Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Title: The Windflower
Author: Laura London
Published: 1984, Dell
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 10/10

Yes, you read that right. I'm giving this book a 10/10. I never give 10s! But then this just might be the best romance I've ever read. I've heard about this book ever since I started reading romance--it always comes up as a classic old favorite. And now I know why.

Merry Wilding is an 18-year-old living in rural Virginia during the War of 1812. She's a bit sheltered and a little naive. Her brother is a spy for the Americans and he asks Merry to come with him to a tavern so that she can draw sketches (she's a very good artist) of a few men--men who turn out to be pirates. Merry and one of the pirates--the extremely handsome, godlike Devon--have a little interlude, though Devon lets her go without too much bother. Several months later, Merry is setting out on a trip to England with her aunt, when she is abducted by the same pirates (for reasons that are too complicated to go into here). Merry is held on the ship for months, has many adventures, befriends a crew of pirates, grows up a lot, and of course falls in love with one of her captors.

[sidenote] Isn't there a condition where victims fall in love with their captors? And I've just been to Wiki--it's called the Stockholm Syndrome. Like Patty Hearst! There are definite shades of that here. She hates the pirates/she loves the pirates. She wants to go home/she wants to adventure. She is never really beaten or molested, though the pirates are quite cruel to her at times. And surprisingly kind at other times. [/sidenote]

And now I will gush like a rabid fangirl.

This really is classic romance. The 1980s were sort of the glory days of the big historical romance novel. Everything was big in the 1980s--LOL. The story is big and complicated, the characters are complex and interesting. People may complain that Merry is naive and annoying, but I thought her reactions to her situation was spot-on and fabulous. You would be scared and confused and resentful, but she gets over it. She learns and you really can see her grow up. I liked Devon too, though he was a little bland compared with some of the other characters. Um, like Cat?! Yeah! I've heard people calling for Cat's story and I will join them because he's f*ing FANTASTIC. He's so clever--I think he and Morgan definitely have some of the best lines in the book. And lovable Raven!

The prose is lush, florid, slightly overblown, with adjectives dripping from every sentence--just the kind of writing that usually drives me nuts. An example: "The kindly fates, after separating Merry and Devon in experience and temperament, had looked back with regretful sighs and cast camelia garlands of warm conversation on the ill-omened pair." Ah! It's so over-the-top, and yet it's original and so part-and-parcel with the whole epic, ultra-romantic feeling of the novel that it's perfect. My general preference may be for spare, straightforward writing, but that would never have worked here.

There's so much to this book that I can see myself re-reading it many times and finding something new every time. A joke I missed, an aspect of a character that I hadn't seen before. And to be honest, (though I love romance, don't get me wrong) subtlety and complexity are the two things I find most annoyingly lacking in romance novels. So when I find a book like this, it makes me all the more appreciative.

Have I gushed enough? I will just end by saying that this was 450 pages of a helluva good time. Must-read for anyone who likes romance!


~ames~ said...

Ooh, I know some people have been calling for a good pirate book. Good review!!

Rosario said...

Ok, I'm sold. And I have it in the TBR, too!

nath said...

Wow! Perfect 10, how rare this day... I've never heard of this one tho...

C2 said...

Isn't it just the most fabulous book ever?? Oh, I love it so! :o) Excellent review, too!

Welcome to the chorus of people whining "We want Cat's book!" LOL

CindyS said...

I have this in the TBR pile but now I must save it for one of my 'bad' days ;)

A perfect 10, unbelievable!!

Maybe I'm having a bad day now?


Jennie said...

Yes, yes, everyone dig it out of the TBR!!! You won't be sorry. :p

Kristie (J) said...

Yea! A perfect 10!! Isn't this one simply one of the BEST? I gave it 5 1/2 out of 5, the only book to get such an honour. When I read this one I found I could only read it in small doses. It was just so rich - like the richest dessert you can imagine. That and the fact that I just didn't want it to end. Normally in books I'm loving, I rush through them to get to the end, but for some reason it was impossible to do it with this one. I know that's a wierd way to describe reading but thats how it was for me. And *huge enormous sigh* Cat. NOW you know why we are all craving him so very much.
I'm so glad you read it and that you loved it.

Samantha said...

oooo! I've been trying to get my paws on this book for over a year, but can't find it anywhere. :( Where did everyone find their copies? Isn't it out of print?

Kristie (J) said...

I belonged to the DoubleDay book club for a while and they reissued it about 2 or 3 years ago there. It's the same cover that Jennie has posted. When I first saw it in the brochure, I couldn't fill in my form fast enough! So mine is a hardcover copy :)

CindyS said...

I *think* I finally tracked mine down at a UBS or someone on my booktrade list found it for me. Definitely hard to find.


Tara Marie said...

Not only have I never read this, I can't find a copy. I just had a brainstorm and decided to try and get it from the library.

Jennie said...

Kritie--I read it slowly too! It was way too good to rush through. And Cat. Yes, Cat it soooo cool. Anyone have Tom & Sharon Curtis's email? We could start a letter-writing campaign for them to write Cat's story.

Samantha--I asked for mine for Christmas, so I'll have to ask my Mom where she got it. She trolls online used book stores a lot, so I'm guessing that's where found it. I think they can be pricey though. If you want to borrow mine, I'd mail it to you. But you have to promise me to mail it back! Just email me. jenniesbooklog at gmail.

Tara Marie--I can't believe you haven't read this! You've read everything. :p
If you can't get it from the library, my offer to Samantha goes for you too.

Anonymous said...

Santa made a good choice, then?

Anonymous said...

Santa got the book through www.abebooks.com. He also trolls through www.alibris.com and Amazon's used books sales in his mission to fulfill wishes.
Santa didn't read the Windflower either and would be glad to (perhaps on a future visit?)

Jennie said...

Mama--Yes, Santa has mad skillz for finding good books online! :p

Anonymous said...

I found your blog today and I love it. If you don't mind (let me know if you do) I will make a link on my new website.

Jennie said...

Hi Jeanette! Link away--that's what the internet is all about. :)

But you didn't leave your link here! Or is your website not up and running yet? Let me know so I can stop by!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennie,

I left the link but maybe something went wrong. Here it is.