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Why don't I like Laura London's The Windflower? (SPOILERS)
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msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 688

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 6:34 pm    Post subject: Why don't I like Laura London's The Windflower? (SPOILERS) Reply with quote

I have finally got a copy of Laura London (aka Sharon and Tom Curtis)'s The Windflower after a long search, and am now slightly more than half-way through it. Many's an AAR reader and poster who's waxed lyrical about this "most favourite historical romance ever" (although I know the polls say that's Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase for many readers too).

I think I would have loved this book more if I had read it as a teenager. To me, it's very dated (i.e. written in the 1980's) although no contemporary costumes are worn. The heroine is the archetypal innocent 18-year-old, who gets kidnapped by pirates. She is on the pirate ship for weeks going into months and is greatly desired by the hero - but there's no sex at all until they are married. (I think there would be much earlier sex if it was written in the last 5 years or so). And none of the other pirates molest her. There are too many excessive suspension of disbelief events in the story - she runs away with a deserter and gets rowed to one of many small uninhabited islands - her companion deserter (an old geezer) dies (presumably of a heart attack) the night they arrive on the island, and his body gets eaten by crocodiles (she sees this happen) - how come the crocs didn't get her? (as she is no Lost or Survivor candidate) She manages to survive 2 whole weeks on this island by herself and is rescued by the hero (of course). She then gets cerebral malaria and goes into a coma, but somehow (without an IV) is able to swallow enough quinine and get well (OK - this difficult medical suspension of disbelief is because I am a physician who has treated patients with cerebral malaria). The prose is very purple in many places. However, there are witty exchanges between heroine and other characters, and I quite enjoyed those.

I really wanted to like this book better - it's not a wall-banger for me - just that some of the events in the story are too unrealistic (I know it's fiction, but, if you want to make the heroine ill, don't choose cerebral malaria). I know there have been some posters who did not love The Windflower - were your gripes the same as mine? And for those who loved it - did you read it when you were much younger (i.e. 24 years ago (1984) when it was first published, or 13 years ago (1995) when it was reissued)? I keep thinking that I would have enjoyed this book if I had read it the same time I read Rosemary Rogers' Wicked Loving Lies (another kidnapped heroine).
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 4225
Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 9:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Why don't I like Laura London's The Windflower? (SPOILER Reply with quote

msaggie wrote:
I know there have been some posters who did not love The Windflower - were your gripes the same as mine?

First off, I didn't like the heroine at all, msaggie. So that's a big negative from the get-go for me. Yes, I felt the book was dated, but only in that I never enjoyed that kind of story, which appeared to be popular in the '80s. The heroine appeared to be very immature to me and that was another difficult obstacle for me. Probably this next item I mention won't wear well with those who love the Curtis' way of writing, but their writing style is definitely not my style. But then I'm in the minority on Judith Ivory also. So maybe there really is a pattern here.

As far as The Windflower is concerned, though, I never really did finish it because it just wasn't working for me at all.
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LeeB.



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1280
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I haven't read The Windflower for many years but I wouldn't have picked up on the medical issues.

What do you think of Cat? I think he is pretty much everyone's favorite character in the book.
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kirstengarrett



Joined: 24 May 2007
Posts: 52

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although I usually prefer historical fiction and remember enjoying the Curtis' historical writings when I read them years ago, I have always liked their contemporary books much more. Sunshine and Shadow and The Testimony are two books I pull out almost every year to re-read and I recommend both to just about everyone.
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AAR Rachel



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 109
Location: Michigan

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sorry you haven't enjoyed it too much, Msaggie. I know I've praised it to the high heavens here and elsewhere, and it is troublesome to acquire. I think some books just have to hit you right, and The Windflower just does for me. I love, love, LOVE it.

In fact, my sister was re-reading it just the other day and we were talking and saying if the Curtises had just been a leeetle more prolific, if they'd written say 5 or 6 Windflower caliber books, we'd hardly need to own anything else. We just just re-read them over and over, and it would be enough. Hyperbole, yes. But there's truth in that, at least for me.

