Sunday, September 30, 2007

Who's Who In British History

         The History Today Who's Who In British History

                         Edited by Juliet Gardiner

A few months ago I came across a reference to this book.  I can't remember where or what the subject under discussion was, but I thought it might be a handy reference book to have around.  A couple of weeks ago I found a copy on Ebay with a starting bid at $5.00.  I was the only bidder and got it for that plus shipping.

It's a very handsome book, about three inches thick, with 40,000 entries covering over 2,000 years of British history.  (I could do without Cromwell's picture on the front, but I can live with it.)  The book was published in 2000 by Collins & Brown, Limited.

The book is edited by Juliet Gardiner, who also wrote the preface, but the entries are authored by six historians distinguished in their fields, with specialist contributions from eight period historians.  The entries are concise, but very descriptive.  The contributors chose for inclusion who they thought defined the historical period of their own expertise.  It is quite a comprehensive list, but by no means is it complete.  A complete "who's who" would undoubtedly fill a dozen more such volumes.   The book is easy to navigate, and I have been having a lot of fun with it.

My copy is in pristine condition with no tears in the dust jacket and no writing or stamping on the book at all; and I consider it a good bargain for the price I paid.  The original price inside the book jacket is £25.

I am proud to have it on my reference shelves.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

New Journal

I have now started a journal exclusively about Georgette Heyer.  I will be mirroring entries about her books written in this journal, and also will be writing more about her and her life in general.  Here is the link (it's also now in my sidebar):

Getting To Know Georgette

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"What was her mysterious parentage?"

       From My Heyer Shelves . . .

    Published in 1926

THESE OLD SHADES by Georgette Heyer

These Old Shades was Heyer's sixth published novel, and was set in Georgian times.  It tells the story of Leonie, a girl brought up in a humble home in Paris, but whose origins are anything but humble.

Through a series of interesting events, (and after first masquerading as his page "Leon") Leonie becomes the ward of the Duke of Avon.  The mystery of her real parentage lies in the hands of the Duke of Avon's enemy, the deadly Compte de Sainte-Vire, a man Leonie greatly fears. 

Published in 1926, the book is very much "of it's time", with a rather melodramatic tone.  It seems to be a favorite with members of the Heyer Listserv (book discussion group), and Avon is definitely a favorite hero with the ladies on the list.  Justin, Duke of Avon, is amusing, arrogant, self-centered, with a sometimes destructive wit at the beginning of the book.  About halfway through we see him maturing a bit; he is kinder, his good characteristics have strengthened, and he actually puts someone else's interests above his own. 

Leonie, I have to admit, annoys me at times; she worships Avon with slavish adoration and defends him to all.  The man's nickname is "Satanas", for goodness sake!  But I still have a kindness for her, and, as I said, he does grow up.  This is a Heyer that I do like to re-read once in a while. The characters of Justin's family are so very funny.  There is a lot of wit and charm in the book (which one expects of Heyer, after all).  I think my favorite character in the whole book is Rupert, the Duke's brother.  Rupert makes the book worth reading all on his own. 

It is a fast-paced, tension-filled book, which will keep you laughing throughout -- from the moment Avon first meets Leonie, dressed in boy's clothes and going by the name of "Leon", to the excellent chase and rescue at the end.  It is a feel-good read with hilarious dialogue throughout and characters that you can't help but love.  And although it is not in my personal top 10, I know some who put it in the #1 spot on their Heyer list.  So look for it in your library or buy an inexpensive paperback on Ebay or Amazon.  It's worth the read.

My copy of TOS is a Bantam Books paperback, published in 1970.  It is one of only a few that I do not yet have in hard cover.

Note:  Heyer did not do sequels, but it is generally accepted by "Heyerites" (and stated by Heyer biographer Jane Aiken Hodge) that she did take the main characters in The Black Moth and use them again, under different names, in These Old Shades.  She titled the book so as a hint to her readers; the characters in TOS were "shades" of those in TBM.

Since TOS was published in 1926, she was probably writing it at the time of her marriage to Ronald Rougier in 1925.  It was published during what is known as The General Strike in England when there were not only no trains or newspapers, but no advertising or reviews, either.  Yet the book was an instant success.  Hodge suggests Heyer may have been encouraged to believe that she didn't need publicity to have a successful novel, after TOS sold 190,000 copies on publication.

My list, so far:

1.  Simon The Coldheart

2.  These Old Shades

3.  The Great Roxhythe

4.  Powder and Patch

5.  The Black Moth

6.  Instead of the Thorn

Someday I'll Laugh About This

From My "Young Adult" Shelves



I bought this book at a library sale.  I don't believe I've ever read anything else by this author, but the blurb on the book jacket got my attention, and I'm glad it did.

This is the story of a 12-year old girl who can't wait to get to the family's cottage on the Oregon coast for the yearly vacation with her cousins.  This is a very sweet, coming-of-age book, that describes the simple pains and pleasures of being on the cusp of adulthood.

Her favorite cousin, one year older than herself, has changed out of recognition, mooning over a boyfriend and making friends with the daughter of the despised developer who threatens to change the coastal scenery the family has enjoyed for more than two generations.  Her favorite uncle is coming to visit and bringing someone "special" with him, whom Shelby does not want to meet at all.

The book is fast-paced, with a family of funny characters, and all of the angst of growing up and having to face those inevitable changes.  Linda Crew writes about her inspiration for the book here.  I really enjoyed it, and look forward to my daughter reading it.

Someday I'll Laugh About This was published in 1990 by Delacorte Press, part of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.