Firstly, happy birthday Elizabeth Taylor – I’ve had much joy from her books these last few months and have been very glad to join in with the centenary celebrations.

Alex is hosting this month’s read-along at Luvvie’s Musings and has come up with some interesting questions on the kind of books we read and where we stand on Purveyors of Twaddle! This is something I shall have to be careful about how I word it, because I don’t want to offend anyone’s favourite author – but I tend to think that many of us, in our younger years when we are still finding out about ourselves, are very fond of twaddle.


In my teens, which I remember hazily as a confusing and often unpleasant time, when I didn’t really know who I was or what I was doing (this was back in the wilds of the 1970s…. there’s a giveaway!) I progressed from solid reading of Enid Blyton and Narnia and then The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, to what I would probably not be able to read now. There was a lot of romantic, historical fiction – people like Mary Stewart, Evelyn Anthony, Nora Roberts and Georgette Heyer spring to mind. A lot of these were probably borrowed from my mother (who still reads much along the same lines, with Penny Vincenzi and Santa Montefiore being her current favourites) but looking back on them, I seem them as something I was reading as pure escapism – I often didn’t enjoy being a teenager much and they were a way of getting away from myself and my surroundings.

 (I have to insert here that I never stooped to Mills and Boons – and I would defend a lot of the authors I mention above as telling a good enough escapist story to get you through an awful day!)

ImageIf I went back to one of these stories now I probably would find they held no interest for me – and I imagine that compared with Corelli and co they’re probably quite light on the purple prose! But I feel they were a part of my growing up process and so I don’t want to diss them too much here.

So in answer to Alex’s question, no I don’t read twaddle secretly any more. As I get older, I want to concentrate on something good, with a little depth, that will stimulate me mentally, stay with me afterwards and that is well written/intelligent/enjoyable. I’m much less patient than I used to be and if I don’t enjoy it, it doesn’t get read. I haven’t read (and I won’t be reading) any of the 50 Shades books – from what I’ve heard about them, they’re badly written tripe and not worthy of the paper they’re printed on (sorry if you like them, but that’s just my opinion). For all her flowery language, someone like Corelli was literate and I would find her books less intellectually damaging than I would something like 50 Shades.

How does this tie in with “Angel”? Well, I enjoyed “Angel” very much (and will do a proper review later) and the portrayal of the novelist is fascinating. It’s how I think a lot of us might have imagined ourselves if we fantasised in our teens of being a famous lady writer. The character herself is riddled with ambition, single-mindedness and a desire for affection – the writing of books in itself doesn’t seem to be her main concern, more a way to express her emotions and become rich and loved, as there is no other way she can deal with her feelings. She is a purveyor of twaddle, albeit twaddle that is loved by a huge amount of women readers. Whether this is Elizabeth Taylor’s ironic comment on the kind of books that are much loved as against her own novels, which although very much appreciated by a select audience have never had the popular success she deserved, I’m not sure but I’ll think on this.

I’ll write more about Angel specifically later this month, but thanks to Alex for setting off these interesting thoughts!