Again, I'm sorry if I did my part in leading you astray.
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msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 688

PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:20 am    Post subject: More spoilers galore Reply with quote

LeeB. wrote:
..What do you think of Cat? I think he is pretty much everyone's favorite character in the book.
LeeB, I really liked the secondary male characters, Cat, Raven, Rand Morgan. However, I am not too turned on by Cat's long white-blonde hair worn loose or in a braid or whatever - I kept thinking - he needs a hair-cut! All that hair could get in the way when you are a pirate. I agree with Merry's saying (in a roundabout way) that there are too many members of aristocracy on that pirate ship. And I never heard of a duke who married a gardener's daughter - so that was another suspension of disbelief.
AAR Rachel wrote:
..Again, I'm sorry if I did my part in leading you astray
Rachel, I am very grateful for your lovely reviews both here and on your blog which have introduced me to many of my DIK books - e.g. The Book Thief, The Bronze Horseman, To Have and To Hold, The Monk Downstairs, the Lucy Hatch books, Sharon Shinn's Archangel, Wen Spencer's Ukiah Oregon books, the list goes on...! I really wanted to like The Windflower more - and I really liked the first few chapters, but then there was rather too much suspension of disbelief for me in too many scenes, as I said in my earlier post. The bit about Merry going into coma because of malaria, and then being able to swallow quinine (which wasn't actually purified until later, historically) crowned it all. I can't stand this kind of medical inaccuracy in my fiction (in 1814 when The Windflower is set, malaria of that severity would have been fatal - actually many fevers were in that era, even Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, died of typhoid fever in the mid-1800's). There are medical liberties I could abide with -e.g. in The Spymaster's Lady when Annique removes the bullet from Adrian despite her condition (being careful about spoilers here) is possible, as the bullet's quite superficial, its removal is done by probing and feeling, rather than direct vision, and one is guided by the anatomical landmarks - the collar bone, the first rib; even Penelope Williamson's The Outsider, when Rachel Yoder is shot in the chest by Johnny Cain, and she survives - it's not impossible, though rather unlikely.

I can see why The Windflower is a favourite for many readers - there are lovely parts in it, and I really liked the witty dialogue in some places. However, I feel the writing is a bit uneven, and for all it's a meaty historical, the plot at times was meandering. At the end, Merry had a TSTL moment (the showdown in the ice warehouse). I hate it when heroines do that - and again, I think that's part of the datedness of The Windflower. If it had been written today, I am sure some editor would have asked the Curtises to cut back 50-100 pages or so, as my copy (the 1994 reprint) is currently at 502 pages. I am certain I would have adored it if I had read it as a teenager (as then, I would not have gone to medical school yet, nor trained as a physician). I am still keeping my copy, which I got via BookMooch, for a re-read in the future.
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:37 am    Post subject: Re: More spoilers galore Reply with quote

msaggie wrote:
If it had been written today, I am sure some editor would have asked the Curtises to cut back 50-100 pages or so, as my copy (the 1994 reprint) is currently at 502 pages.

For sure. That probably would have helped me immensely, but I'm sure there were many who wished it would never have ended.
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Claire



Joined: 01 Apr 2007
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Location: around Atlanta

PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never been able to find the Windflower but I quit looking after I read Sunshine and Shadows, sorry if I got the title a little off. It was also written either in the 80's I think and it suffers from being dated for me as well. Its about an Amish woman or some society within our society like this, that is isolated and she accidently meets a movie director who falls for her right away. I can't remember but I think he convinces her to be the star of the movie?? I bought it with high hopes and I"m not saying it was a wallbanger but a little too unrealistic, maybe in the way you were talking about, suspending belief. I think I would have loved it had I read it when I was younger and at the time it was written and I can see why others really dig it who read it then. If that makes sense. Smile
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Tinabelle



