This has been an exceptionally good reading week, with one new book and two rediscovered favorites.
— Georgette Heyer, These Old Shades.
I am ashamed to admit that I had never read this particular Heyer before. Its sequel, Devil’s Cub, is one of my all time favorites, but back in my grad school days in London, when I was buying up Heyers by the dozen to read during my lunch break at the British Library, I’d taken a quick look, seen that it was a “girl masquerades as boy” plot, and passed it over for April Lady and Sprig Muslin. We all have our kryptonite plots, the ones we absolutely won’t touch, and for me it’s the breeches role. (With certain exceptions.) In any event, another example of why categorical prejudices are always a bad idea: having belatedly read it, I enjoyed it tremendously, although it did rather fascinate me to see how much more like her early swashbucklers it reads than her later romances.
— Georgette Heyer, Sylvester: or The Wicked Uncle.
Speaking of her later romances…. Sylvester showcases Heyer’s brilliance at embodying the absurd. Three words: Sir Nugent Fotheringby. This one is right up there with Sprig Muslin for me in terms of laugh out loud at inconvenient moments. Even better? A heroine who has (secretly) written a wildly successful Gothic novel….
— Sarah Caudwell, Thus Was Adonis Murdered.
This was a delightful rediscovery for me. I adored the Sarah Caudwell mysteries when I was in grad school– all featuring ambiguously gendered academic Hilary Tamar and his barrister buddies at Lincoln’s Inn. The narrative is first person and delightfully tongue in cheek. There’s a certain tinge of Rumpole of the Bailey to them.
Now I don’t know whether to read the second Caudwell mystery or go for another Heyer….
What have you been reading this week?