Weekly Reading Round-Up

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?


  1. Kristen Allen-Vogel on August 23, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I read an ARC of Ostrich by Matt Greene, which is a first person narrated book about a brilliant twelve year old suffering from seizures, who’s mostly worried about if his parents are getting a divorce and why his hamster has been acting funny since he got back from the hospital. It’s similar to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in its appeal but it’s more definitely an adult book; younger teens the same age as the narrator wouldn’t be able to see all the things that he is missing.

  2. Sue G on August 23, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I have been busy at work and at home, so I have not been able to read as much as I would like. 🙁 Finished Orchid Affair and have started Luanne Rice’s The Lemon Orchard.

  3. Georgia on August 23, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I am working Rhys Bowen’s Heirs and Graces, and looking for something else. I think I may try the next Boris Akunin, or perhaps some Peter Wimsey.

  4. Yvette R on August 23, 2013 at 10:55 am

    In memoriam, I re-read two Elizabeth Peters stand-alones (for which I have a particular weekness): The Copenhagen Connection and Devil-May-Care. No murders, but each has a little mystery, some romance, and a lot of fun & adventure. She will be missed.

  5. Karen on August 23, 2013 at 11:15 am

    I’ve been reading Amelia Peabodys this summer on your recommendation (great thank you!) but was shocked to see Barbara ‘s obit in ny Times earlier this month.

  6. Melissa Terry on August 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    I finished The Ashford Affair. I loved it!! I am now reading Sense and Sensibility and Letter from Skye by Jessica Brockmole.

  7. Michelle on August 23, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I just finished The Passion of the Purple Plumeria! Thanks for a great story, I enjoyed it so much.

    Was so sad to see that Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels/Barbara Metz had passed. Long live the Emerson clan!

  8. Lori on August 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Heirs and Graces by Rhys Bowen
    Ladies Night /Mary Kay Andrews
    The White Queen/Philippa Gregory
    Next up The White Princess

    • Courtney on August 24, 2013 at 2:09 am

      Love the White Queen, but the White Princess made me so sad. Make sure you read Lady of the Rivers if you haven’t. It’s my second favorite of that series. =)

  9. Sheila on August 23, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    So glad you like These Old Shades, my son is named for the Duke of Avon.

    Currently reading Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, hard to categorize, but different and fun.

    I enjoyed Eloisa James’ latest, Once Upon a Tower, as well as Robert Rodi’s Dogged Pursuit, his story of competing in dog agility.

  10. Dara on August 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Finished Plumeria, which I loved! Also read Deanna Rayborn’s Lady Julia number 2, Silent in the Sanctuary. About to start number 3, Silent on the Moor.

    • Betty S. on August 25, 2013 at 5:11 pm

      All of the Lady Julia books are so good. You will love them!

  11. Christine on August 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I’ve been on a good streak of winning books lately, so lots of those. Just finished Garment of Shadows, part of a series of mysteries starring Sherlock Holmes’ wife, Mary Russell. It was pretty good – set in Morocco with beautiful descriptions and typical Holmes-like mystery solving. On tap are The Perfume Collector and Almost True Confessions, also both contest wins.

    During August Adventures, I found that the first 2 books in the Summerset Abbey series were on sale for Kindle so I grabbed those and I’m almost done with the first. I like it but I’m feeling like the mystery is dragging a bit. I just want to know what it is! Enough with the mean girls attitudes, just tell me!

  12. Ellen S. on August 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Been a busy week, but did manage to reread Agatha Christie’s The Boomerang Clue (Why didn’t they ask Evans). Copyright is 1932, but the setting seems to be a decade earlier. A clergyman’s fourth son and an earl’s daughter get involved in a mystery. Even though it was written almost 100 years ago, it still manages to hold your interest and pull you along!

  13. Pat D on August 23, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I read Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea; Heirs and Graces, 2 Margaret Maron books with Deborah Knott. Currently I’m in the latest Dido Kent book, A Place of Confinement.

    • Yvette R on August 23, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      I love the Dido Kent series! But I want the audio books, and they are very slow to reach the USA. I haven’t gotten the fourth book yet. Enjoy!

  14. Am7 on August 23, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    I read Maeve Binchy’s Silver Wedding. It’s not a romance or a comedy and parts of it are quite dark. (A dysfunctional family and wedding party meets up for the 25th anniversary.) I thought it was good.

  15. Vanessa on August 23, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    I finished reading Plumeria this morning! My gosh Lauren, it was such a pleasure to read!

    And without trying to sound like the Chevalier by injecting each sentence with innuendo, your little teaser at the end for Pink XI left me wanting more! 😀

    Now I’m on to book two of the Fairwick Trilogy: The Water Witch by Juliet Dark, the first book Demon lover was breathtaking!

