The Black Moth was published in 1921 when Heyer was just 19 years old.
She had written the story to amuse her convalescing brother, Boris, and was encouraged by her father to have it published. Imagine, she wrote this when she was 17 years old!
The Black Moth tells the story of Diana Beauleigh, a country-bred lady who, as the book jacket says, "inflamed the passion of a great Duke." Before the Duke of Sale can manage to abduct the lady, an unknown masked man rescues her and is, of course, injured in the process. And of course, who gets to nurse the man back to health and fall in love with him before finding out he is not a highwayman? Diana, of course.
Heyer did not write sequels, but characters in this book are revisited in THESE OLD SHADES and DEVIL'S CUB.
I have a copy of this Georgian novel in paperback and a good-quality hard cover with a dust-jacket, published in 1968.
THE BLACK MOTH is special simply because it was Heyer's first book. It is good, without being great. It is not in my top 10 of Heyer's books, but it definitely showed what Heyer was going to be able to accomplish as she got older. I can't imagine writing anything nearly so good at the age of 17, much less a period piece in which knowledge of Georgian England would be necessary.
I do recommend reading it, because there is nothing wrong with it. It is a good, enjoyable read, and it does introduce characters that are brought to life in different forms in two other novels. Besides, as I said, it is her first book! That alone is reason to read it.
Written in 1919, Published in 1921
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