Friday, March 30, 2012
New Review: Kathleen Woodiwiss’ THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER – Captivating Tale and a Classic Keeper!
This was Kathleen Woodiwiss' first romance, published in 1972, and it's still a gold standard. She set the bar so high that few can come close even now. It's a timeless, wonderful story rich in detail and emotion. You will love it.
Set in 1799, it tells the story of the beautiful young Heather Simmons who was raised a nobleman's daughter, but when her father gambled away all their money at his grief over her mother's death and then died while she was still a young girl, Heather is sent off to live with poor relations who abuse her (think Cinderella). She believes she is given a chance to escape when her older cousin, a successful merchant, comes to call, claiming he can get her a job at a girl's school in London. But she soon discovers that the lecherous old man has something entirely different in mind. When he dresses her up as a whore, Heather flees only to find herself on the docks of London where she is seized by Capt. Brandon Birmingham's men who are looking for a doxy for their captain's pleasure for the night. Brandon, an American merchant sea captain from the Carolinas, is delighted with what he believes is a gorgeous young prostitute. Before he hears her story, he has his way with her only to realize he has just deflowered a virgin. He tells her she needs to be resigned to becoming his paramour, but she will have none of it and escapes. (I just loved that part…and her courage in doing it!) And so the tale begins.
It's an amazing story and takes us from a poor farm in England, to a merchant ship sailing across the Atlantic to the American south of wealthy plantations. Woodiwiss paints vivid word pictures of life on the farm and the adventure at sea. It is a tale of great love coming from a rude beginning. I liked Woodiwiss’ prose and masterfully drawn characters. If you read historical romance, you MUST read this one that started the modern historical romance genre.