Monday, July 09, 2007

Book 36: The Look of Love

NUMBER: 36
TITLE: The Look of Love: The Art of the Romance Novel
AUTHOR: Jennifer McKnight-Trontz
STARTED: July 7, 2007
FINISHED: July 7, 2007
PAGES: 144 (though only about 20 of them have text)
GENRE: Books about Books

FIRST SENTENCE: The arc of the traditional romance relationship follows a simple pattern: woman desires man, man is hard to get, woman snags man, they live happily ever after.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Swashbuckling sailors, dashing dukes, naughty nurses, and sexy steward-esses caught in webs of love, passion, betrayal, and intrigue: these are the raw materials of the romance novel--and the lusty covers that advertise them. In The Look of Love, Jennifer McKnight-Trontz provides a rollicking history of the covers and stories that have captivated millions of readers worldwide. More than 150 of the most sensational covers from this venerable if venal literary form are shown in glorious color, focusing on the period from 1940 to 1970, romance design's most fertile era.

The Look of Love features artwork and excerpts from titles such as Passion Flower, Kept Woman, Rendezvous in Lisbon, and Jungle Nurse. Along the way, it brings attention to the pioneers of the romance novel: cover artists such as Barye Phillips and Robert Maguire, who helped define the look of paperbacks in general, and Harlequin, the grand dame of romance publishers, with more than 100 million novels sold each year. McKnight-Trontz reveals the themes that typify both the story lines and the covers--hospital romance, the rich and raunchy, royalty, tropical paradises, Westerns, "taboo" relationships, pirates and warriors, and love triangles--resulting in this definitive compendium of camp.

REASON FOR READING: This was actually research for my term paper.

THOUGHTS: I don't think the author did any research beyond her own opinion. That said, I learned a lot about how and why the modern romance novel cover came to be. When McKnight-Trontz isn't trying to wax poetic the book is a pretty interesting read. When she did try to intuit why romances are read, and described their plots and characters, she might as well have stuck her foot in her mouth.

It was awesome to see the older covers. The titles were icky even back then.

MISCELLANEOUS: The Abortive Hussy?!? What does that mean?

RATING: 5/10 [Meh.]

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