The Original Bodice-Ripper and the Emergence of the Romance Novel

C.H. Armstrong Books & Blog

Recently I read an article on NPR entitled Happily Ever After: 100 Swoon-Worthy Romances.  Apparently NPR had taken a poll of readers to discover what romance novels would rank in the top 100.  They had to close the poll early because the response was overwhelming.  Everybody had an opinion.

On the list was some of my favorite romance novelists, including:  Julia Quinn, Diana Gabaldon, Lisa Kleypas, Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Rainbow Rowell…I could probably have written the list.  But one title was conspicuously missing:  The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.

TheFlameAndTheFlowerIn truth, I’d never read this book but I’m familiar with it because it is widely acknowledged as the first modern romance novel.  Published in 1972, Woodiwiss’ novel created the “historical romance” genre.  So it was with no small amount of surprise to see that this novel wasn’t…

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