©2002 Georgette Heyer; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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