Powder and Patch
Grade : A

When I was about sixteen, one of my sisters introduced me to Georgette Heyer's work through Powder and Patch, a deliciously frothy Georgian. (Incidentally, I still have that copy, a PAN paperback that cost 2/6 -- about a quarter. On the front, it describes the book as "A gay romance of the 18th century!)"

Philip Jettan is "some twenty-three years old, tall and handsome," but as his father told his uncle, "an unpolished cub." His fashionable, rakish father and uncle have tried desperately to make him into an exquisite of the Georgian age, in power, patch, and paint. Philip just wants to wear comfortable clothes and look after his land.

Until, that is, Cleone Charteris a neighbor he has loved for ever, returns home decidedly fashionable, and with an equally fashionable suitor. That leads him into the folly of challenging the suitor, and being dismissively defeated. His rough, bloodstained insistence that Cleone choose him leads her to blurt out that she would not dream of marrying "a raw country bumpkin."

With the hypersensitivity of hurting youth, Philip declares, "You do not want an honest man's love. You want the pretty compliments of a doll." Thus he sets off to become the most fashionable, mincing exquisite of the age. And, of course, succeeds. Six months later in Paris, Philip prepares for the evening, watched by an appreciative friend who has just recommending a particular event.

"It will be amusing, and the play will be high, which is all that matters."

"But de Chambert wears puce small cloths," objected Philip.

"Does he? Mordieu, I'd like to see that! Puce smallclothes, forsooth! And what does our Philippe wear?"

Philip glanced lovingly down at his pearl-grey breeches.

"Grey, and palest pink, with lacings of silver." He slipped out of his gaily-hued robe and stood up.

De Bergeret leveled his eye-glass at him. "Parbleu, Philippe! Grey lace."

Philip shook out his ruffles. "A sweet conceit, hein? But wait! Francois, my vest!"

His valet bought it, and helped Philip to put it on. It was an exquisite confection of pink and silver brocade.

De Bergeret was interested. "I'll swear you designed that, Philippe! Now for the coat."

When Philip had at last succeeded in entering into the coat it was some ten minutes later. Francois stepped back panting; Philip arranged his sword to his satisfaction.

"A careless sprinkling of rubies, hein? One in the cravat, one here, another in my wig. And on my fingers, so. . ."

"Perfect!" applauded de Bergeret. "Tonerre de dieu, pink humming birds on your stockings!"

I instantly fell in love with the whole idea of these men who spent so much time on their silk and lace, and who then minced off in high-heeled shoes to challenge someone to a duel to the death.

I also fell in love with Heyer. This is a young book with young characters, and no pretensions to depth at all except in the obvious message that what's beneath counts most in the end. But it's a fun read, mostly in light, fast-paced dialogue. Bear in mind that it was written in 1922 and I think any reader with a taste for this type of book would still enjoy it today. Other excellent Heyers are These Old Shades, Devil's Cub, Convenient Marriage, The Grand Sophy, and Venetia.

Reviewed by Guest Reviewer
Grade : A

Sensuality: Kisses

Review Date : July 14, 1997

Publication Date: 2004

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Recent Comments …

  1. What kept me reading was the sheer unpredictability of the storyline. I knew David’s and Chelsea’s paths would cross again…

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Over the years, AAR has had many a guest reviewer. If we don't know the name of the reviewer, we've placed their reviews under this generic name.
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