  16. DJ La Haie on August 23, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    These Old Shades has always been my favorite Heyer! Harkening back to an earlier post discussion, I think the Duke of Avon is a prime example of a literary rake, though the character appears most rakish in the sort-of prequel The Black Moth, under the name Tracy Belmanoir, Duke of Andover…

  17. Courtney on August 24, 2013 at 2:05 am

    I’ve been finished up Julia Quinn’s Brigerton series. I started/finished “It’s In His Kiss” earlier in the week, and now I’m on the final installment – “On the Way to the Wedding.” I like Julia Quinn, though the last couple of Bridgertons have been a bit dull.

  18. Verity W on August 24, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I love Justin and Leonie – and having read These Old Shades makes it so much funnier when they crop up again at the start of Devil’s Cub. And Infamous Army is *almost* worth re-reading to get to see Mary and Dominic again. I say almost because it’s probably my least favourite of the Heyers – too much carnage and battlefield details for me. Sylvester is fabulous too. My mum gave me her set of Pan paperbacks and it has the best cover (http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1214249186l/1425328.jpg – but the picture doesn’t do it justice)

    Sounds like you’re at an ideal point to go back and re-read Venetia… Or Regency Buck.

    This week I have read Phryne Fisher #17, a couple of MC Beaton Regencies and the charming The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain.

    • Yvette R on August 26, 2013 at 5:09 am

      Infamous Army is not my favorite either, but I was very impressed several years ago to learn that GH’s picture of the Battle of Waterloo is considered (by people who’s job it is to consider such things) to be the most well-researched depiction of the Battle of Waterloo to appear in a work of fiction. I don’t know if that is still true, but she must have been reeeeeeeally good at research.

      • Verity W on August 28, 2013 at 5:15 am

        Oh I totally agree Yvette – I’m sure the Jennifer Kloester Heyer Biog said that Sandhurst (the British Army Officer training academy) used to make their students read it because it was so accurate.

        If I’d done that period at Uni I’d’ve tried to have dragged her into my history essays somewhere!

  19. Lara on August 24, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    I’ve been catching up on Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series. I love the intrepid Maisie and her band of family, friends and cohorts (Priscilla is my favourite; James could make me swoon – just need to see more of him).
    Two more books to go and I’ll have to go into mourning until the next one comes out. Boooooooo.

  20. Betty S. on August 24, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    I finished reading Letters From Skye, and it was amazing – have lots of tissues ready! I am now reading Brenda Joyce’s A Rose in the Storm (can’t get enough of books set in Scotland)while waiting for Mary Balogh’s latest, The Arrangement, to come out. This is a good series – she calls it The Survivor’s Club – that started with The Proposal.

  21. Claudine on August 24, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    I just finished the Ashford Affair. Loved it! Now, I am also reading book two, Silent in the Sanctuary, by Deanna Raybourn. My local library only had book two available, so I’m reading the Lady Julia series a little out of order. But, I was able to jump into the series and understand the backstory without any problem. 🙂

  22. Jeffrey on August 26, 2013 at 7:55 am

    I just finished Candice Hern’s Miss Lacey’s Last Fling and cannot remember another regency romance quite like this one.

    Quiet country mouse Rosie Lacey is tending to her widowed father and siblings in the country and at six and twenty is fast approaching spinsterhood.

    Not feeling quite right physically, she enlists their doctor’s opinion and his devastating diagnosis is she will die in a few months of the same mysterious illness that claimed her Mother.

    She begs her father for a season in London, having never experienced anything social in her life and he approves. She is chaperoned by her Aunt Fanny, who has a wild and scandalous past.

    Rosie is subjected to a total make-over by her aunt and she proceeds to cross items off her bucket list with wild abandon and enthusiasm.

    One of those items is to be thoroughly kissed and seduced by a handsome rake. Enter Max Davenant, the son of Aunt Fanny’s former lover who both desires her but still wants to protect her.

    And away it goes from there as Rosie becomes “Rosalind” and sets the ton into an uproar with her flaunting of convention.

    Great light-hearted story as usual from this author.

  23. leslie on August 26, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    I have the worst luck with the CAPTHA code on this site. Round 3.

    I read two books by Lian Dolan. Elizabeth The First Wife (which is my fav chick lit book so far this year) and Helen of Pasadena. I recommend both books.

    An Infamous Army and A Civil Contract are two of my favourite GH books. These Old Shades was my first GH. I found it and a few others while clearing out my Mimi’s house after she died in the seventies. I loved it as teen and I read it every few years and still feel the thrill of Justin and Leonie’s adventure.

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