False Colours

False Colours

by Georgette Heyer


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"Reading Georgette Heyer is the next best thing to reading Jane Austen."-Publishers Weekly

A missing twin
Something is very wrong, and the Honourable Christopher "Kit" Fancot can sense it. Kit returns to London on leave from the diplomatic service to find that his twin brother Evelyn has disappeared and his extravagant mother's debts have mounted alarmingly.

A quick-minded heiress
The Fancot family's fortunes are riding on Evelyn's marriage to the self-possessed Cressy Stavely, and her formidable grandmother's approval of the match. If Evelyn fails to meet the Dowager Lady Stavely in a few days as planned, the betrothal could be off.

A fortune in the balance
When the incorrigible Lady Fancot persuades her son to impersonate his twin (just for one night, she promises) the masquerade sets off a tangled sequence of events that engage Kit's heart far more deeply than he'd ever anticipated with his brother's fiancée-who might know much more about what's going on than she cares to reveal...

"A writer of great wit and style... I've read her books to ragged shreds." -Kate Fenton, Daily Telegraph

Georgette Heyer (1902-1974) wrote over fifty novels, including Regency romances, mysteries, and historical fiction. She was known as the Queen of Regency romance, and was legendary for her research, historical accuracy, and her extraordinary plots and characterizations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402210754
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 03/01/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 275,346
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

The late Georgette Heyer was a very private woman. Her historical novels have charmed and delighted millions of readers for decades, though she rarely reached out to the public to discuss her works or private life. It is known that she was born in Wimbledon in August 1902, and her first novel, The Black Moth, was published in 1921.

Heyer published 56 books over the next 53 years, until her death from lung cancer in 1974. Heyer's large volume of works included Regency romances, mysteries and historical fiction. Known also as the Queen of Regency romance, Heyer was legendary for her research, historical accuracy and her extraordinary plots and characterizations. Her last book, My Lord John, was published posthumously in 1975. She was married to George Ronald Rougier, a mining engineer, and they had one son together, Richard.

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter 1

It was past two o'clock when the job-chaise turned into Hill Street; and, as the watchman wending his way round Berkeley Square monotonously announced, a fine night. A full moon rode in the cloudless sky, dimming the street-lamps: even, as the solitary traveller had noticed, in Pall Mall, where gaslighting had replaced the oil-burners. Linkmen, carriages, and light streaming from an open door on the east side of Berkeley Square indicated that not all the members of the ton had left London; but at the end of June the Season was drawing to a close; and it did not surprise the traveller to find Hill Street deserted. It would not have surprised him if the knocker had been removed from the door of a certain house on the north side of the street, but when the chaise drew up a swift scrutiny reassured him: the Earl of Denville's town residence had not yet been abandoned for the summer months. The traveller, a young man, wearing a tasselled and corded Polish greatcoat, and a shallow-crowned beaver, sprang down from the chaise, dragged a bulging portmanteau from the floor of this vehicle, set it down on the flagway, and pulled out his purse. The postboys paid, he picked up the portmanteau, trod up the steps to the front-door, and gave the iron bell-pull a tug.

By the time the last echo of the clapper died away the chaise had disappeared, but no one had responded to the bell's summons. The traveller gave it a second, and more vigorous, tug. He heard it clanging somewhere in the nether regions, but was forced to conclude, after waiting for several minutes, that it had failed to rouse any of my lord's servants.

He considered the matter. It was possible, though unlikely, that the household had removed from London without taking the knocker from the door, or shuttering the windows. To verify that the windows had not been shuttered he retreated to the flagway, and scanned the house, perceiving that not only were all the windows unshuttered but that one of them, on the entrance-floor, had been left open a few inches at the top. This gave, as he knew, on to the dining-room; and to reach it presented a lithe and determined young man with no insuperable difficulty. Divesting himself of his greatcoat, and trusting that no watchman would come down the street in time to observe his clandestine entry, he proceeded to demonstrate to the uninterested moon that Colonel Dan Mackinnon, of the
Coldstream Guards, was not without a rival in the art of perilous climbing.

