When the dashing Jack Carstares is unfairly accused of cheating at cards, he leaves the country in disgrace. Returning some years later disguised as a highwayman, his reappearance heralds a dramatic chain of events that includes a Duke, a damsel, a duel, and not one, but two kidnappings. Written when she was just 17, The Black Moth was Heyer’s first novel, but it bears many of the hallmarks of her later romances, being vivid, witty, and peppered with historical insight.
Public Domain ©1921 Georgette Heyer (P)2013 Naxos AudioBooks
Genre fiction, trashy to literary--mystery, action, sci fi, fantasy, and, yes, even romance. Also history. Listener reviews help a lot!
This is Georgette Heyer’s first book; it appeared in 1921, when its author was only 19 or 20 years old. In a letter to her agent two years later, Heyer herself called it "a very juvenile effort." That seems harsh to me, although the story is definitely over-the-top melodramatic. But even this early in her career, Heyer displayed a sense of humor and sophistication that lift this somewhat silly and highly implausible story above the average.
The Black Moth is Hugh "Devil" Belmanoir, Duke of Andover. Even in the presence of Jack Carstares, the oh-so-lovable, handsome, and honorable hero, we are drawn to the villianous Duke. It seems Heyer must have felt the same way; in 1926 she wrote "These Old Shades," one of her best books, in which the lead character is the amoral Justin "Satanas" Alistair, Duke of Avon. "Shades" takes place several years after "Moth" and is set primarily in Paris, but it's recognizably about most of the same characters. "Moth" is definitely the backstory to "Shades," even though for some reason Heyer changed all the names. (Heyer extended the Duke's story to the next generation in "Devil's Cub," and his grandaughter Barbara appears at the Battle of Waterloo in "An Infamous Army.")
"The Black Moth" is not one of Heyer’s Regency (c. 1800) novels, it is set around 1750. The language is arcane but witty. Rhind-Tutt, a narrator I’ve never encountered before (I would have remembered that name), takes some getting used to (he r-e-a-d-s r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w) but gets into the action as the melodrama escalates. The climactic duel between Jack and the Duke is great, Jack’s agonized rejection (for her own good, of course) of the woman he loves is heartbreaking, and the Duke’s hilariously impromptu dinner party at the book's end is a delight. These scenes are as good as any Heyer ever wrote. Thanks to Naxos for giving us this one unabridged. I thought I read somewhere that Naxos will be releasing more unabridged Heyers. If so, there go my credits!
The Black Moth is Heyer's first book and as such, it's not as memorable or as refined as her later stories. The melodrama is so thick you can almost wade through it ... a fact which is not assisted by Julian Rhind-Tutt's narration, which seems to be melodramatic by default. One other point on the narration - he plays Lavinia very poorly, making her very shrill and unpleasant from the beginning. The story seems to indicate that we should grow to like her, or at least to feel sorry for her. Nevertheless, once you start laughing at the ridiculous situations and relationships and allow yourself to get accustomed to the narration, it's an enjoyable story.
I cannot sufficiently express how thrilled I was to see another Georgette Heyer novel released to Audio. And with an entirely new narrator, no less!
I have read Georgette Heyer's novels for decades, and have never tired of the wit, humor, adventure and romance she brought to her stories, despite having read and re-read every single one of them over the years (I have worn out the books!). She is my all-time favorite romance author, and I have downloaded every unabridged audiobook on Audible, and continuously check for new ones, since there are ~20 more that are not yet available. In my opinion, they should all be considered classics, since, IMHO, none of today's romances hold a candle to her books.
The Black Moth, her very first novel, was written when she was just a teenager. It expresses all of the charm of her future novels, and of the 40+ romance novels she wrote, is one of my top 5. The story is well told, and includes a charming aristocrat forced by circumstance into becoming a highwayman, a beautiful heroine just waiting to be rescued, a depraved but omniscient villain, a guilt-ridden brother and his spoiled wife, and countless other characters who bring the story to life. Written in the Georgian Period (1750's), GH uses her unsurpassable flair for describing the clothing, manners, and characters of the period to paint a scrumptious picture of each scene, whether it be a kidnapping, a society ball, or a duel.
