#148 ~ False Colours


False Colours by Georgette Heyer

When I was first offered the opportunity to read and review some of Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances, I had a hard time selecting between The Reluctant Widow and False Colours. I chose The Reluctant Widow, but bought False Colours with my first Christmas gift card.  Now, I am thankful that I chose The Reluctant Widow because had False Colours been my first of Georgette Heyer’s novels, I probably would not have picked up another one.  I’m glad that I did not miss out on The Reluctant Widow.

This novel has an interesting premise.  Evelyn and Kit Fancot are identical twin brothers.  Evelyn, as the eldest son, has taken over his father’s title – and his mother’s enormous debt.  Shortly after learning of his mother, the Lady Denville”s financial crisis, Evelyn asks for Cressy Staavely’s hand in marriage so that his uncle will release the money due to him.  A dinner is planned so that Evelyn, a Regency playboy, can meet and win over Cressy’s aunt, the Dowager Lady Stavely.  Kit returns home from London to find his beloved mother in a stew because Evelyn’s gone missing on the eve of the dinner.  Because he can’t bare to have his mother so upset, Kit agrees to impersonate his twin for that one night.  Of course, when Evelyn neither returns nor sends word of what’s keeping him from London, Kit is forced to assume his brother’s identity indefinitely.  Things become even more complicated when Kit finds himself in love with Cressy.  Will stepping in to help his brother and his mother take care of a messy situation cost him his own heart and happiness?

It did not take me long to wonder when this novel would end.  Unlike The Reluctant Widow, there was very little action in this story.  It was mainly told in conversations between Kit and Lady Denville.  As a result, it wasn’t very compelling.  Any suspenseful situation was already resolved to the degree that mother and son could laugh about it good naturedly or never actually made it into the novel at all.  There were so many missed opportunities for drama, such as the scene when Kit is found out.  Instead, uniteresting  anti-dramas, such as  a confrontation with the mother of one of Evelyn’s flings, were added instead.

Two things really bothered me the most in this novel: 1) there was so much Regency lingo/slang that it was hard to read. It seemed as though Kit, Lady Denville, and Evelyn couldn’t go a single second without using some sort of phrase specific, I assume, to that time period. Heyer didn’t write this way in The Reluctant Widow at all.  2) Lady Denville may have been coddled all of her life and almost unnaturally so by her sons, but I found her inability to economize frustrating. I understand that people have compulsions – and hers may very well have been to shop – but her real problem was living among a sorry group of co-dependent men. I would have rather seen her take responsibility for herself and her actions than be rescued yet again – even if that meant Kit and Evelyn not succeeding.  As a result, I cannot recommend False Colours.  It is never a good thing when you’re rooting against your main characters.  I’m hoping that my other Heyer Regency romances are better.  One more like this and I don’t think I’ll try another.


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  • At 2009.03.17 05:06, Sandy said:

    I have that song stuck in my head!!!!!!

    It is quite refreshing to get a review that tells it like it is, which you have done here. I would feel the same way. I suppose it could be a testament to good writing if I want to smack the crap out of the protagonist, but it doesn’t seem to me that this is what the author was going for! I would also struggle with the prose. There are too many great books out there, so why should we have to work that hard?

    Sandy’s last blog post.."The Giver" by Lois Lowry (audio) with a guest post by Ryan

    • At 2009.03.17 09:03, Melissa said:

      I’m sorry to hear you didn’t like False Colours. It wasn’t one of my favorite Heyers, either, but I didn’t mind it so much, myself. As someone who’s read all of her Regency books multiple times, I’d recommend the following:

      ~Lady Of Quality
      ~The Grand Sophy
      ~These Old Shades (this is actually set a bit before Regency)
      ~The Devil’s Cub (includes characters from These Old Shades)
      ~Regency Buck

      There are several others that are good, but these are some of my favorites. Lady of Quality was the first Heyer I read. I enjoy her books more for the bantering back and forth between the protagonists than anything, though she does have some books with action, too.

      Melissa’s last blog post..Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

      Melissa, thank you for your comment and standing up for Georgette Heyer. I think that my strong reaction against False Colours was because I loved The Reluctant Widow so much. I’m going to give Frederica, Cousin Kate, and A Convenient Marriage a try. Now that I feel that one of her novels could go either way, I won’t have so much anticipation built up. I already have Lady of Quality, and I’m so glad that you liked that one so well. I was wondering if her later novels weren’t as good as the earlier ones.

      • At 2009.03.17 12:42, Seaside Book Blog said:

        I have just given you a award. Check it out at my website at Seaside Book Worm.

        Seaside Book Blog’s last blog post..Wow, From Boston Bibliophile

        • At 2009.03.17 22:31, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

          Oh great, now I’m a little worried about my Georgette Heyer experience, what if I picked a bad one? Mine isn’t on Melissa’s list either.


          Jen – Devourer of Books’s last blog post..The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Book Review

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          • At 2009.03.17 23:20, Ruth @ Bookish Ruth said:

            As I mentioned on Twitter, I’ve had this one for awhile and haven’t been able to get into it. I guess I know why now. I’m going to try my luck with The Reluctant Widow.

            Ruth @ Bookish Ruth’s last blog post..Book Review: Lighthouse Dog to the Rescue by Angeli Perrow

            • At 2009.03.20 22:13, bookworm said:

              I read The Reluctant Widow and enjoyed it. I have two more Heyer books in my TBR.
              Sorry you didnt enjoy this one too much.

              bookworm’s last blog post..TGIF

              • At 2009.06.13 19:39, False Colours « Jackets & Covers said:

                […] 0 Balance of Opinion: Book-A-Rama, The Literate Housewife Review, The Printed Page Filed under: 2009, Author: H, Balance of Opinion, Book Reports, Cover Copy, […]

                • At 2010.06.11 19:04, False Colours « Ardent Reader said:

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