No such thought entered the Hon. Christopher Fancot's head: he was not acquainted with Colonel Mackinnon; and he did not think the feat of reaching the desired window-sill either dangerous or difficult. Once there it was easy to thrust up the lower sash, and to swing himself into the room. A couple of minutes later he emerged into the hall, where, upon a marble-topped side-table, he found a lamp burning low, with an unlit candle in a silver holder standing beside it. Observing these objects with an intelligent eye, Mr Fancot concluded that their noble owner had told his servants not to wait up for him. The subsequent discovery that the front-door was unbolted confirmed him in this belief. As he opened the door, to retrieve his belongings from the porch, he reflected, with an inward chuckle, that when his lordship did come home at last he would find his bed occupied by a most unlooked-for visitor, and would in all probability think that he was a great deal boskier than he had supposed.

On this thought, which appeared, from the mischievous smile which played about the corners of his mouth, to afford Mr Fancot amusement, he kindled the candle at the lamp's low flame, and made his way towards the staircase.

He went softly up, the candlestick held in one hand, his port¬manteau in the other, and his greatcoat flung over his shoulder. No creaking stair betrayed him, but as he rounded the bend in the second flight a door opened on the floor above, and a voice said anxiously: 'Evelyn?'

He looked up, seeing, in the light of a bedroom-candle held aloft in a fragile hand, a feminine form enveloped in a cloud of lace, which was caught together by ribbons of the palest green satin. From under a nightcap of charming design several ringlets the colour of ripe corn had been allowed to escape. The gentleman on the stairs said appreciatively:'What a fetching cap, love!'

The vision thus addressed heaved a sigh of relief, but said, with a gurgle of laughter:'You absurd boy! Oh, Evelyn, I'm so thankful you've come, but what in the world has detained you? I've been sick with apprehension!'

There was a quizzical gleam in the gentleman's eyes, but he said in accents of deep reproach: 'Come, come, Mama — !'

'It may be very well for you to say Come, come, Mama,' she retorted, 'but when you faithfully promised to return not a day later than —' She broke off, staring down at him in sudden doubt.

Abandoning the portmanteau, the gentleman shrugged the greatcoat from his shoulder, pulled off his hat, and mounted the remaining stairs two at a time, saying still more reproachfully: 'No, really, Mama! How can you be so unnatural a parent?'

'Kit!' uttered his unnatural parent, in a smothered shriek.'Oh, my darling, my dearest son!'

Mr Fancot, receiving his widowed mama on his bosom, caught her in a comprehensive hug, but said, on a note of laugh¬ter: 'Oh, what a rapper! I'm not your dearest son!'

Standing on tiptoe to kiss his lean cheek, and dropping wax from her tilted candle down the sleeve of his coat, Lady Denville replied with dignity that she had never felt the smallest prefer¬ence for either of her twin sons.

'Of course not! How should you, when you can't tell us apart?' said Mr Fancot, prudently removing the candlestick from her grasp.

'I can tell you apart!' she declared. 'If I had expected to see you I should have recognized you instantly! The thing was, I thought you were in Vienna.'

'No, I'm here,' said Mr Fancot, smiling lovingly down at her. 'Stewart gave me leave of absence: are you pleased?'

'Oh, no, not a bit!' she said, tucking her hand in his arm, and drawing him into her bedchamber.' Let me look at you, wicked one! Oh, I can't see you properly! Light all the candles, dearest, and then we may be comfortable. The money that is spent on candles in this house! I shouldn't have thought it possible if Dinting hadn't shown me the chandler's bill which, I must say, I wish she had not, for what, I ask you, Kit, is the use of know¬ing the cost of candles? One must have them, after all, and even your father never desired me to purchase tallow ones.'

'I suppose one might burn fewer,' remarked Kit, applying a taper to some half-dozen which stood in two chandeliers on the dressing-table.

'No, no, nothing more dismal than an ill-lit room! Light the ones on the mantelpiece, dearest! Yes, that is much better! Now come and tell me all about yourself !'

She had drifted over to an elegant day-bed, and patted it invit¬ingly, but Kit did not immediately obey the summons. He stood looking about him at the scene he had illumined, exclaiming: 'Why, how is this, Mama? You were used to live in a rose-garden, and now one would think oneself at the bottom of the sea!'

