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Topic: The book that launched a genre.... The Flame and the Flower

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Subject: The book that launched a genre.... The Flame and the Flower
Date Posted: 5/3/2015 8:04 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2011
Posts: 9,234
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It was my very first romance book.  Anyone else fall in love with romance after reading this one book????  I read all of Woodiwiss' books the minute I got my hand on them.  Was so sad when she passed.  "The Wolf and the Dove" and "Shanna" still remain among my favorite historicals.

 

The Book That Launched a Genre

Kathleen_E._Woodiwiss.JPG

This week is the 43rd anniversary of the publication of "The Flame and the Flower" by Kathleen Woodiwiss. This book has its place among the important works of any period in that it set the pattern for unnumbered works of romantic fiction that followed it. This was the first romance novel.

 

This was her first manuscript and standard rejections came from all hardback publishers she sent it to. Then, on hearing from another author that these publishers took too high a percentage, she resolved to concentrate on finding a paperback company. Armed with the "Writer's Digest" Woodiwiss applied to paperback houses starting with A, and intending to work to Z. It didn't take that long. At Avon publishing, Nancy Coffee, a senior editor, had just cancelled a beach weekend because the weather was bad and decided to curl up at home and speed-read through unsolicited manuscripts ("the slush pile.") She remembers picking up Kathleen's submission first because it was the biggest. She scarcely slept that weekend and more than 600 pages later, on Monday morning, she recommended Avon publish it and so the historical single-title book, or "Bodice Ripper" as it became called, was born.


"Reality can be a 'real bummer' sometimes" ~ Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Date Posted: 5/3/2015 8:45 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
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I've never read a book by her.  Haven't even heard of this one.

I fell in love with romance books after snitching a couple from a yardsale box of books.  Someone else had brought them over to sell and I took and read them before putting them back in the box.  They were Harlequins.

Date Posted: 5/3/2015 9:41 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2011
Posts: 9,234
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Sarah, Kathleen Woodiwiss broke the Harlequin template which at that time, from what I was told, consisted of "nurse falls for doctor," or "teacher falls for businessman," cookie-cutter romances of a 150 pages or so by writing what was considered the first ever historical romantic novel.  I was in my teens when my good friend and neighbor gave me The Flame and the Flower to read when she was done with it and I was hooked.   Of course, now I look back on that claim and consider Jane Austen and the slightly more contemporary Georgette Heyer and think it is more a case of writing the first ever "bodice ripper" novel.  

While I loved Woodiwiss's books I look back on them now, especially TFATF and think, it was rape and a child.  The heroine's were inevitably in their mid to late teens and virgins, the hero was experienced, rich, and in his mid to late 30's.  Not quite as acceptable when viewed under the microscope of today's values but at the time I loved them. After Woodiwiss I migrated to the even more racy Rosemary Rogers.  I wonder if I went back and read them now if I would like them as much.  I know I stopped reading Rogers when her books became too focused on what I considered pedophilia.  But back then, it seemed it was Woodiwiss or Rogers to pick from.  



Last Edited on: 5/3/15 9:46 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/3/2015 11:04 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2009
Posts: 2,920
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I have the all and she had some of the best old school romances out there IMO, I read Ashes in the Wind recently and for me it stood up to time. I also read Rogers, but hers were a bit more edgy.

Date Posted: 5/3/2015 11:57 PM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2009
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My very first romance novel was Love Play by Rosemary Rogers. I swiped it off of my mom's bookshelf, and read it over and over. I still have a copy of it today (as over the top and dated as it is!) and re-read it every once in a while. It is one of my very few "keepers".

Date Posted: 5/4/2015 9:05 AM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2009
Posts: 2,920
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Debbie,

 

I still have mine as well. I saved my allowance to buy mine, oh if my mom only knew what I was reading in the early 80's! :-)

Date Posted: 5/5/2015 10:14 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2006
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I loved Kathleen Woodwiss's books and I still have them on my shelf:)  The Wolf and the Dove is my favorite with Flame and flower a close second.  I remember Rosemary Rogers and how racy they were at the time.  I wonder if I reread one would it still be?  Does anyone remember Laurie McBain, I still have her books on my shelves too:)  Devils Desire was so good. 

Date Posted: 5/6/2015 11:14 AM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2009
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I do remember Laurie McBain and still have all of her books. I remember reading that she started writing for her dad and when he passed away she no longer wanted to write.

Date Posted: 5/7/2015 8:48 PM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2009
Posts: 7,671
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I've been on an older book kick lately... I'm going to have to see if my library has a few of these. They seem to be getting more and more of the older romances on e-book. I kind of like that, since sometimes the really old paperbacks can have an "interesting" odor... Especially a library copy.