Powder and Patch, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

From the desk of Lucy Bertoldi:

I’ve only begun reading Heyer’s books as of late last year and can honestly say that so far every single one has been a source of pure delight.  No surprise – Powder and Patch followed suit in keeping me well entertained.  This book, sweet, short, hilarious, with its oh-so-French flair was completed in one sitting.

The book is about Philip Jettan, son to the extravagant Maurice and nephew of Tom.  The latter are both highly fashionable men, who are well known in high society; whereas the good-natured, but somewhat simpleton and rough-on-the-edges Philip, leaves much to be desired.

Philip is, however, the loving flame of Cleone, a neighborhood friend and great beauty.  Cleone, along with the rest of Philip’s small family, all agree that the young man should get a make-over to improve his style, fashion sense, etiquette and social skills. Philip is not too keen on this and believes he should be loved for who he is.  He makes a strong point- Except that things change dramatically when a certain Bancroft comes to town…

Bankroft is handsome, well-mannered, sophisticated, well-versed, and ever so fashionable.  He also has a way with the ladies, and Cleone notices him immediately.  She is seemingly swooned by Bancroft who pays gracious attention to her every need.  Philip notices this but believes that Cleone is his sweetheart and that no one can ever come between them.  Cleone admits that she loves Philip but will not take him as he is…he definitely needs refining.  She would love him to be more romantic and worldly.

The decision is taken by both father and uncle – Philip is to go to France to become more civilized and worldly.  Philip, enflamed by jealousy, finally agrees, and off he goes to Paris.  There, a huge transformation takes place.  Elegance to the max, Philip is the center of all attention- no party is worth going if he’s not present. He’s got style, class, fashion…and, a way with words that makes every woman want to be with him.

When he comes back to England, he is a changed man.  But Philip wants to know if Cleone really loves the man, or the powder.  It is a struggle of wits, suitors for Cleone, love games, jealous rants and more.  Cleone is not used to this man who is no longer simple…intriguing to the max, she cannot resist him, yet she will not succumb.  What will happen?  Do they end up together or will Cleone marry another?

I loved this sweet story filled with old French sayings that I hadn’t heard in years (Salipopette!) the details in fashion and Phillip’s mundane experiences were totally amusing.  The characters are also perfectly suited to the story.  Heyer brings in Louis XV, la Pompadour and other figures of the times to further immerse us into a world of glamour, extravagance and fun – all precisely intended to heighten Phillips magnificent make-over.  The setting, the language, the story; everything about this book makes it an extremely enjoyable read.

Read an excerpt at Scribd

Lucy Bertoldi hosts Enchanted by Josephine – a blog dedicated to history, historical fiction, Venice… and of course, Empress Josephine.  Lucy lives in Montreal where she works as a Language Consultant-Teacher.  Her hobbies include reading, writing, historical research and creating art. You can follow her on Twitter as EnchbyJosephine.

Powder and Patch, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2010)
Trade paperback (192) pages
ISBN: 978-1402219498

Cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks © 2010; text by Lucy Bertoldi © 2010, Austenprose.com

37 thoughts on “Powder and Patch, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

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  1. French flair has always intrigued me. The use of french phrases is alluring to me since I love picking up new sayings. For this reason I would love to read this novel by Heyer.


  2. I’d love to read this – party because I haven’t read any Heyer and this week’s posts have been really intriguing – but also because the idea of men needing to be fashionable and “of the world” sounds fascinating. I still think they should be both of these things, but they so rarely are…


  3. How can French flair not be intriguing? I have enjoyed learning snippets of the Freanch language over the years, but I really enjoy Heyer! I think the two would be a clever combination, as shown by Lucy’s review. And everyone needs a short and sweet read every now and then. I look forward to reading this one!


  4. The French sayings would definitely intrigue me — I love bits of unexpected dialogue in my reading! I actually haven’t heard of this Heyer, but it sounds wonderful.