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False Colours 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's all to save face, of course, and to help save Mama from becoming impoverished. The humor is not slapstick, but comes from character and situation. One of this author's best
HunyBadger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Being my first Heyer novel, I enjoyed the wit and humor. However, I was constantly thrown off balance by the characters. They acted in a manner I never expected them. Kit and Cressy would be laughing at times when I thought they would be grim. Lady Denville would remain silly and frivilous with never a hint of true repentance or shame. Come to think of it, no one in the novel changes from who they were when they were introduced , except perhaps for Bonamy Riddle, whose side plot very conveniently tied up loose strings. Enjoyable but odd book.
dianaleez on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Delightful characters but almost no action in the first fourth. Too much exposition but Heyer's usual quirky characters. Plot requires great suspension of disbelief, but who reads romances looking for realism?
whitreidtan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have been reading romances since I was 10 or 12 years old. I fell in love with Jane Austen the first time I opened the pages of Pride and Prejudice. And yet, it wasn¿t until recently that I opened, read, and enjoyed my first Georgette Heyer novel, despite the fact that Heyer is widely considered a worthy successor to Austen. But after my first Heyer, I was glad to know I hadn¿t yet read much of her works because it meant that I still had that much enjoyment ahead of me. False Colours is the third work I¿ve read and although it didn¿t entertain me as much as my previous two novels did, it still had the authenticity, attention to detail, and that indefinable something that characterizes Heyer¿s works.Borrowing a successful plot contrivance from great writers before her, False Colours has a masquerade or false identity plot. Kit and Evelyn are twins and as close to physically identical as can be. So when Evelyn is missing on the very eve of a party to introduce him to the family of the woman he hopes to marry, Kit reluctantly gives in to his flighty and charmingly capricious mother¿s insistence that he impersonate his elder brother, the Earl of Denville. After all, the masquerade is only to last one evening and only for the purpose of convincing Cressy¿s intimidating and opinionated grandmother to give her blessing to their marriage. But Evelyn doesn¿t return the following day and despite Kit¿s best efforts to remain out of Cressy and her grandmother¿s way so that they don¿t discover the hoax pulled over on them, his mother agrees to host them at a small house party on Evelyn¿s country estate. Kit and Cressy are thrown together with great regularity and start building a happy rapport. Yet Kit cannot tell her his real identity and so things bumble along in an almost Shakespearean comedy sort of way towards the denouement.While the depiction of the times and social mores is as perfect as ever, the language, even for a reader familiar with much Regency-set fiction, is rife with unfamiliar slang and coloquiallisms. This might not be as large a problem as it is except that the bulk of the book is dialogue between Kit and Lady Denville, robbing the reader of many context clues. Lady Denville, Kit¿s mother, as a character, is absurd and cheerily profligate, even in the face of ruin. She is depicted as a doting mother and yet she is unconcerned that her debts, the ones she is doing her utmost to ignore or forget, are going to force her eldest son into a loveless marriage of convenience so that he can end the trust in which his fortune is held. And she is unbothered by the tenuous, rather dicey situation in which she¿s placed Kit, the potential heartbreak which it will cause both Kit and Cressy. It¿s an inconsistency of character that Heyer doesn¿t generally make. The plot is rather more drawn out than it needs to be and it is lacking in the tension that would keep the reader eagerly turning the pages given that both Kit and Lady Denville are spectacularly unconcerned by Evelyn¿s prolonged and continued absence. There are moments of humor here but the weakness of the story otherwise overshadows them. This is not a bad book, it just isn¿t everything Heyer is capable of and readers unfamiliar with her oeuvre might want to start elsewhere, perhaps with the enchanting caper that is The Grand Sophy (my own personal favorite so far).
