Feb 242015
 

Silhouettes of a man and woman in Regency dress against a background of the number 80

Many of you may not recognize the title of this novel as that of one written by Georgette Heyer. The Transformation of Philip Jettan was indeed written by Heyer, though initially published under a pseudonym. When the novel was re-released a few years later, under Heyer’s own name, her new publisher changed the title to Powder and Patch. But that was not all that was changed when the book was republished. Something else went missing. It is very fitting that Susan McDuffie, a writer of historical mysteries, and a talented sleuth, has tracked down the missing bit and provided visitors here with the means by which to view it.

As always, visitors are welcome to share their views about this book in comments to this article.


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A couple in 18th century dress, the man holding a ladder for a woman who is picking fruit from a tree,

The Transformation of Philip Jettan, or The Delightful Surprise of Powder and Patch


Georgette Heyer wrote her third published novel, The Transformation of Philip Jettan, in three weeks. Mills and Boon published the book under the pseudonym of Stella Martin. When Heinemann re-released the book in 1930, under Heyer’s own name as Powder and Patch, the original final chapter was deleted.

A confession of sorts. When the Beau Monde first broached the idea of a series of writings celebrating Heyer’s writings and her Regencies, in honor of the 80th anniversary of Regency Buck’s publication, I eagerly choose Powder and Patch. I could clearly see the cover of my old paperback in my mind, although I had not read it for years, and I distinctly remembered thinking at that time what a fine film it would make. After volunteering for Powder and Patch I happily ran to my "keeper bookshelf," where my collection of Heyer’s books sit stored for dreary days, and pulled out the book. The cover of that book, however read The Masqueraders! Slightly chagrined, I rummaged a bit more in the bookcase and found Powder and Patch. I don’t believe I’d ever read it before—one of those rainy day ‘safety books’ I imagine many of us have on our shelves. So I have now had the immense pleasure of acquainting myself with Philip, Cleone, Tom, Maurice and Sally Malmerstoke for the first time.

Written twelve years before the 1935 publication of Regency Buck, Powder and Patch hints at the delightful tone of Heyer’s later Regencies. At age twenty-one she already wrote a delightful comedy of manners, a charming farce with clever dialogue and a host of well-drawn characters, both primary and secondary, who entertain and amuse.

Cleone Charteris rejects her country love Philip Jettan with the cruel words "I do not want a-a-raw-country-bumpkin." Philip, stung, leaves Sussex and his home with his father, Sir Maurice, grimly intent on obeying her wishes and become more the type of "prancing ninny" he thinks she admires. This feat he miraculously accomplishes in only six months in Paris. We are talking fiction, after all. Heyer herself said of a later book, "I think myself I ought to be shot for writing such nonsense. … But it’s unquestionably good escapist literature and I think I should rather like it if I were sitting in an air-raid shelter or recovering from flu."

At any rate in Paris Philip acquires a bit of polish—and a sad tendency to write poetry.

Into the room came, Philip, a vision in shades of yellow. He carried a rolled sheet of parchment tied with an amber ribbon. He walked with a spring, and his eyes sparkled with pure merriment. He waved the parchment roll triumphantly.

Saint-Dantin went forward to greet him.

"But of a lateness, Philippe," he cried, holding out his hands.

"A thousand pardons, Louis! I was consumed of a rondeau until an hour ago."

"A rondeau?" said De Vangrisse. "This morning it was a ballade!"

"This morning? Bah! That was a year ago. Since then it has been a sonnet!". . .

"I weep for you," said Philip. "Why do I waste my poetic gems upon you?"

Saint-Dantin took him by the elbow and led him to the door.

"Parbleu, Philippe, it’s what we wish to know. You shall expound to us at dinner."

Philip eventually returns to London, accompanied by his French valet, powdered, patched and determined to win his Cleone, who has ventured to London for the season. The romance between Philip’s uncle Tom and Cleone’s aunt Lady Malmerstoke provides a more mature foil to the youthful and romantic dilemmas faced by Philip and Cleone.

"Not that I don’t sympathize with the child," continued her ladyship inexorably. "Of course she is a fool, but so are all girls. A woman of my age don’t inquire too closely into a man’s past—we’ve learned wisdom. Cleone knows that you have trifled with a dozen other women. Bless you, she don’t think the worse of you for that!"

"She does! She said—"

"For goodness’ sake, don’t try to tell me what she said, Philip! What’s that to do with it?"

"But you don’t understand! Cleone said—"

"So she may have. That does not mean that she meant it, does it?" asked her ladyship in great scorn.

"Mais—"

"Don’t start talking French at me, child, for I can’t bear it! You should know by now that no woman means what she says when it’s to a man."

It is curious that when the book was reprinted in 1930 Heyer omitted the final chapter. "Madame de Chauceron Brings Down the Curtain." Well worth a read, this brings a frothy and different denouement to the book, one that satisfies the reader in a slightly different way than the published conclusion of Powder and Patch.

I found it easily online at http://www.shelaghlewins.com/other_stuff/cleone.php

In her biography of Georgette Heyer, Jane Aiken Hodge wrote of the alteration "In the first version, he wins her and takes her to Paris, to become exquisites together. In the second they will retire to Sussex and become a country gentleman and his wife, very much like the Rougiers." During the seven years between the first edition and second edition of the book, Georgette Heyer married Ronald Rougier and quite possibly that changed ending reflects her own changed view of life. By 1930 she had spent time living with her husband in Macedonia, where she nearly died during a dental procedure, and in a grass hut in Tanganyika. Perhaps homey Sussex looked better to Georgette Heyer by 1930 than exotic Paris. But whichever ending you prefer, I hope you will enjoy, as I so thoroughly did, the chance to revisit this wonderfully fun read, or to discover it for the first time.

