When the dashing Jack Carstares is unfairly accused of cheating at cards, he leaves the country in disgrace. Returning some years later disguised as a highwayman, his reappearance heralds a dramatic chain of events that includes a Duke, a damsel, a duel, and not one, but two kidnappings. Written when she was just 17, The Black Moth was Heyer’s first novel, but it bears many of the hallmarks of her later romances, being vivid, witty, and peppered with historical insight.
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I cannot sufficiently express how thrilled I was to see another Georgette Heyer novel released to Audio. And with an entirely new narrator, no less!
I have read Georgette Heyer's novels for decades, and have never tired of the wit, humor, adventure and romance she brought to her stories, despite having read and re-read every single one of them over the years (I have worn out the books!). She is my all-time favorite romance author, and I have downloaded every unabridged audiobook on Audible, and continuously check for new ones, since there are ~20 more that are not yet available. In my opinion, they should all be considered classics, since, IMHO, none of today's romances hold a candle to her books.
The Black Moth, her very first novel, was written when she was just a teenager. It expresses all of the charm of her future novels, and of the 40+ romance novels she wrote, is one of my top 5. The story is well told, and includes a charming aristocrat forced by circumstance into becoming a highwayman, a beautiful heroine just waiting to be rescued, a depraved but omniscient villain, a guilt-ridden brother and his spoiled wife, and countless other characters who bring the story to life. Written in the Georgian Period (1750's), GH uses her unsurpassable flair for describing the clothing, manners, and characters of the period to paint a scrumptious picture of each scene, whether it be a kidnapping, a society ball, or a duel.
This new narrator, Julian Rhind-Tutt, did an excellent job of portraying the male characters, and his interpretation of the Duke of Andover was just perfect (I wish he would re-record THESE OLD SHADES (my #1) - since his voice is suited perfectly for the Duke of Avon in that novel - superior tone, but not foppish or nasal, like Cornelius Garrett's narration). He was not quite as good at the female voices, but all in all, he did a satisfactory job with them as well. I quite liked him.
To Audible.....PLEASE acquire the rest of GH's novels! I am sure I am not the only one out there looking for them. But stay away from the Abridged versions - to miss ANY of GH's words is simply a crime.
This is Georgette Heyer’s first book; it appeared in 1921, when its author was only 19 or 20 years old. In a letter to her agent two years later, Heyer herself called it "a very juvenile effort." That seems harsh to me, although the story is definitely over-the-top melodramatic. But even this early in her career, Heyer displayed a sense of humor and sophistication that lift this somewhat silly and highly implausible story above the average.
The Black Moth is Hugh "Devil" Belmanoir, Duke of Andover. Even in the presence of Jack Carstares, the oh-so-lovable, handsome, and honorable hero, we are drawn to the villianous Duke. It seems Heyer must have felt the same way; in 1926 she wrote "These Old Shades," one of her best books, in which the lead character is the amoral Justin "Satanas" Alistair, Duke of Avon. "Shades" takes place several years after "Moth" and is set primarily in Paris, but it's recognizably about most of the same characters. "Moth" is definitely the backstory to "Shades," even though for some reason Heyer changed all the names. (Heyer extended the Duke's story to the next generation in "Devil's Cub," and his grandaughter Barbara appears at the Battle of Waterloo in "An Infamous Army.")
"The Black Moth" is not one of Heyer’s Regency (c. 1800) novels, it is set around 1750. The language is arcane but witty. Rhind-Tutt, a narrator I’ve never encountered before (I would have remembered that name), takes some getting used to (he r-e-a-d-s r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w) but gets into the action as the melodrama escalates. The climactic duel between Jack and the Duke is great, Jack’s agonized rejection (for her own good, of course) of the woman he loves is heartbreaking, and the Duke’s hilariously impromptu dinner party at the book's end is a delight. These scenes are as good as any Heyer ever wrote. Thanks to Naxos for giving us this one unabridged. I thought I read somewhere that Naxos will be releasing more unabridged Heyers. If so, there go my credits!