“He displayed a magnificent leg.” (Georgette Heyer’s These old shades)

May 19, 2009

While having lunch with a friend a few days ago, i confessed my plans for this blog. On hearing the news, she unexpectedly gave such a loud squeal that everyone around us, including some rather raucous Spanish backpackers, were momentarily silenced. I hadn’t expected quite such an enthusiastic reaction ( The waitress at the cafe looked at us nervously, as if we were about to erupt into song-and-dance and scare all the rest of the clients away.) Yet it was good to know that at least one of my friends was going to give me encouragement instead of a blank look. She did have just one slight doubt:

“Surely you’re not going to diss Georgette Heyer.”

“Um, NO!” ( Waitress shuffles yet further away from our table.) 

“Thank goodness, you can’t snark on the high priestess of Regency. Especially not These old shades.

“Of course not! Thanks to Heyer i know that a man does not bow properly until he has ‘displayed a magnificent leg.’  ”

“And that a masterful hero can be manly and mince on red high heel shoes.”

“That he can wave his lavender chicken-skin fan towards dastardly villains and look convincingly threatening. You know. Like THIS” ( Waitress sighs audibly.) 

“That the requisite silly-woman foil  to over-excited heroine can be called Lady Fanny and that you should control your giggles. Only you can’t. Ha!”

” That a girl can pass as a boy for seven years when she is living in the Parisian gutter but a fine nobleman will detect her true sex and lineage within minutes.”

“He can then confidently assail his nemesis with the daughter he exchanged for a boy and heir to the title and bring him to his knees. I know, Heyer’s the business.”

“And where would we be without Heyer enrichening our vocabulary?   ‘pon rep is cool.”

“Yes, people think you’re either drunk or Scandinavian. Pity Heyer thinks it vulgar to say lawks.” 

“Oh go on, lets indulge, I’m sure she’s not looking. LAWKS”

“Hee. LAWKS! Now why is that waitress hiding behind the counter?”

Georgette Heyer is not only fantastic and impossible to truly snark at.  You can actually be seen out in public with her! Here’s the cover for a recent edition:




Suitable for your commute to work, no?

My obsession with jumble sale finds does mean that i have a soft spot for rather tacky editions from the 70’s and 80’s.





Ah, Leonie may not be luminous, but she is at least a dazzling beauty.

Beyond dated and therefore beyond fabulous, even if the snobby part of you won’t be seen with it on your daily commute.


2 Responses to ““He displayed a magnificent leg.” (Georgette Heyer’s These old shades)”

  1. cobaltblueofthedeepesthue said

    Oh Georgette! I lay dying at your feet!

    What a wonderful post, Malika, such humour, such eloquence. No, Heyer’s ‘These old Shades’ has all the outrageous ingredients for what might have turned out to be a dreary melodrama, if it had not been for the humour and well-written-ness. I daresay she must’ve howled with laughter whilst writing it…

    Yes, let´s introduce some Heyer-vocab in our daily life and by doing so, dazzle and alienate friends at the same time. Devil a bit & Stap me! (being all manly and mincing on those delectable red heels)

    While reading it, though, I couldn’t help but think at one point, ‘Dammit, this could’ve have been a wonderful gay romance!’, what with that ‘boy’ sitting at his feet and giving him doe-eyed looks no one would believe.
    (But that’s just my thing , you know. Thank you, Erastes!)

    Ah, garishly outdated book covers…oh my.
    The last book cover, how..how manly Avon looks, such presence of CHIN.

    Looking forward to your forthcoming foray into that which is chaste yet luminous !

    • Malika said

      Yeah, i saw the gay subtext coming from miles away and i’m not even vaguely into that kind of fiction. I wonder whether Heyer was conscious about the slah element in her book though ( scratches chin)? Hmm, maybe some author will give These old shades their own twist..
      Thank you for the lovely comment

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