Barbara Cartland Margin Note

A Fugitive From Love

I love the way he’s drawn her dress. (Francis Marshall)

Click to view large – Someone had marked a section in red, leaving a comment below. 

The plot is that the beautiful and delicate heroine has been kidnapped by an evil Russian nobleman (obviously, since nearly all Russians are evil in BCs) who has run off into the desert with her. (I forget where this is set)

She is placed in a tent and after telling her how he plans to ‘de-flower’ her, he claps his hands imperiously to summon a serving woman to dress his fragile flower in an outfit of suitably flimsy eastern robes.

She is then told that if she thinks about trying to escape by bribing her, the serving woman is a deaf-mute and won’t understand her.

In the margins, some unknown reader before me has underlined ‘deaf-mute’ and noted in red in the margin,

“How did she hear him clap his hands?”

By golly that’s a good point! I would never have noticed that.

I really enjoyed that little note. It really perked up the book.

Someone was telling me about this artist (can never remember names) who had a project where volunteers had to take romance novels and read them very openly on public transport.

They couldn’t hide it, they had to sit up, holding the book high at eye level with the cover facing outside.

The idea being to gauge the reaction of strangers (Or so I vaguely remember being told) and later the participants would fill out some form describing how they felt and what they felt other people were thinking about them.

What a great idea for a project. I feel slightly embarrassed about reading the Barbara Cartland’s on the tube.

The Heyer’s have a little more cred, but there can only be shame in BC titles such as “Pirate of Love”

I fear the judgement of strangers. I don’t know why, but I do.

So I use various mechanisms of hiding the title. Mostly I fold the cover over, which I don’t like doing because it ruins the spine.

Really what I need is a dust jacket.

I believe someone created a series of dust jackets designed to look like serious books of literary merit like Tolstoy’s War & Peace.

I saw someone reading this on the tube once. What a show-off.

24 thoughts on “Barbara Cartland Margin Note

    • Does it really?
      That would make perfect sense.
      Its a well illustrated cover. It has everything you could possibly need to understand the basic gist of the plot.
      I like the choice of colours too.

  1. When I took a literary history course a couple of years back one of my classmates bought some sort of pocket book cover in order to hide the fact that he was reading Anne of Green Gables on the train to school. That kind of thing must be available in stores somewhere. I personally believe that one should never be embarrassed by what one reads. I’m a huge literature junkie, but enjoy children’s novels as much as I enjoy The Stranger by Camus. It’s up to you to decide what is good literature, no one else has the right to tell you. Well, that was my two cents…^^

    • Anne of Green Gables is a classic! He shouldn’t have had shame but I can sympathise since its not your typical ‘boys’ book.

      Its hard thought not to feel shame with a BC. Look at that cover.
      Also the truth is, it’s horrendously badly written.
      Heyer referred to Cartland’s writing (plagiarism) as ‘such stuff!’ and she was quite right
      You can read some of it if you click on the text image.

  2. That’s the kind of cover that’s emblazoned on my brain as traditionally Barbara Cartland. Love it. One of my major grouses with new Mills & Boons are the covers, which have models and real people’s faces. It’s ridiculously tacky, in an irredeemable way.

    A friend of my mother’s used to cover her Barbara Cartlands with brown paper, which seemed to me to be a lot of pre-reading work.

    I’m always amused by the expressions I see around me when I’m buying my Mills & Boons. It’s somewhere between contempt and pity. Which is fine. I’m sure there are worse things I could read (Indian pop fiction, for instance).

    • I feel really cheated when the covers don’t look like this (some have just a nauseating barbie pink or hard bound in red) – or are painted by this other illustrator who draws in a terribly clunky ham fisted way. It just looks so budget.
      This guy is really amazing. His covers are half the reason I buy the books.

      I don’t approve of whoever is designing the mills and boons. It’s really off-putting. Also if the cover is not so attractive it just ruins the whole book.

      Maybe we should do an art project where we get various people to read out aloud from a range of romance novels and film it.

  3. Yes Heyer is a *little better– but still poison enough that Fay Weldon can blame bad marriages on her.

    Perhaps you should consult the library more often: my life has been very full of other people’s marginalia in everything from the “Divine Comedy” to . . . well, there’s plenty more where the above came from, let’s say. The world is full of margins so get cracking!