Susan McDuffie writes historical mysteries set in medieval Scotland and has written Regency short stories.

Find out more at:

www.SusanMcDuffie.net

https://www.facebook.com/SusanMcDuffieAuthor

  16 Responses to “Regency Turns 80 — The Transformation of Philip Jettan

  1. Serendipitously I found that first last chapter (if you see what I mean) only yesterday. Definitely a precursor of These Old Shades. I think I prefer it. It emphasises that Philip’s heart was steadfast even while he was learning to be a fribble.

    • Yes, Philip was always steadfast–despite “The Pearl that Trembles in her Ear” and Cleone’s misconceptions. I will have to revisit THESE OLD SHADES. I am certainly enjoying the chance to renew my acquaintance with many of Heyer’s novels this year!

  2. Oh, I had forgotten all about this one. I had absolutely no idea there were two endings. Clearly I am not as up on Georgette as I thought :). Mind you it is the reading part I like. Thank you for the insights. I love the way he transforms himself into something she thought she wanted only to discover the opposite.

    • And manages the transformation in only six months! A certain suspension of disbelief is required, but it in no way tarnishes the appeal of the book. Perhaps this could spark some new kind of reality TV makeover show–one I might actually enjoy watching! 🙂

  3. Oh, wow. How lovely to read the other ending — it brought tears to my eyes (although at the same time I couldn’t help but think of the oppressed poor and hope they or their children left Paris long before the revolution. I don’t recall in which year the book took place, but quite a bit earlier, I think). I’ve always loved Powder and Patch, including all the poetry! Thanks so much for posting this.

    • Thank you, Barbara, it was such a pleasure to read the book and explore it a little bit. One of the things I love most about fiction is worrying about the later fates of favorite characters. Hopefully Philip and Cleone leave Paris long before the Bastille falls. I’ve had a similar reaction to Frank Tallis’s mysteries set in Vienna with Max Lieberman–will Max and his family manage to escape before WWII begins? (Not Regencies, but wonderful books despite that!) As I think he’s stopped writing the series, we may never know!

  4. I just finished Powder and Patch and was satisfied with the ending, but after reading your post I immediately followed the link and read the “real” final chapter. I liked it so much more, especially knowing the difficulties ahead for those living in Paris. Thank you for that little extra/ Maybe we should also credit Heyer with an early form of the “choose your own adventure” story!

    • It is very interesting that Georgette Heyer made that change when the book was republished as POWDER AND PATCH. The research I did for the article divulged that she followed her husband to several remote posts, and after she nearly died during that dental procedure she insisted they return home to England before starting a family. So I imagine the change may possibly have reflected her own contentment with her return home. It is great fun to read both endings, though, and adds richness to the book. I imagine Cleone enjoyed life in Paris!

  5. I’ve never read that first last chapter! Thanks so much for the link, Susan.

    The thing I’ve always loved about “Powder and Patch” (and all Heyer’s Georgians) is just how very Georgian they are! I’m a big fan of 18th-century comic plays by Sheridan et al, as well as Restoration comedy (and Moliere, too), and I really feel that spirit in Heyer’s Georgians. Plus, they all have a very different idea of what “manly” means that we do nowadays, which is great fun (and fascinating, to boot.)

    • An excellent point, Cara. Especially in her Georgians, I think Heyer shows us that clothes very definitely do not make the man. Philip Jettan is just one of several Georgian heroes who wear lace, silk, powdered wigs and red-heeled shoes, and yet, Heyer makes it clear that every one of them is all man before the story is over. I really enjoy that dichotomy as the stories unfold.

      BTW – I love Sheridan’s plays, especially School for Scandal. I also enjoy She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith, from the same era. I was lucky enough to see it on stage many years ago, and it was a delight. I keep hoping some film-maker will make a movie of one or more of them. Maybe one day.

      Regards,

      Kat

      • Kathryn, there was a gorgeous production of “She Stoops to Conquer” done at the National and broadcast to certain cinemas through their “National Theatre Live” program a year or two back…they never seem to release those on DVD, but I dearly wish they would! Then I would highly recommend it to you…

        I am a major Sheridan fan. I’ve directed a staged reading of “The Critic,” and also held informal readings of “The Rivals” and “The School for Scandal.” And I’ve seen the latter two, plus “Stoops,” in productions over the years! Lucky me…

        • Really lucky you!!! I envy you getting to see those wonderful performances. Thanks for the recommendations. I will see if I can find any of them on DVD. Sometimes, things like that are available through specialty sellers in limited runs. I might get lucky!

          =^..^=

          • Well, I’ve checked the shop on the National Theatre website, and they don’t have She Stoops (or most of their theatre-in-cinema offerings) on DVD, so I suspect not, sadly. But fingers crossed that one day they’ll do it! (The Globe’s theatre-in-cinema offerings do go to DVD, so hopefully the National will start, too.)

    • Thank you, Cara. I’ve enjoyed Heyer’s Georgians also, as much as I’ve enjoyed her later Regencies. They certainly catch the flavor of the times. It’s fascinating to explore how customs, society, and fashion change over the years. I have heard that in the costuming for the new BBC TV version of Wolf Hall the codpieces were made smaller than they would have been in Tudor times, for fear of offending some of the viewers.

      Who hasn’t wished once in a while that her significant other would just dress a little better, or stop telling that same old boring joke for the thousandth time! Perhaps another message of the book is “Don’t wish for something–you might get it!” Although Cleone does not seem unhappy in the end. Nor does Philip, happily for all of us!

  6. Amazing. I never knew there was an alternate ending but I loved reading it. I think I prefer this ending. Thankyou so much.

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