cmbohn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Let me start by being honest - now matter how cheesy, how fantastic, how predictable, I love Georgette Heyer. She just makes me happy. I love that the characters are so much fun, that they are all smart or beautiful or witty or rich or all of these things and more, that everything works out at the end, that there are funny spots, I just love it all.For the plot though -Kit and Evelyn are twins. Kit arrives home from his service with the Diplomatic Corps in Vienna to find that Evelyn has disappeared, on the night before he was going to meet his fiancee's family. Kit's mother, who is a beautiful featherhead, convinces him to impersonate the missing twin. Against his better judgment, Kit agrees. And so all the trouble ensues. Kit falls in love with Evelyn's fiancee, he and his mother go to an amazing amount of trouble to keep up with the deception, but naturally, it all comes out. Everything wraps up neatly at the end.Cressida is not my favorite Heyer heroine, but then, she is not the main character. Kit is, and I like him. Lady Denville and her large, good-humored suitor Sir Bonamy are also a lot of fun. It made me smile and it *almost* made me forget my back pain. Just what I needed.
exlibrisbitsy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Christopher ¿Kit¿ Fancot knows that something has gone wrong. He and his twin brother Evelyn have always known when the other was in trouble, wounded or worse and Kit has a very strong feeling that something has happened to Evelyn. His mother is in a huge amount of debt and his twin brother Evelyn has gone missing. Evelyn needs to be able to meet with his fiance Cressida Stavely¿s family or risk having an elderly matron frown on the marriage of convenience (he wants to wind up his Trust, she wants to be free of her father and his new wife) and call the whole thing off. If Kit¿s twin doesn¿t marry, the family fortune won¿t be made available to him, and their mother¿s fantastic debts will lead to trouble for all involved.That¿s when his mother hits upon an idea he wishes she hadn¿t. No one knows Kit is in town, so Kit can pose as Evelyn! For just one evening, she promises. In true Georgette Heyer style the crazy idea spawns yet more crazy and untenable circumstances that have Kit living in Evelyn¿s shoes for far longer than he wishes to and results in him feeling more for his twin bother¿s fiance than he really should.I loved reading about this tangle of a situation that was created by Evelyn's disappearance. The trouble Kit has assuming his new brother's role in life puts all of his combined acting talent and diplomacy to the ultimate test. Plus there was always the threat of discovery.The true representation of the period, the way that the characters thought, spoke and acted within the confines of their social standing and situations was delightful to read, and I love how the characters were drawn and portrayed throughout. Kit's mother was hilarious to read about as she thoughtlessly blew through her money, and Kit often had a sense of humor that made his uncomfortable situation at times very amusing.Heyer's droll humor and her appreciation for the ridiculous truly come to play in this novel and if you are looking for a fun read true to the regency period than this novel will have you laughing your socks off.Favorite Quote:"You absurd boy! Oh, Evelyn, I'm so thankful you've come, but what in the world has detained you? I've been sick with apprehension!"There was a quizzical gleam in the gentleman's eyes, but he said in accents of deep reproach: "Come, come, Mama - !""It may be very well for you to say Come, come, Mama," she retorted, "but when you faithfully promised to return not a day later than -" She broke off, staring down at him in sudden doubt.Abandoning the portmanteau, the gentleman shrugged the greatcoat from his shoulder, pulled off his hat, and mounted the remaining stairs two at a time, saying still more reproachfully: "No, really, Mama! How can you be so unnatural a parent?""Kit!" uttered his unnatural parent, in a smothered shriek. "Oh, my darling, my dearest son!"
riverwillow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A delight. Kit Fancot rushes home from Switzerland because he's worried that something bad has happened to his twin brother, Evelyn, Earl of Denville, to find the Evelyn has been missing for more than a week. Kit's frivolous and spendthrift mother convinces him to masquerade as Evelyn at an important dinner which will help him seal his engagement. Of course one dinner quickly stretches into days and weeks as Kit, sometimes hilariously, pretends to be his brother, uncovers the depths of his mother's debts and, of course, falls in love. The book starts off slowly as Heyer sets the scene, is quite formulaic, and doesn't hit the high notes of some of her other books, but is still a good read.
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Georgette Heyer is one of the best writers of the 20th century. This one is lots of fun. She embroils the hero in a mess and extricates him and his twin with finesse and style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
False Colors is one of Georgette Heyer's best. Characters who are fun to know. Straightening everyone's various problems that become very entangled as the story moves along. Being a twin brings an extra set of problems along with financial difficulties and lovers and elderly crochets. All lighthearted and delightful.
necrodog More than 1 year ago
Ms Heyer's strengths are her understanding of the time period and her ability to create believable and likeable characters. her work is dated by the sensibilities and prejudices of her time as well as that of the books' setting, but the stories are entertaining and well-written.
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