The Puce Page!!

In our readings of her novels, we have found that Heyer did not seem to like the colour PUCE -- which has its derivations from the Latin word for flea...the colour supposedly being that of either the flea itself or its blood when squashed (thanks for this description Nancy!).

To which end it has become a sort of challenge to find the reference to puce in each book - hence this page. Although, there are a few books where the reference to puce is more favourable (Friday's Child), most are references on nasty characters (Faro's Daughter) or those with an acknowledged total lack of taste or colour coordination (Cotillion) or those unsure of how to go on in 'ton' society (A Civil Contract).

At the moment there are a lot of blank spaces. If you can help, then please contribute to this page.

Title  Reference  Cover Art
A Civil Contract Charlotte, who was not bookish, paid no heed to this, but exclaimed breathlessly: "Oh, my dear Adam, we though you could not be here for another hour, and had put dinner back accordingly! And here I am, only this instant finished cutting a few flowers for Jenny's room, and in this old gown too! You must excuse me, Jenny!" This speech might have been designed to put Jenny at her ease, but she still felt, as she descended from the chaise, that perhaps a puce silk dress, a velvet pelisse, and a feathered bonnet were a little out of place at Fontley. Charlotte, however, seemed to see nothing amiss, but kissed her, and led her into the house.
An Infamous Army "Nothing, thought Judith, could have been more opportune! Lucy was by far too unaffected to have purposely placed herself beside a plain young female in a dress of a particularly harsh puce, but the effect could not have been more advantageous."


"Out came the cambrics and the muslins: lilac, Pomona green and pale puce, made into wispy round dresses figured with rosebuds, with row upon row of frills round the ankles."


"The puces swore faintly at the scarlet uniforms; the celestial blues and pale greens died; but the white satin turned all the gold-encrusted magnificence into a background to set it off."

April Lady (Letty to Nell) "If he thinks my ribbons insipid I am astonished that he hadn't the effrontery to say that your dress was commonplace! Depend upon it, he thinks you would look more becomingly in purple, or puce, or scarlet! Odious creature!"
(Nell responds) " Oh, he couldn't say that to me, when he told me weeks ago never to wear those strong colours!"
Cover Picture
Bath Tangle "Any pleasure Lady Theresa might have derived from the ball had been destroyed by the sight of Cordelia Monksleigh, in a hideous puce gown, standing at the head of the great stairway to receive the guests. She had been unable to banish the reflection that there, but for her own folly, might have stood Serena, though not, she trusted, in puce."
Cotillion Miss Fishguard was "an elderly lady whose grey locks had been crimped into ringlets which dangled on either side of an amiable countenance. The absence of a cap proclaimed her spinsterhood; she wore a high-gown of an unbecoming shade of puce; and carried a reticule in one bony hand."

...and later...

"..the ladies fell into enthusiastic discussion of current fashions, Miss Charing showing Lady Buckhaven the picture of a ravishing Chinese robe of lilac silk which she had discovered in one of the numbers of "La Belle Assemblee", and Lady Buckhaven arguing that a light puce would be more becoming to her new friend."

Cousin Kate She could not help feeling that this was a tactless thing to have said; but before she could speak Sir Timothy, with her aunt leaning on his arm, had come into the room, and Lady Broome had exclaimed: "Oh, you are before me! Torquil, my son!" She moved forward, in a cloud of puce satin and gauze, holding out her hands to him. Cover Picture
Devil's Cub He was annoyed, and showed it. "I believe you've not heard one word!" he said. 
"I was thinking," said Mary thoughtfully, "that puce does not become you, Joshua."
"Puce?" stammered Mr Simpkins. "Become me? What -- Why --?"
"It is maybe your complexion that's too high for it," mused Miss Challoner.
Mr Simpkins said with dignity: "I was speaking of Sophia, Mary."
"I'm sure she would agree with me," replied the lady maddeningly.
"She's too easy, cousin. She don't know the path she treads," Joshua said, trying to bring the conversations back to its original topic. "She's very different from you, you know."
A slow smile curled Miss Challoner's lips. "I do, of course, but it's hardly kind in you to tell me so," she said.
"In my eyes," declared Joshua, "you are the prettier."
Miss Challoner seemed to consider this. "Yes?" she said interestedly. "But then, you chose puce." She shook her head, and it was apparent she set no store by the compliment.

"Raise you a hundred, gentlemen," Vidal said, and lay back in his chair, feeling in his capacious packet for his snuff-box. He pulled it out, and opened it, and took a pinch, flashing a quick look around the table. A gentleman in puce satin, and a very large stock buckle, protested that fifty was deep enough.

False Colours    
Faro's Daughter "What, are you at that again? I still have them, and they will still beat any of the cattle you own." 
"I don't think so," said Sir James, taking snuff with an elegant turn of his wrist.
"I wouldn't bet against them," said a man in a puce coat, and a tie-wig. "I'd buy them, if you'd sell, Ravenscar."

The boxes began to fill up, and presently, in the one beside Ravenscar's, she (Deb) observed Sir James Filey, gorgeous in a coat of puce brocade, and leaning over a chair in which a scared-looking child with pale golden ringlets and forget-me-not blue eyes sat bolt upright, clutching a fan between her mittened hands.

