Archive for the ‘Romantic novels’ Category
I’m not sure that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but it surely is a tried and tested route into a woman’s. As every discerning reader knows.
My good friend and fabulous RITA and RUBY winning author, Marion Lennox, is blogging for the first time, and musing on food and royals in romantic fiction at www.iheartpresents.com She says: ‘You know, writing’s wonderful– I can just close my eyes and think what would I most like to eat, and there it is, on the page. So my would-be princess can indulge in French champagne and lobster patties and truffles and caviar and strawberries tasting of the sun….’
So true. And your readers can indulge right along with her.
I always remember the first Mary Stewart I read, Madam, Will You Talk.
For two days the heroine runs away from a dangerous man who she thinks is a villian. And then, suddenly, he is beside her on the quay in Marseilles and there is nowhere left to run . . .
So what does he do?
He takes her to dinner. (That’s my kind of dangerous man.)
And what a dinner.
I remember still those exquisite fluted silver dishes, each with its load of dainty colours . . . there were anchovies and tiny gleaming silver fish in red sauce, and savoury butter in curled strips of fresh lettuce; there were caviare and tomato and olives green and black, and small golden pink mushrooms and cresses and beans. The waiter heaped my plate, and filled another glass with white wine. I drank half a glassful without a word, and began to eat. I was conscious of Richard Byron’s eyes on me, but he did not speak.
The waiters hovered beside us, the courses came, delicious and appetizing, and the empty plates vanished as if by magic. I remember red mullet, done somehow with lemons, and a succulent golden-brown fowl bursting with truffles and flanked by tiny peas, then a froth of ice and whipped cream dashed with kirsch, and the fine smooth caress of the wine through it all. Then, finally, apricots and big black grapes, and coffee.
Ah, apricocks and dewberries. They never fail.
But truly, isn’t that the most luscious, sensual scene? Aren’t you there, mouth watering? Haven’t you already decided that the provider of this voluptuous feast has to be the hero?
How much more powerful must it have been in 1955, when the book was first published. Many foods were still rationed in Britain. It was only ten years since the end of the War, with its austerity and British Restaurants. For the 1950s English woman, this idyllic meal (to say nothing of the plates that disappear as if by magic) must have felt as good as going to Cinderella’s ball herself.
And it still does the business today – for me and, I bet, for thousands of others. Which is why Hodder printed a new edition fifty years after that first publication.
Oh, I love Freddy in Cotillion. He’s so kind. I don’t think many of Georgette Heyer’s heroes are. He’s not just kind to Kitty,either; he’s pretty good to his sisters and I love his relationship with his parents.
But I’m not sure I’d call Freddy a Frivol, exactly. He’s not mischievous. Though I agree with Liz, Jan, Evonne and Jane, there are a lot of other similarities. And he’s certainly a charmer, not least because he doesn’t know it himself.
There are hints of Heyer’s other daffy young men in Freddy, of course. Think of Viscount Dashwood in The Convenient Marriage or the whole crew out of Friday’s Child. (Sherry and his friends always reminded me of William Brown’s Outlaws, actually. But then I was quite young when I read Frdiay’s Child). But I’m sure Jane is right, Freddy is unique as a romantic lead.
Cotillion must have been a real challenge to write. It has got an Alpha hero in Jack. Only, for once, we see the Alpha as he really is: wilful, impatient, arrogant, as well as sex on a stick. And he gets his come uppance. Ultimately he doesn’t deserve Kitty – and she sees it before he does!
Cotillion may not be High Romance but it is amazingly touching – especially when you realise that Freddy has known all along what Kitty was up to and has fallen in love with her anyway. And then, when he asks her to marry him but doesn’t expect her to say yes because he isn’t romantic, there is a whiff of real pain.
Actually, I think Georgette Heyer undersold herself when she said all her heroes were either Mark I or Mark II. My favourites are all pretty unique. I adore Sylvester, who is very high in the instep, occasionally arrogant, but kind, too, if he chooses to be. Much more complicated than an unadulterated Alpha. Of course, wicked, wonderful Damerel is pretty Alpha but I forgive him. And then there’s glorious Hugo in The Unknown Ajax who winds up his estranged family by talking like his groom and pretending he went to a scrubby Dame School instead of Harrow.
Now I come to think of it, Hugo just might be a Frivol after all. I thought Georgette Heyer didn’t get the full enchantment of the Frivol, but I may have done her unjust. I can just see Hugo getting the giggles.
Liz, Jan, Evonne, Jane, you are geniuses.
Loving them as I do, I would love to write a romantic hero frivol. (See previous post.) But can it be done? Even the Incomparable Georgette Heyer did not quite bring it off.
Lord Rupert Alastair – ‘Solitude’s the thing. Solitude and a fat ham’ – is undoubtedly a wondrous Frivol. But he is also a resolute bachelor.
Lovely Sherry in Friday’s Child has a touch of the Frivol but marriage sobers him – along with making him a warmer and more wonderful human being, of course, and capable of slugging slimy Sir Montagu.
I love that book – but I’m not sure romance quite takes with Frivols.