There are two types of people in this world: those who lament February’s arrival, and romantics. Cupid’s month brings an onslaught of candy hearts, spontaneous affection, and general warmth in the otherwise frigid (ahem, more snow?) air.
So, what better way to celebrate Valentine’s season, we thought, than with a Retro Reads pick filled with passion, suspense, and life-changing love? The obvious choice, Marilyn French’s The Bleeding Heart, sounded like the perfect blend of drama, romance, and passion, and elicited lively conversation from our Retro Readers.
Julie reflected on the original time of publication (1980) and its effect on the book’s discussion of gender—especially how the perceived roles shape the trajectory of the relationship between Dolores and Victor. Lila reacted similarly to the book’s intensity, noting that it forced her to “think and feel deeply,” and calling the novel “enlightening.”
... For March, we’re getting into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit with a romantic suspense pick, Whistle for the Crows by Dorothy Eden. Set against the austere backdrop of an old Irish castle, this tale is a perfect mix of dark thrills and irresistible romance.
Check out our Retro Reads Goodreads group to see these reviews, related videos, and our ongoing discussion.
Want to become a Retro Reader? Learn more about the program here.
As for Ireland—my grandparents came from Tipperary, probably in the mid-nineteenth century. The famine may have had something to do with it; records are hard to come by. My grandfather Caldwell was born in 1819, but there’s no birth certificate because, until much later in that century, the indigenous Irish were not included in censuses, like the slaves in America.
As second generation Irish-American, I was schooled in Irish patriotism at an early age, which is why I sent Kitty McCloud [in the Pig Trilogy] to Fordham, where she developed—and embraced—an intensified nationalism that matches my own. (It’s said that American Irish are more nationalistic than the Irish themselves. I’m not sure I subscribe. Then, too, we American Irish can revel in a patriotism that required no sacrifice of life or freedom.) There’s strain of romanticism in all this—which, I suspect, lies at the core of the trilogy. I loved writing it—particularly the parts where I’m mean to the English.* (Excluding, of course, Luke... Parker Bowles!!)
More about my Irish allegiance: Early on, my older sister Sally—a year and a half older—taught me a song—“The Wearing o’ the Green”—which we often sang. I can’t remember all of it but the refrain was:
She’s the most distressful country
that ever you have seen;
They’re hanging men and women there
for the wearing o’ the green.
Also: One year, on St. Patrick’s Day, my mother realized she was putting an orange in each of our lunches. Orange, of course, is the color of the Anglos. She wrapped them in green tissue paper.
*After all, they were a bit mean to us.
—Joseph Caldwell, author of the Pig Trilogy
Find more St. Patrick's Day posts here!