Cover Picture
Friday's Child "She could not but be touched by Wrotham's having taken such pains to obtain for her flowers which he believed to be her favorites.....[but] There was another consideration--and not the least of them---that led to George's violets being rejected. Miss Milborne, whose striking beauty could well support the trying colour, was wearing a new gown of pale puce satin and net to the ball, and with this George's violets could not be said to agree." Cover Picture
Frederica "Critically surveying the sketch and mentally eradicating from it such additions to the ensemble as a purple-puce shawl, a tiara and a black lace head-veil, Frederica came to the conclusion that Charis' instinct had not betrayed her." Cover Picture
Cover Picture
Lady of Quality    
Regency Buck    
Royal Escape    
Powder and Patch "Do you suppose De Chambert will be present?" 
"Nothing is more certain," yawned De Bergeret. (...) 
"But De Chambert wears puce small-clothes," objected Philip. 
"Does he? Mordieu, I'd like to see that!..."

"The gentleman" - Moggat laid ever so little stress on the word - "is tall, sir, and -er-slim. He is somewhat dark as regards eyes and brows, and he is dressed, if I may say so, exceedingly modishly, with a point-edged hat, and very full-skirted puce coat, laced, French fashion, with - " 

Philip went to his hostess and dropped on one knee to kiss her hand. He was dressed in puce and old gold. Jenifer thought she had never seen anything so gorgeous, or so astonishing. 

Sprig Muslin    
The Black Moth "The doctor is a worthy individual, Jim, but he knows even less of the art of dressing than you do. He does not uderstand the soul-agony of a man who makes his first appearance in puce."

[Richard is dressing for a masquerade:]
He was arrayed in puce and gold, rings slipped on his fingers, his legs coaxed into hose with marvellous clocks splashed on their sides, and a diamond buckle placed above the large black bow of his tie-wig.
She turned around to look at him. ' Puce...'tis not the colour I should have chosen, but 'tis well enough."

"I have conceived a dislike--nay, a veritable hatred--for puce. I will wear blue."

The Black Sheep    
The Convenient Marriage "Ah! Remind me, Arnold, that I am to wait on Lady Winwood at three. It is really quite important."
Mr Gisborne stared. "Yes, sir?"
"Yes, quite important. I think the new habit, the coat dos de puce - or is that a thought sombre for the errand? I believe the blue velvet will be more fitting. And the perruque á bourse? You prefer the Catogan wig, perhaps, but you are wrong, my dear boy, I am convinced you are wrong. The arrangement of curls in the front gives an impression of heaviness. I feel sure you would not wish me to be heavy." He gave one of the lace ruffles that fell over his hand a flick. "Oh, I have not told you, have I? You must know that I am contemplating matrimony, Arnold."

(Crosby Drelincourt) "A jest- the merest jest, I assure you! I had not the least intention - la, do but observe the creature in the puce satin over there!"

'Oh' said Horatia faintly. She remembered that she must show surprise and added:'G-good gracious, my l-lord, is- is it indeed you?' The Earl has changed his travelling dress for an evening toilet of puce velvet, with a flowered waistcoat and satin small clothes. He came across the room to Horatia's side, and bent to kiss her hand. 'None other, my dear. Am I -now don't spare me- am I perhaps de trop?'

Encountering at first one or two stares from young bucks, Horatia felt rather conspicuous in being quite unattended, but her alarming frown stood her in good stead, and a rakish gentleman in puce satin who had taken a step in her direction retreated hastily.

The Corinthian    
The Foundling    
The Grand Sophy "On no account!" said Sophy decidedly. She waited until Mr Wychbold's attention was claimed by a lady in puce satin, and then turned towards her companion, and said forthrightly: "Are you a very good dancer, sir?" Cover Picture
The Masqueraders [on the first appearance of Prue's and Robin's father in London]
One of these was my Lord March; the other was a slight, elderly gentleman with arresting grey eyes, a nose inclined to be aquiline, and thin smiling lips. He was magnificently attired in puce satin, with an embroidered waistcoat. His wig must surely have come straight from Paris.
Cover Picture
Cover Picture
The Nonesuch Since Mrs. Mickleby seated the Nonesuch between herself and Lady Colebatch at her extended dining-table, it was not until much later in the evening that he made the acquaintance of Mrs. Underhill. In the welter of introductions he had scarcely distinguished her amongst so many matrons: but Lord Lindeth had not been so careless. Undismayed by a gown of puce satin, lavishly adorned with lace and diamonds, and by a headdress supporting a plume of curled feathers clasped by a glittering brooch of opulent dimensions, he had seized the first opportunity that offered of approaching Mrs. Underhill, when the gentlemen joined the ladies after dinner; and it was he who made Sir Waldo known to her. Cover Picture
The Quiet Gentleman    
The Reluctant Widow    
The Spanish Bride    
The Talisman Ring    
The Toll-gate    
The Unknown Ajax    
These Old Shades Below, in the hall, gathered about the fire, the gentlemen were waiting, his Grace with orders glittering on a coat of purple satin; Lord Rupert in a pale blue, with much rich lacing, and an elegant flowered waistcoat; Marling in puce; and Davenant in maroon. Léonie paused half-way down the stairs and unfurled her fan.
"But look at me!" she said reprovingly.

Lady Fanny was complimenting Madame de Saint-Vire on her gown. "I declare that shade of blue is positively ravishing!" She said. "I searched the town for just such a tafetta not so long ago. La, there is that lady in puce again! Pray who may she be?"

"No, and I am so glad. And now go on and put on that new puce coat. 'Tis prodigious modish, and I want you to look very nice to-night."

Cover Picture

This site is designed by Dr Pigtails and Associates and somehow maintained by Sally Houghton