This new narrator, Julian Rhind-Tutt, did an excellent job of portraying the male characters, and his interpretation of the Duke of Andover was just perfect (I wish he would re-record THESE OLD SHADES (my #1) - since his voice is suited perfectly for the Duke of Avon in that novel - superior tone, but not foppish or nasal, like Cornelius Garrett's narration). He was not quite as good at the female voices, but all in all, he did a satisfactory job with them as well. I quite liked him.
To Audible.....PLEASE acquire the rest of GH's novels! I am sure I am not the only one out there looking for them. But stay away from the Abridged versions - to miss ANY of GH's words is simply a crime.
Heyer's wonderfully developed characters come alive perfectly with the voices developed by Julian Rhind-Tutt.
Georgette Heyers 'sequels' to The Black Moth - These Old Shades and Devils Cub are worth a read.
Julian Rhind-Tutt does an exceptional job narrating this book as his voice characterisations are perfect. He understands each character and the way they speak and encapsulates their personalities so well. He's the best narrator I've ever heard.
I couldn't put it down!
Thank you Julian Rhind-Tutt.
Previously this was not one of my favourite Georgette Heyer novels but Julian Rhind-Tutt infuses such life and drama into the story through his talent for creating different voices. I found myself wanting to listen for hours while at the same time wanting to prolong the enjoyment of listening by not finishing it too soon.
Despite the charm and style demonstrated by the engaging hero Jack Carstairs, the villain of the piece, Tracey, Duke of Andover, is both sinister and fascinating as he manoeuvres to capture the lady with whom he has uncharacteristically fallen in love. Julian Rhind-Tutt captures the quietly confident personality of this sinister character perfectly.
This the first I have listened to but I will check out the others because I really enjoyed his reading.
A story of love and self discovery in an age of elegance.
If you enjoy elegant period style storytelling, you will love The Black Moth.
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
If you read this book and keep in mind that Heyer was 17 when it was published, which means she was probably 16 when it was written, you must consider it a masterpiece. It is not one of her best books, it is far more melodramatic than her later work. But in it you see the earliest example of her genius. It is a fully formed novel, with a fairly complex plot, multiple well developed characters, and complex relationships. In her later work, her intelligent, witty, humorous and sparkling dialog is unmatched. And we get numerous glimpses of it in The Black Moth.
Her attention to detail and her obvious knowledge of the styles, manners, customs and general history of the mid-18th century was astounding. A schoolgirl may have been expected to have a good knowledge of the government and wars of that time, but Heyer knew details about fashion, manners, actual people and custom that would have required extensive research, especially in the pre-Internet days of the early 20th century.
I read These Old Shades and Devil's Cub prior to reading The Black Moth, so I had a firm impression of the Duke of Avon's character. (He has a different Dukedom in the Black Moth). But those books also offered enough of the back story of the duke that I knew what to expect when I read The Black Moth. But I was surprised at just what an excellent job Heyer did of portraying the villain. He was indescribably evil and wonderfully fascinating. And she had the good sense to make her hero just as wicked and wonderful in his own way as the villain. So many times a great villain overshadows a wimpy hero and it is hard to understand why the heroine chose the good guy instead of the bad guy. In this book, the "good" guy was just "bad" enough, he was equally intriguing.
The narration was great as well.
The fact that Georgette Heyer wrote this at 17 is pretty astonishing. It's such a delightful book which, while perhaps not as polished as her later works, firmly establishes the charm and humour she would display throughout her career.
Heyer apparently first invented the story to tell to her sick younger brother, and it contains all the classic elements you'd expect from such an origin - an engaging hero who flirts with danger but actually has a heart of gold, a beautiful heroine who captures said heart, a ~dastardly~ villain you love to hate, lots of action, scandal and intrigue, plus a bit of bromance on top of all that.
I really enjoyed the characters, especially Jack and his best friend Miles, and I even empathised with the tiresome Lady Lavinia. One of my favourite things about Heyer's writing is not the lavish period descriptions or even the melodrama (though they're great too), but the connections between the characters. Whether it's sibling bonds (or lack thereof), enemies, friends, married couples or people just falling in love, the relationships always feel so very real and universal, enhanced by the witty and engaging dialogue.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt and he does an excellent job. The voices he gives to each character are strong - the male characters in particular - and his pacing and delivery are good.
