Friday, March 30, 2012

Favorite Author: Kathleen Woodiwiss, A Pioneer in Historical Romance, and a Classic Author of Keepers


Her debut novel, THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER, was initially rejected by the hardback publishers as being too long at 600 pages. Strong-willed woman that she was, Woodiwiss did not shorten her novel. Instead, she submitted it to paperback publishers. Avon purchased the novel and laughed all the way to the bank. Published in 1972, THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER sold over 2.3 million copies in its first four years of publication, and is credited with spawning the modern historical romance genre. It was the first romance novel to fling open the bedroom door--the door that has never closed. It’s a wonderful story and anyone who has read it will likely agree.

Her next novels, THE WOLF AND THE DOVE and SHANNA were equally wonderful. In fact, anything she wrote before the mid 1980s garnered 5 stars from me. But beginning in the late 80s, her writing, though still enjoyable, was not quite equal to her earlier works (in my opinion). But you can't argue with results. There are now more than 36 million copies of her books in print and they are enjoyed by fans of all ages. SHANNA is on my Ultimate Top 10 list of favorite historical romances.

I love the fact that Woodiwiss met her Air Force officer husband at a dance when she was only sixteen, and they married the following year, on July 20, 1956. They were married until he died. We lost her to cancer at age 68 in 2007, the same year her last book, EVERLASTING, was published. (EVERLASTING, along with THE WOLF AND THE DOVE, is on my Best Medieval Romances list; THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER is on my Best Bodice Ripper list; and ASHES IN THE WIND is on my Best American Patriotic Romances list.)


Her books:

Birmingham Family Saga Series

• The Flame and the Flower (1972)
• The Elusive Flame (1998)
• A Season Beyond a Kiss (2000)

Related short stories:

• "The Kiss" in THREE WEDDINGS AND A KISS, 1995
• "Beyond the Kiss" in MARRIED AT MIDNIGHT, 1996

Single Novels

▪ The Wolf and the Dove, 1974
▪ Shanna, 1977
▪ Ashes in the Wind, 1979
▪ A Rose in Winter, 1981
▪ Come Love a Stranger, 1984
▪ So Worthy My Love, 1989
▪ Forever in Your Embrace, 1992
▪ Petals on the River, 1997
▪ The Reluctant Suitor, 2002
▪ Everlasting, 2007

20 comments:

  1. I remember back when I heard about and then read The Flame and the Flower, Harlequin was the only *romance* house at the time and they didn't even allow a kiss until the very last page. My, how things have changed. I wonder if Kathleen knew the floodgates she was opening at the time *g*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marsha,
      Kathleen Woodiwiss, like Kathleen Givens, was one of those authors who have left us but that I would have loved to know. I'm so glad that you are now writing again. Recall when I first "discovered" you and sent you that first email, now a few years back, I encouraged you to write again. You bring SO MUCH to the world of historical romance...a rich tapestry of wonderful stories for generations to cherish!

      Delete
    2. I too am so glad Marsha's writing again! I'm reading through her catalog for the second time and anxiously awaiting a new story.

      Delete
    3. Marsha,
      I daresay she did after the first year following The Flame and the Flower.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I too have enjoyed and loved Kathleen Woodiwiss's books! I can remember where I was when I read each one. They certainly opened the floodgates for me! And I was lucky enough to meet her once and have her sign my hardcover copy of SHANNA. She was very gracious & rather shy. It's hard to realize that she is no longer with us - but her books will continue to be enjoyed forever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cyndi,
      SHANNA is my favorite by her. I can remember reading passages out loud to my best friend saying, "Can imagine writing like that?" I was in awe and still am. She was timeless in her early works. I will always admire her and you are right. We will enjoy her work forever.

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have every one of her books and was lucky enough to get a signed copy I purchased on Ebay. Although her earlier work many feel was her best, her male characters literally swept me off my feet! Never have I grieved so when the last pages of Flame and the Flower ended. Very lovely post Regan. We are so lucky to have such talented authors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you are so right, Teresa. I can remember reading passages of that book to my best friend saying "Can you believe how vivid that is? I feel every rut in the road."

      Delete
    2. I love this post about KEW. She was one of the greats, though sadly no longer with us. However, she lives on through her work!

      Delete
    3. Yes she does live on. And new historical romance readers today are just discovering her wonderful stories.

      Delete
  6. Each and every book she wrote sits on my Keeper Shelves. I even have the original paperbacks of them all. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's amazing, Leah. I have all her books, too, and I'd not part with them.

      Delete
  7. I wish I still had her original books. Mine fell apart, as did those by Bertrice Small! I read them all to death. THE WOLF AND THE DOVE and A ROSE IN WINTER were my favorites. -- Beckie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, well, Beckie. They can still be procured both new and used on Amazon.

      Delete
  8. Shanna and A Rose in Winter are my 2 faves from Kathleen Woodiwiss, and I have read them again and again. The other early ones are excellent too, but I agree the later ones weren't quite as good. Now that I've found this Blog I have to start reading Regan's (just reading Marsha Canham's catalog--for the 2nd time--right now).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for joining us, Cheryl! Shanna is my favorite by Woodiwiss (on my Top 10 list!). And A Rose in Winter is good, too. I remember when I first read The Flame and the Flower (it was in 2009, I believe). It just blew me away, she was so good.

      Delete
  9. Kathleen Woodiwise' book, Shanna, was passed down to me from my Grandmorher who loved her. She has a way to be descriptive with intimacy but yet tasteful and moral. And she doesn't use bad language!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Shanna is my favorite by her, Susan. I can see how it might be passed down from one woman in a family to another.

    ReplyDelete