Well done to everyone who rose to the puce challenge. I thought it was time to put you all out of your puce induced misery!
For each of the following, I asked if you could identify the book and, where applicable, say who X is. The answers are below each extract.
1. … Lady X 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.
Lady Broome, Cousin Kate
2. “Raise you a hundred, gentlemen,” X said, and lay back in his chair, feeling in his capacious pocket 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.
Lord Vidal, Devil’s Cub
3. Miss X, 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.
Isabella Milbourne, Friday’s Child
4. 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, X came to the conclusion that Charis’ instinct had not betrayed her.
Frederica Merrivile, Frederica
5. “But De Chambert wears puce small-clothes,” objected X. “Does he? Mordieu, I’d like to see that!…”
Philip Jettan, Powder and Patch
6. “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 Earl of Rule, The Convenient Marriage
7. “On no account!” said X 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?”
Sophy Stanton-Lacy, The Grand Sophy
8. 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.
The Masqueraders (a description of ‘the old gentleman’)
9. 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 X known to her.
Sir Waldo Hawkridge, The Nonesuch
10. 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. X paused half-way down the stairs and unfurled her fan.
Leonie de Bonnard (de Saint-Vire), These Old Shades
11. This speech might have been designed to put X 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.
Jenny Chawleigh, A Civil Contract
12. Miss X … 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.
Miss Fishguard, Cotillion
13.The boxes began to fill up, and presently, in the one beside X’s, she 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.
Mr Ravenscar, Faro’s Daughter
14. “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 – ”
Powder and Patch
15. “The doctor is a worthy individual, Jim, but he knows even less of the art of dressing than you do. He does not understand the soul-agony of a man who makes his first appearance in puce.”
The Black Moth (Jack Carstares talking to his groom/valet)
16.“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!”
The Convenient Marriage (Mr Crosby Drelincourt)
17. Lady X 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?”
Lady Fanny Marling, These Old Shades
18. The Earl had 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 X’s side, and bent to kiss her hand. ‘None other, my dear. Am I -now don’t spare me- am I perhaps de trop?’
Horatia, Countess of Rule, The Convenient Marriage
19. She turned around to look at him. ‘Puce…’tis not the colour I should have chosen, but ’tis well enough.”
The Black Moth (Lady Lavinia Carstares talking to her husband, Richard)
20. “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 X, though not, she trusted, in puce.”
Lady Serena Carlow, Bath Tangle
21. “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!”
April Lady (Letty, talking to Nell about her cousin Felix)
22. Nothing, thought X, 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.
An Infamous Army, Judith (Countess of Worth)
23. … the ladies fell into enthusiastic discussion of current fashions, Miss X 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.
Kitty Charing, Cotillion
24. X 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.
Philip Jettan, Powder and Patch
25. Encountering at first one or two stares from young bucks, X 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.
Horatia (Countess of Rule), The Convenient Marriage
26. 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.
An Infamous Army
27. “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.”
These Old Shades (Lady Fanny Marling talking to her husband, Edward)
28. 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.
An Infamous Army
29. “I have conceived a dislike–nay, a veritable hatred–for puce. I will wear blue.”
The Black Moth (Jack Carstares)
Your puce score
20+ Well done, you took the shine out of everyone else!
15-20 Not bad, you came within an ames-ace!
5-15 Not a mean bit, yet!
Below 5 Sorry, but you’ve made a bit of a mull of it!
Thank you all for taking part and making puce into a popular pastime!