The story was a little uneven and frankly quite baffling in places (the reason Jack had to leave the country seemed weak, for instance, though maybe I'm imposing too modern a judgement), but overall The Black Moth was a fun read and a great way to start my quest to consume all of Heyer's romances.
This is one of the earliest Heyer novels, but it is simply one of the best. Fun, exciting, witty with enough villainy thrown in to keep up the suspense. Julian Rhind-Tutt reads this novel with charm, finesse and his interpretation of the characters give it real dimension. His delivery of Tracy, Jack and Miles is super. And I am already back at the beginning for listen 2. I particularly liked his villain! Great book, great fun, and laugh out loud. What more could you ask for?
"Bewitching "Black Moth"."
This early work by Heyer contains, 'in nuce' the essence of all her historical novels. Julian Rhind-Tutt's reading is masterful. A pity nobody told him how to pronounce O'Hara's recurring "asthore"... I was anguished with the "ee"that replaced the "o" every time it cropped up. A small blemish on a wonderfully paced and well-interpreted performance.
DOES AUDIBILE INTEND RECORDING ANY MORE OF HEYER'S BOOKS? Please do! UNABRIDGED!!!!
"Been a Heyer fan since a teenager - her 1st novel"
Narration was particularly good - no silly voices for females by a male reader or vice versa
The highwayman meeting his victims at the inn.
An extremely well read book that you can immerse youself in with the accents etc which you don't always get when reading to yourself
Her books always make me smile - there's always humour
More unabridged Heyer - I want the complete set to match my paperbacks.
Absolutely, every time I listen, I hear something new
Probably Jack, because he's the hero, funny and has gorgeous clothes, but Devil Belmanoir is also fun. I love the drawly voice Julian gives him.
No this is the first. At first I was a bit doubtful, because I love Cornelious Garrret's readings, but as you keep listening he definitely grows on you.
It definitely made me laugh out loud, and though I didn't cry the passage where Jack leaves Diana is very touching.
Great fun and read with drama and verve
Hours of relaxing, listening to a great story beautifully read. Narrator picked me up and carried me along for the ride.
The whole ensemble of characters....
I loved his different voices and even his female ones worked.
I'd not read this Heyer more than once, years ago and Julian Rhind-Tutt has now put it up in my top 10 of her novels.
"Heyer's first novel - candid but very well read"
The reader adds pace and thrill to an otherwise very simple, rather naive story. Later works by Heyer depict more entertaining, nuanced love stories.
"Such a disappointment!"
This story was written by Georgette Heyer when she was around fifteen or sixteen years of age and is rated by quite highly and should have been a very welcome addition to all the others in my library. But, the narrator, whilst a very good actor, is not, in my opinion, a very good teller, at least of this one, of stories! I have been constantly irritated by his attempts at characterisations - which is a shame - sorry Julian!
The whole story is a wonderful example of writing by someone so young at the time!
The irritating wife of Richard - Lavinia
"A very enjoyable and rewarding listening experienc"
For an early work, it's astonishingly mature - all the three major plotlines were pulled together very well and the characterisation was very strong. The author's trademark irony and eye for the ridiculous and overblown are delicious.
His performance is excellent and very well-tailored to this particular title, principally because he has a real gift for bringing out the irony in a very dry way. There were times I thought his delivery was just a tad slow, but it nonetheless worked; he has a splendid way with what I call the “dandy drawl” à la Percy Blakeney (I’m thinking Leslie Howard in the 1934 film, here!), an affectation of speech often attributed to the dandy set in Heyer’s work (and other authors whose books are set in the Georgian and Regency periods).
Mr Rhind-Tutt’s characterisations are all very distinct - I especially liked his interpretation of Jack’s friend, Sir Miles O’Hara (complete with an excellently maintained Irish accent) and the way he voiced Tracy Belmanoir was spot on – soft, rather oily and somewhat threatening.
Not necessarily. I enjoyed it very much, but I liked having time between listening sessions to savour the world-building and the characters.
The ending was a little weak, but overall, this is an audio I'm sure I'll revisit often.
"Brilliant escapism, well told and well read"
The narrator captured the voices of the protagonists perfectly- especially the evil Duke of Andover.
The hero entering through a window "Just in time" This could have been really trite but the narrator built up the scene by the power if his voice to make it tense and scary.
I have read the book also and he brings the characters alive with his interpretation and voices.
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