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 875
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Claire wrote:
I've never been able to find the Windflower but I quit looking after I read Sunshine and Shadows, sorry if I got the title a little off. It was also written either in the 80's I think and it suffers from being dated for me as well. Its about an Amish woman or some society within our society like this, that is isolated and she accidently meets a movie director who falls for her right away. I can't remember but I think he convinces her to be the star of the movie?? I bought it with high hopes and I"m not saying it was a wallbanger but a little too unrealistic, maybe in the way you were talking about, suspending belief. I think I would have loved it had I read it when I was younger and at the time it was written and I can see why others really dig it who read it then. If that makes sense. Smile


Well, here's another case of "to each his own." I absolutely loved Sunshine and Shadow and it is on my keeper shelf. IMHO this is a powerful story. And I think there was a lot of realism here in the depiction of the Hollywood culture and the struggles of many Amish to live in a different culture within the modern world.

What I loved about this story was seeing Alan Wilde, a cynical, jaded, and wounded soul, be redeemed by love. It was heartbreaking to watch Susan Peachy struggle with having to choose between love and her family and her Amish way of life. This was also a story about forgiveness on a lot of different levels and about the strength of family ties as seen within the dynamics of the Amish Hostetler family. Many people reexamined their beliefs, values, and what is important in life throughout the book.

I know that many feel The Windflower was the Curtis's best book; The winner in my book is Sunshine and Shadow, hands down.
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Terese



Joined: 11 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's great to hear what other readers think of a book. Personally I'm in the Love It camp on the Windflower. My main quibbles with the book are that I didn't really like Devon that much. Like many other readers I felt that Cat stole the show in every scene he was in and I loved reading those scenes. Raven too. I suppose it helped that I was able to suspend disbelief about the very things that msaggie noted: the medical things, the way she was never molested by the other pirates (although Morgan struck me as being both so terrifying and held in so much affection and awe by his crew that I wasn't surprised there) and how many of the pirates seemed connected with the aristocracy. I have found that I haven't read a book by the Curtises whether as Laura London or as Robin James or as Sharon and Tom Curtis that I did not like. Some I liked more than others. One thing they seem to have in common is excellent and intriguing secondary characters. My gosh, what I wouldn't give to find out whatever happened to the Joke five or ten years later.
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LeeB.



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1280
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

msaggie wrote:
LeeB. wrote:
..What do you think of Cat? I think he is pretty much everyone's favorite character in the book.
LeeB, I really liked the secondary male characters, Cat, Raven, Rand Morgan. However, I am not too turned on by Cat's long white-blonde hair worn loose or in a braid or whatever - I kept thinking - he needs a hair-cut! All that hair could get in the way when you are a pirate.


Msaggie: To each her own! :lol:

Terese wrote:
Morgan struck me as being both so terrifying and held in so much affection and awe by his crew that I wasn't surprised

I loved Morgan -- what a great character! He and Cat were really the stars of The Windflower.
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1665

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 8:19 pm    Post subject: Sunshine and Shadow Reply with quote

Claire wrote:
I've never been able to find the Windflower but I quit looking after I read Sunshine and Shadows, sorry if I got the title a little off. It was also written either in the 80's I think and it suffers from being dated for me as well. Its about an Amish woman or some society within our society like this, that is isolated and she accidently meets a movie director who falls for her right away. I can't remember but I think he convinces her to be the star of the movie?? I bought it with high hopes and I"m not saying it was a wallbanger but a little too unrealistic, maybe in the way you were talking about, suspending belief. I think I would have loved it had I read it when I was younger and at the time it was written and I can see why others really dig it who read it then. If that makes sense. Smile