  5. This book sounds particularly interesting because there seems to be much more to it than simple romance. It’s always fun to find reflections of cultural values in books that look simple from the outside. France is always intriguing, but I always think it’s even more interesting to look at from an outside perspective. Especially an English perspective, since the English have such a long and complicated relationship with the French.


  6. This book is such fun! I particularly loved the made over Philip’s penchant for bad poetry. And the valet he brings back to England with him is one of my favorites in all of Heyer.


  7. This is one of Heyer’s older ones, and again her writing gifts are not at their full bloom, but you can certainly find the seeds here.


  8. I must confess that the title, despite being alliterative, turned me off. I never did like the aesthetic of ‘powder and patches’ on women, more especially in men. But after reading Lucy’s review, I am intrigued!

    The idea of the man having the make-over, instead of the woman, is potentially hilarious. And to have that transformation occur in France, no less! =) And details about the French fashion then would be most welcome.

    Off to the bookstore (or Kindle!) for this.


    1. If this title annoys you, Regency Romantic, maybe you can find an older copy – it was originally titled The Transformation of Philip Jettan, I believe!

      Yay for simpleton, rough-on-the-edges heroes! I don’t know how female readers feel about this sort of leading man, but they always manage to make me feel a little better about myself, lol. It does sadden me somewhat that he has to undergo a makeover in the course of the novel.


  9. I must confess Cleone was the rare GH heroine that I did not like. She sounded too immature and superficial for our hero Phillip Jettan. I am glad she saw the error of her ways in the end and changed her mind about her views on “refinement” just for Phllip’s sake.


  10. Heyer’s books have gorgeous covers too I noticed. I’m so delighted that you suddenly started this! I really wish to know her far better and list down the most possible books that I would buy if I find one.


  11. This is one I haven’t read and it does sound delightful. Since reading a couple of other books set around the time of Louis XV, I’ve become fascinated by the French setting.


  12. I’ve never read Heyer, and you’ve certainly whetted my appetite!~ This will be the book that finally lures me away from all things British, for a bit of “French fun.” (Merci!)


  13. This was my first Heyer! My mom started me with P&P when I was 11 years old. Not that I understood anythng in French, but I figured out enough to know that Philip’s friends didn’t like his poetry, but they loved him anyway. Great book!


  14. I love the cover. I know we have it at the library. I have shelved it and recommended it to many patrons, knowing it is the type of book they will enjoy. Have not yet read it. My TBR pile is too deep to bring another one home until later when I can get right to it.

    This sounds like a fun romp.

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net


  15. This one sounds good….though a little off-putting that Cleone says she loves him, yet wants him to change. I guess its just one you have to read to see if you like :-)


  16. Sounds like a charming story–I’ll have to get this Heyer for a snowy day this winter. I like the positive French angle–in the story I’m reading, they’re all villains!

    Enjoyed this review, and especially this line…

    >But Philip wants to know if Cleone really loves the man, or the powder.

    Made me smile!


  17. I found that when I read GH, I preferred to read all of the Regencies together and the Georgians together. Powder and Patch is Georgian, I believe. A lovely read.


  18. I like how Powder and Patch is set during the Georgian time period. I think France was very interesting during that time period, so Heyer’s ability to weave the country and the time period together to create a detailed world fitting for the characters was lovely.


  19. This is one of the few Heyers I haven’t read. I’m really curious as to how it ends. Will Philip be loved entirely for himself?!


  20. I discovered Georgette Heyer when I was 12. This is the only Heyer I don’t like. And, I’ve read all of them more than once over the past 30 years.

    I think that I feel so sorry for the hero the novel has no entertainment value for me.


  21. I guess make-overs have been around a long time and the desire to be loved for oneself. This sounds like a fun, light story with a French flavor .


  22. I like the idea of the hero getting a makeover and not the type of makeover where the heroine changes him but he changes out of jealousy. Upon changing he then needs to find out if she just loves the outside or the man. All of this with the glamorous setting of France, and Louis XV and Madame De Pompadour ,oh-la-la this sounds exquisite and fun!


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