Author Spotlight: Barbara Cartland

bio-sketchOne of the world’s most prolific writers, Barbara Cartland is listed in the Guinness World Record for writing 723 novels and leaving 160 unpublished manuscripts upon her death in 2000.  She survived two World Wars and was awarded the Bishop Wright Air Industry Award at Kennedy Airport USA for her help in devising and creating the first aeroplane-towed glider.  Barbara gathered thousands of white wedding dresses available for rent by women getting married to service men during WWII so they could have a wedding dress to wear to the ceremony.  Barbara was made a Dame of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours List by Her Majesty the Queen, for her contribution to literature and for her work for the Community.

Most famous for her romance novels, Barbara also created cookbooks and wrote several biographies.  Born in 1901, Brabara was raised in England and published her first book in 1923.   She is considered the “Queen of Romance” for her contributions to the romance genre. Barbara Cartland’s books have been made into several movies including The Lady and the Highwayman starring Hugh Grant (which I own and laugh through even if it is slightly cheesy).

article-1022081-03AC33CE0000044D-697_468x613I think I read my first Barbara Cartland book when I was about thirteen.  My mother would read them first (to make sure it was clean enough for me to read) and then she would give them to me.  It wasn’t long before I was reading them faster than she was (I know, having five children and working full time doesn’t excuse her from not reading fast enough).  Mom and I both realized that all her books were safe for me to read and I would estimate that I have read at least a hundred of her books.  Most of them take place in Victorian England and involve a beautiful naive girl and a jaded rake.  I love them all!

In my collection of books (which is vast) I have one bin of books just for her because I have so many. (Someday I will have a real library but for now an organized Rubbermaid storage bin is the closest I come.)  Rereading one of her books is like coming home.  I spent long hours in the living room of my parent’s chaotic house curled up in the sun reading (or hanging upside down on the couch, I can’t figure out now why I loved to read upside down so much).  Anyone who asked my mother what she would recommend to read was handed a Barbara Cartland.

Barbara Cartland’s daughter is in the process of getting her unpublished manuscripts finished and published, they can be purchased through the link below at BarbaraCartland.com.  I highly recommend her books and they can be found at any used book store that carries romance novels (see my previous post regarding my experience with used books stores). I hope you pick one up and let me know what you think.

BarbaraCartland.com

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Author Spotlight: Georgette Heyer

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Ask any romance author or reader who their favorite author is and Georgette Heyer’s name will be mentioned.  Credited with inventing the Regency England genre of  novels, Heyer is still being published today.  I have to admit I own all of her romance books and most of her mysteries.  Georgette Heyer (August 16, 1902-July 4 1974) wrote her first novel, The Black Moth, at the age of 21 as a story for her brother.

Heyer was a very private person and spent most of her life refusing interviews.  Most of  Heyer’s novels take place during the same time period as Jane Austen’s but Jane Austen was writing contemporary fiction and Heyer was writing historical novels.   Heyer was incredibly prolific and wrote numerous historical and mystery novels.

Heyer also wrote several novels about famous historical figures including An Infamous Army about Duke Wellington and The Conqueror about William the Conqueror.  Heyer carefully researched and collected facts about the time periods she wrote about, even claiming that she only wrote what Duke Wellington wrote or said.

While I have yet to read a Heyer novel that I don’t love my two favorite are Sylvestor, or the Wicked Uncle and The Grand Sophy.  There are numerous websites and discussion groups out there but I have listed a few here:

www.georgette-heyer.com and www.georgetteheyernovels.com

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

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Upon first hearing of this book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, I figured it would either be an absolute riot or the worst book ever written.  I was correct, this book is a riot!  I giggled through the whole thing.  I am a huge Pride and Prejudice fan. I have lost count of the number of times I have read the book and I own three different versions of the movie.  Starting the book, I was expecting an exact replica of the original story with zombies added but, was surprised with the first conversation that the author updated the language.  I have to admit this threw me for a minute and I had to stop and think about if I really wanted to finish the book.  (I know I shouldn’t start a book with preconceived notions but when it comes to this book, I didn’t even realize I had done it until I started the book.) I pressed on and immediately started giggling.  The author went far beyond just the potty-humor I was expecting.  The characters refer to the zombies as “unmentionables”, showing the author’s keen grasp of English Society during this time.

I will admit there was a moment where I felt like it was Pride and Prejudice meets Indiana Jones but, that scene aside,the warrior Elizabeth was fantastic, adding another layer of strength to this already complex character.

The author followed the themes and plot of the original story but he did diverge from the original in the consequences of the protagonists, such as Wickham and Liddia.  I admit, I loved the consequences.  I think it is the bloodthirsty streak in me but it seemed much more fitting than the original’s just sending them off to the North country.

I give this book a rating of three, based on the gore and nothing else.[amazon-product]1594743347[/amazon-product]

A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland

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I thought I would start with one of my favorite books A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland.  I usually don’t enjoy time travel books because I have a hard time believing they are real. (Yes, I know, I read romance novels but I struggle nonetheless.) One thing I really like about Kurland’s books is the fact that she doesn’t glamorize the time period. Modern Elizabeth finds herself transported back to medieval Scotland. Elizabeth is immediately put into a dungeon pit full of bugs and a woman is burned as a witch at one point in time because she displeased her laird.

Kurland’s wonderful description of the time period allows one to see what it must have been like, the good and the bad.  This book is the first in series that is great and clean (except for Stardust of Yesterday and This is All I Ask is fairly descriptive of physical abuse main character experiences).  Elizabeth is also almost raped in one scene and they describe lifting her skirt but nothing beyond that. There is some brief nudity (James sleeps in the nude) but it is done more in the keeping of the time period than anything else. There are some references to the couple having sex but no description of the act itself and they only have it after they are married.

I highly recommend all of Kurland’s books and eagerly await her next book.