I have to say I agree with Claire about S&S. I almost posted on the ATBF regarding my feelings that this book felt dated to me, but I gave it away and can't recite specific examples of exactly why. What I do remember is that I was slightly bored by Alan and Susan. Susan was too perfect, and for whatever reason her struggles never resonated with me. OTOH, her sister Rachel's struggles with her identity felt much more real. I adored her brother David (I think that's his name), but again, he was a secondary character and he simply wasn't present often enough. I've got The Windflower sitting in my TBR pile, but I've been afraid to pull it out for fear I'll have exactly the same reaction. I want to love these books and I can see that there's much to admire, but they don't bring forth the intense emotional reaction that my favorite romances do.
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MaryK



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 177
Location: Denham Springs, La

PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 3:39 pm    Post subject: Lightning That Lingers Reply with quote

Terese wrote:
I felt that Cat stole the show in every scene he was in and I loved reading those scenes.

I just realized why Lightning That Lingers is my favorite Curtis. (So far. I haven't read Testimony or Sunshine & Shadow. Did you know S&S won a Rita in 1987?) I think Philip has a little bit of Cat in him!
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CD



Joined: 15 Sep 2007
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Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terese wrote:
It's great to hear what other readers think of a book. Personally I'm in the Love It camp on the Windflower. My main quibbles with the book are that I didn't really like Devon that much.


With you there, Terese. I really liked THE WINDFLOWER despite it being obviously dated and pretty ludicrous - I just took it as the novel equivalent of an Errol Flynn/Tyrone Power old school pirate romance.

I actually liked Merry but that was probably because I was pretty close to her age when I read it so can relate to being young, naive and stupid. However, I too couldn't stand Devon - too *old* (bear in mind I was in my late teens here), patronising and generally annoying. Tried to ignore him (and the titular romance) as much as possible and concentrate on the other characters and the fantastic adventure story. I also really liked Laura London's prose style but that's a personal thing.
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KathieO



Joined: 12 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:05 pm    Post subject: The Windflower Reply with quote

Yeah - Why don't we like this book Msaggie??!! Like you, I heard it raved about forever and a day. I like to do a lot of research and try and read most of the backlist of romances that pop up everywhere . . . basically what's considered today's "classics." As you know, TW was everywhere. Surprisingly, I didn't have much trouble (or cost in my world) to obtain it $10 at Amazon used (believe it was an individual seller).

When I received it, I immediately hated the cover H/H depiction. Found neither attractive, IMO, and once I started reading, the cover H/H looked way too old to be the H/H as written (okay maybe not the hero). This doesn't generally bode well for me! Finally made myself begin reading it (despite it's teeny-tiny print).

When it was all said and done, I think I somewhat remained interested (vaguely) in the story up to about the time Merry and (was it Devon?) meet at the Alehouse/Inn. Then it starts the draggggg. For some reason, I just found each one of Merry's scrapes after that, not that compeling or interesting. I thought Merry was (like many stated) immature (because she was written as a true 18-year old, go figure), and Devon (forgive me if I can't even remember the correct name for the "hero") was pretty stand-offish and not particularly tortured, endearing, charming . . . just blahh for me! Someone said he was not very well developed as heros go, and I have to agree with that statement. I never wanted Merry to be with Cat (like so many). I thought he was an interesting character, but also seemed too young and somewhat bizarre, even effeminate (as 16-year old boys go) to have any kind of hero appeal/role for me. In fact, lets add Raven, and this book is just bounding with what seem to be 16-year old boys!?!

It took me a good month to read this book (because I was determined to have an informed opinion!). I think I probably read three or four books between it! Agree with a few who said they should have read it when they were 18 and probably would have liked it better! At 18, I was sexually unsophisticated (this book is that), still thought "boys" were dreamy (Rand Morgan is probably more my speed today, if anybody), and it didn't take too much work to suspend my disbelief at that age. I think I just don't get the overall appeal because of the vast experience gap now. Besides, pirates never really have been my thing anyway, so . . . 'nuf said.

Now I just need to find the board that I can mail it to somebody else who wants to be tortured! Whew, onto an Elizabeth Hoyt book . . . !! Wink
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