    Glamour magazine likes to put undercover women reading How To Orgasm guides and that sort of thing on the subway, so it’s been done. Reading “Anne of Green Gables” would get a guy pegged as a perv, so caution is useful.

    I hate reading erotica on ebooks. Women have ruined just everything: the books should be smutty and they should be demur, not the other way around,

    • Fay Weldon, whoever she is, needs to take responsibility for her own bad marriage/marriages.

      But all romance books peddle ideas that aren’t very realistic if applied to a real marriage if thats what she was implying.

      Heyer’s A Civil contract is a nice exception in the genre. Fay ought to have read that. It’s about a marriage that isn’t based on romance – The heroine is plump and plain, the hero is in love with some one else to begin with, plus both come from different class and financial backgrounds, and struggle to deal with it.
      It was actually a really good book, but not as a romance novel.

      I’m with you on the ebooks. Another piece of expensive metal I need to charge, insure and can’t leave on top of a sun lounger unless I want to risk it being stolen.

      • That you would even think of reading on a “sun lounger” says–too much.

        “Fay Weldon, whoever she is”–jeebus. i think it’s time to take this cyber-platonic bdsm thing to the next level and work on your education.

        As a ladette I discovered masturbation over a Dorothy Eden novel about a poor English girl rescued from White Slavers by a rising MP whose marriage to her was then arranged to enhance his dashing Reformist credentials.

        He then basically refuses to have anything to do with her: she tosses on those empty sheets, waiting for him. Eventually he gives her–one–rough bout of consummation.

        And then the games really begin . . . .

        So what you describe as an ‘exception’ sounds to me like every romance novel I’ve ever read.

        –Actually, I did arbitrarily pick up a romance novel at a library discard sale, about nine years ago now. Most of it read like traditional romance (it was published in the early 70s) but there were two scenes so jaw-droppingly outside the norm, I don’t know how they happened.

        The book was following the Asian caravan route, post-Marco Polo times. One scene was aphrodisiac-fueled open paederasty at a slave market, the other a lesbians-and-eunuchs dildo orgy in a swimming pool.

        Maybe the genre had a little 70s phase in the 70s?

      • You, madam, made me commit my first act of book piracy. (Ok, “made” might be a bit strong, but whatever.) I downloaded Georgette Heyer collection, that included The Contract. I have to say, it has so far warmed the cockles of my Mills & Boon-loving heart.

        However, more scary is that I think I could so easily get used to reading on devices. Particularly this crappy stuff. Real literature I still want on real books but there’s a convenience to the crap being on my phone rather than weighing down my bag. Or maybe I’m just saying this because I’ve read only 30 pages on the phone.

        • *gasp* Heyers should be in paper form! And she is NOT crappy! Sacrilege. I got so hopped up after reading ‘These Old shades’ that I promptly re-read it immediately.

          I haven’t tried a proper electronic reader, like a kindle with the special screen. I find the glare hurts after a while on regular screens.

          Also if you eat lychees over an electronic reader that will be one unholy sticky mess. (you may substitute lychees with messy food substance of your choice)

  4. That is a lovely cover! We should all read anything all the time as far as I’m concerned – embarrassment be damned, at least you’re a ‘Reader’!

    Remember how we had to wear dust covers on our Harry Potters until they made some more ‘adult’ friendly covers?

    As for the margin note – seems the person might be good as spotting continuity errors in movies too, wasn’t Charlton Heston wearing a wrist watch in the chariot race of Ben hur?…..

    • Actually I was unashamed with Potter, I never bothered with those adult covers. But then i think i first read it when I was in college. so there was no judgement

      That margin note person was on it. I noticed only one continuity ever, and I think after it was pointed out – in the Batman with michelle piffer as catwoman, there is one scene where behind Batman’s mask he has black paint around his eyes and a couple of seconds later the paint is gone.

  5. Barbara Carthorse used to “write” her books lying on a chaise lounge dictating them to her secretary, who would then type them up.

    She wasn’t all bad: she pushed through the first permanent settlement for Travellers when she was a county councilor in Hertfordshire. I have somewhere one of her books of sexual advice for teenagers, which can be summed up as “Don’t, at least until you’re married.”

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