Romance Reading Timeline 1970s Pt. 2

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<1970s Pt. 1

Small-Scale Historicals

Ian McCorquodale and Barbara Cartland

Barbara Cartland Bantam Books series

This series came after the Pyramid series below.  They are a scaled-down version of the more dramatic Pyramid books.  Cartland was still holding strong for the first twenty or so, but then she started relying heavily, then exclusively on stock characters (the Mr. Rochester-style hero), and phrases (the stuttering ingenue).  Then she switched to Camden publishers, and at that point, she was too tedious to bother with anymore.  She even had an extra series where she …well, I don’t know what she did, but she basically re-packaged romances written by other people, Elinor Glyn, for example.  Still not sure what that was about.  

I love the covers on these. They begged to be collected, what with the numbers and the artwork.  I think the same guy posed for most of these covers. A tall, black-haired, hawk-faced man.  Who is this guy???  He’s awesome!  And he always looked brooding.  The heroine always looked like she just discovered there’s no bathroom and she’s been holding it in for hours.

I read all of these and about a dozen more besides.  It seems like more than that because I read them more than once.

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My 1st B. Cartland. I still have it!  Magical! Still take this out to read sometimes.
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I still take this one out sometimes, too. A feel-good book.
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Great story and educational, too.  I think.
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Awful! Hokey logic. I think it contained some local pidgin.
The Little Adventure (The Bantam Barbara Cartland Library #3)
This was #3 of the series and BC was at her peak, I believe.
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Different!  The first romance I ever read that was from the man’s point of view.
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Not bad.   I remember liking it. I remember thinking that I didn’t know farmers in France also wore wooden shoes.
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Did not read it, but it was an awful tv movie with Linda Purl.

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Dull yet enjoyable. Formula writing with lots of stock phrases.

Passions in the Sand (Barbara Cartland #41)

This one was kind of hot. Shocking!

Love in the Dark

She started out as Rubenesque, but then slimmed down by the time he got his sight back.

Man and Maid (Library of Love, Bk 10)

BC did not write this but she re-packaged it.

 

Barbara Cartland Pyramid Books Series

Several of these were in my mom’s closet.  After I read DESIRE OF THE HEART, I went through that closet obsessively and found a handful more.  They kept me busy for many a weekend for a couple of years – because I read them over and over and over.  I was coming into my hormones at the time. LOL Princess

These came before the Bantam series.  They are more fully developed as novels. Cartland was in her prime with this series.  There was some repetition, but she used several time frames in this series, ranging from Elizabethan to the 1930s.  If you can get hold of these, they are very good!  You can even pick up a bit of French in many of them.

Desire of the Heart

The 2nd BC I read after THE CRUEL COUNT. I was well and truly hooked! This is one of the best of this line.

Love in Hiding

The Wings of Love (Pyramid #25)

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The Coin of Love

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This one was made into a tv movie with Hugh Grant, Emma Samms and Lysette Anthony.
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  • The covers that are flush left will take you to Paperbackswap.  The covers that are centered will link you to www.amazon.com, but you can also find some at www.ebay.com. Also be careful because several of these are listed as lots (a group of books) and the cover may not be representative of what you’re actually buying. 
  • Other books that were made into movies were
    • Duel of Hearts
    • A Ghost in Monte Carlo
    • A Hazard of Hearts
    • The Secret Heart (Cupid Rides Pillion) (The Lady and The Highwayman)

    A Hazard of Hearts

    Original edition

    A Ghost In Monte Carlo

    Original edition

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    DVD with Helena Bonham-Carter and Marcus Gilbert

    Item image

    Video availability on eBay

    Product DetailsThe Lady & the Highwaymanvideo availability

    A Hazard of Hearts

    paperback tie-in

    A Ghost in Monte Carlo

    paperback tie-in

    Could not find a book tie-in.

    A Duel of Hearts

    Original edition

    Product Details
    Only American video available
    Could not find a book tie-in.

Reading these was like eating potato chips.  I could read 3 in a weekend. 4 if I stayed up late enough.  You have to understand: there were only four channels on tv. ABC, CBS, NBC, KLRN. Maybe one or two Mexican channels. And if you were lucky, HBO.  Weekends were cartoons, American Bandstand, then sports until prime time.  So not a whole lot going on during the day.  Hence reading.  In a chaotic, crowded house, reading meant peace.  Reading meant solitude.  Reading and being in the bathroom were the only two ways to be left alone.

The Pyramid series were broad-spectrum adventures without being vulgar.  That’s probably why some of those were developed into movies.  Only one Bantam book was made into a movie and it sucked.  Plus, I loved reading about “somewhere else”.  Castles, mountains, oceans, Monsieur Worth!  The clothes!!!  It wasn’t a Cartland romance without a visit to the most famous dressmaker to the ton, Monsieur Worth! That’s where she would get super descriptive and it was all like a dream!  Seamstresses fluttering about you like butterflies while Worth himself directed your transformation.  I WANT THAT!  LOL! Flirt female 

The Bantam series were sweet and intimate.  There was a lot of conversation in them. Real conversations.  In one of my favorites, THE LITTLE ADVENTURE, the heroine shocks the hero by her knowledge of philosophers and how much she’s read. They actually discuss it. Wow!  Also, the bad guys were never super bad.  They were just sexist assholes.  That’s another thing – Cartland often wrote heroines as seekers of independence – daring, stubborn; remarkably clever and well-read.  Well done Dame Barbara!  Unfortunately, it was always seen as unusual and even anarchic. 

In both series, you could pick up some of the European languages that Cartland peppered her prose with.  Growing up in a bilingual household, I picked up words like monsieur, signore, vicomte, signorina, ton, demimonde, demimondaine, citron presse, cher amie, mademoiselle…well, you get the idea. Princess  I loved all that! (If my spelling is off, please forgive.)  How hilarious is that!  I didn’t know French, per se, but I knew, like, five words for “whore” in two languages!  LOL!  It made for weird conversations at school when I tried to use them, though.  My friends were not reading these books, so I sounded kind of weird compared to the typical pimply patois of adolescence.

Cartland was nothing if not consistent in her character development.  The blueprint for girls was skinny, pale, huge eyes, birdlike physique. And skinny. Real skinny. And really BIG eyes.  Just look at the covers, especially the Bantam series.  The men: tall, broad, dark hair, dark skin (hardly any fair-haired men or ginger), hawk nose or straight Roman nose.  Hawt!!  Sorry…  She’s an innocent, ignorant virgin; he’s a bastard who frequents brothels.  She softens him up, but he doesn’t show it in front of her until one of them is near death.  We’re talking about a couple hundred books made with this erector set.  Don’t be impressed by her Guinness Book of World Records record (top-selling author in 1983 according to Wikipedia).  Most of the books were half-ass regurgitations of stock gimmicks.

When I was 13, I took them WAY too seriously! LOL. Now, I read them as sweet antique pieces of a world of manners we’ll never see ever again.


This video from Little Britain has Matt Lucas as a Barbara Cartland-type author – Dame Sally Markham.

Click for Little Britain online. But it has not been kept up very well. You’re better off going to BBC Comedy.

 


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