This is the book that, along with Simon the Coldheart, Georgette Heyer suppressed and would not let be reprinted. She was at home with the Regency world though she would yearn to break out of this and write in different historical times, but try as she might she could never manage it and achieve the same level of success. Every time she tried, she came to grief. Powder and Patch, one of her very early books was slight with stilted language, set in the French court; Simon the Coldheart was set in the reign of Henry IV, full of 'thees' and 'thous' and not reading at all well, My Lord John another such. The Great Roxhythe is placed in the reign of Charles I, he is the King's favourite, modelled on the Duke of Buckingham. Under the mask of the man about town he is secretly acting as Charles's agent in his clandestine dealings with France.
In The Private World of Georgette Heyer, Jane Aiken Hodge describes this as 'probably the worst book Georgette Heyer ever wrote. Ths history comes akwardly in self conscious gobbets, the language is stilted and the plot minimal'. I have checked out Amazon and read the reviews written there about this title and they fall into two camps - loved it or hated it. I remember reading this particular story light years ago and have never seen it since, it is still out of print and though you can find copies you have to have a hunt for them. I was delighted, therefore, when popping into my local second hand bookshop to discover a copy which I immediately whipped off the shelf and found it was selling for the princely sum of £3. I have checked out this edition and the date of publication etc and it seems to appear on some websites such as Alibris and Abe Books, priced at around £90 so either I have the bargain of the year or else I am getting it wrong, but have double checked and as there are only a couple of publishers who have tackled this book, I think I might have struck lucky.
I am going to save this up and read it, not just yet, but when I am in the mood. Good to know it is on my shelf and this acquisition now completes my Heyer collection and that makes me feel pretty darn happy. Doesn't take much you know....
Off to the opera tomorrow night so will be back and posting on Friday.