT BOOK FOUND THE VOICE ACTING DIFFICULT"
I found the voice given to satanas the Duke of Avon querilous when it should have been assured and sardonic. although he sees himself as a great age he is only in his forties and while life was shorter then perhaps, he was a handsome, active virile man not a papery thin elder.
other voices were Ok to me but the romantic interest should always have the most beguiling voice. We are meant to be bewitched by him while seeing his dark side and this did not happen for me.
"Awful narration, great story"
I love Georgette Heyer books, and own almost all of the unabridged ones.
Would I try another narrated by Cornelius Garrett? No. His voices are all wrong for the characters, and I have only listened to this book once as a result, unlike my other Heyer audiobooks, which I enjoy over and over again.
My favourite character is the Duke of Avon because he is so devilish and clever but is capable of great feeling.
Michael Drew, who narrated Devil's Cub brilliantly (with many of the same characters) or Clifford Norgate, who did a wonderful job narrating Frederica.
Or Phyllida Nash, who narrates many other Heyer novels wonderfully.
I don't know because Hollywood so often messes up the original stories we love so much.
If it was done well and stayed true to the source material, I would definitely want to see it.
Please, please, please, get this audiobook re-recorded with a different narrator.I listen to Devil's Cub (the sequel) a lot, and I wish I could enjoy this one as much, but the narration makes that impossible.
I have read this book several times over the years. One of the main characters, the Duke of Avon, is portrayed wonderfully by the author as somewhat sinister, cool and softly spoken. I imagine a voice similar to Alan Rickman in my head! Yet when reading his part, the narrator gives him a loud, almost shouting voice, with a strange accent that almost sounds like a speech impediment! Leon/ie has a sweet French accent, but he gives her French brother a cockney accent, totally incongruous. Such a shame, one of my favourite books of all time, but I had to stop listening after 2 chapters as I couldn't bear it anymore. I shan't be purchasing any more books read by the same narrator.
"Dreadful Voice for a main character"
The book is great because you have your own character voices in your head.
Avon is my favourite character which makes the poor voice characterisation even worse!
A different narrator or even the same one but with a better voice for Avon!
Please, please, please re record this with a different voice for Avon.
Anyone who has read and loves this book will be appalled by the totally inappropriate voice given to the main character (the Duke of Avon) by the narrator. Other reviews have remarked on this too. I wish I had not wasted my money. Someone else suggested it should be rerecorded by Michael Drew who narrated the sequel brilliantly. I agree. I listened to the first chapter then turned it off and if I could totally delete it and get a refund I would.
Devil's Cub, the sequel. That's a good reading!
Absolutely not, especially if he is reading Georgette Heyer.
I DO LOVE this book. I have reread it time after time. But this audio version is DIRE!!
For goodness sake, get another recording of this done. One in which the narration reflects the story. I can't understand how a narrator or those doing the recording could get it so wrong! Garrett bellows a line of dialogue that ends "said the Duke softly". How can you do that if you are narrating properly?
"Lovely story but distracting narration"
The story is lovely and one of Georgette Heyer's best.it's a lovely bit of romantic escapism. The accuracy of the regency politics, personalities and fashions brings the story to life.
Most of his narration was lively and engaging, unfortunately the voice he gives the lead character is distracting as he makes him some sleazy and creepy which doesn't fit with the character at all.
"Good story, disappointing narration"
Excellent storyline but narrator rather disappointing. Had a wide variety of voices but some not very credible. Duke of Avon came over as too old and too suave.
The building up of tension when Avon tells his story to denounce St. Vire.
Didn't like his portrayal of Avon and thought Lady Fanny was a pastiche.
Go back to read the original in book form.
"These Old Shades"
One of my all time favourite Georgette Heyer novels, but the Duke of Avon would not speak like this. He was very softly spoken, sinister even at times. Very disappointed.
This is one of my favourite Georgette Heyer books, slightly let down for me by the narrator - I just HATED how he pronounced "Leonie".
If only I'd listened to Alison's review (at the top) and not bought this. I have read this book many times and it's one of my favourites. However as soon as Cornelius Garrett did the voice for the Duke of Avon my heart sank and I was just so irritated by it that I couldn't listen to any more. If only he'd just read the entire book in his normal voice - which is pleasant enough - but he makes the Duke not only sound much older than his 40 years but a like a complete twit! Also he seems so busy putting on this drawling twitty accent that he fails to get any expression into the conversations and it comes out like someone who can't act. The humour in the written speech is totally lost with the stupid accent - aaaaagh. I am really annoyed as you can probably tell!
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