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A few questions from a newcomer to the genre
#1
All questions are in regards to the 60's & 70's era.

I've only just begun reading my first gothic romance book, "Kirkland Revels," by Victoria Holt, and I'm hooked. And I am already thinking about more books of the same time and genre.

I have a few questions that I am sure can be answered on this forum.

1) Please relieve my fear: As with many things -- books in this case -- you've read one, you've read them all. Is this true?

2) I am captivated by the "traditional" covers. Why am I compelled to collect them all?

3) I'm alright with the supernatural, but I'd rather not read books that contain references to tarot cards, ouija boards, demons, and other references to witchcraft. I believe a story can be eerie and captivating without all that. How prevalent is witchcraft in these books?

I'd appreciate any responses.
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#2
I have a few questions that I am sure can be answered on this forum.

1) Please relieve my fear: As with many things -- books in this case -- you've read one, you've read them all. Is this true?
  • No. The elements of a gothic romance become familiar over time, but the authors combine them in different ways, so I do not think you will tire of them.


2) I am captivated by the "traditional" covers. Why am I compelled to collect them all?
  • They are beautiful works of art.


3) I'm alright with the supernatural, but I'd rather not read books that contain references to tarot cards, ouija boards, demons, and other references to witchcraft. I believe a story can be eerie and captivating without all that. How prevalent is witchcraft in these books?
  • The gothic romances of the 70s and 80s do not typically include these elements. They are more character-driven, as in "which potential hero can the heroine trust?"


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#3
Gothiclover has answered your post so adroitly that anything I could add would be redundant. But I can agree with the answers and thereby encourage you to read more Gothics.

You'll quickly learn which authors please you and which to avoid; you develop a sense and can often tell from the first few pages whether a book will win you over or not.

As for "read one, read them all," it's true that Gothics tend to share many elements in common; after all, this is what defines the genre. But among the best writers, there is a world of difference within those parameters.

I've been reading Gothics for a few years and have only come across the elements of witchcraft/diabolism you describe two or three times, and books containing those elements usually make it quite clear on the cover. For a while there was even a sub-genre of "Satanic Gothics" advertised as such. But most novels called "Gothic Romance" or "Romantic Suspense" do not contain these elements. The word "Gothic" (sometimes spelled "Gothick") has nothing to do with the modern "Goth" movement (associated with witchcraft or Wicca, vampires, werewolves, etc.) but rather with the "Gothic" aspect of medieval architecture; the earliest authors in the genre, Horace Walpole, Anne Radliffe, et al., established the traditional settings of crumbling old castles, mansions, monasteries, and other remote, dramatic buildings.

So read on, there's a lot to enjoy in this corner of literature!
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#4
Regarding the cover art, yes, it is beautiful. But as a male, I'm certain I am seeing it differently than how a female sees it. I'm not exactly sure what I mean, as I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea (hey, I'm happily married), but there is something about the beautiful woman desperately fleeing the castle/ house with the frightened expression on her face, glancing back.

Anyone else feel like this? Perhaps someone else can explain it better.
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#5
(07-20-2010, 11:05 PM)lostintwilight Wrote: Regarding the cover art, yes, it is beautiful. But as a male, I'm certain I am seeing it differently than how a female sees it. I'm not exactly sure what I mean, as I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea (hey, I'm happily married), but there is something about the beautiful woman desperately fleeing the castle/ house with the frightened expression on her face, glancing back.

Anyone else feel like this? Perhaps someone else can explain it better.

Perhaps it is the foreknowledge that the story inside the book will solve her problem positively. Reading the book effects this, and the happy ending provides a sense of satisfaction that the reader has rescued the heroine from her plight.
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#6
This theory is absolutely correct, I'm sure, for someone that knows these books generally have a happy ending. But I was unaware of that; I am still reading my first, so my perception and the effect the covers have on me is still yet to be elaborated upon.
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#7
To evaluate your cover response less deeply: the woman is beautiful, dressed in a beautiful romantic gown, and she is successfully fleeting from danger, suggesting a strong heroine. No one is typically chasing her, but they are perhaps watching at a safe distance from that lighted window. The house/castle is opulent, mysterious, and a place one might wish to explore, but it may be dangerous to do so. The book will allow you to enter it...from a safe distance. The setting is dramatic, often filled with darkness, fog, lightning, and ocean cliffs, again suggesting danger and high drama. One or more of these elements may be drawing you to the picture and thus to the story within.

FYI, 99.9% of the books sold as "romance" have a happy ending.
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#8
Lostintwilight, I am also a male, and I have been obsessed with the iconic imagery on Gothic romance covers since about 1969, I was not even a teenager yet. Most of it comes from watching Dark Shadows. At that time, Gothic paperbacks were the rage so they were everywhere. Kirkland Revels is one of my all time favorites. I just re-read it a few months ago. But I also like to read some of the cheap/quickies. I think Pinnacle books had a line called Queen Sized Gothics...they had bigger print and more pages so they looked like you were getting a lot of bang for your buck...the ones I have read were very melodramatic and over the top. As mentioned by other posts, the majority of Gothics from the 60s and 70s did not have occult and/or witchcraft elements. I, however, wish there were more that did. I tinker with writing Gothics ever now and then and always try to work Tarot readings into the story...I guess because I collect and read Tarot decks.
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#9
Another good theory, GothicLover.

While we're on this subject of covers, what is the title of the book used as the header of this forum? Of the covers I've seen thus far, that is the best. I love the castle built atop the mountain, and the girl, of course, is beautiful. I should like to read that book very much.
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#10
(07-21-2010, 09:46 PM)lostintwilight Wrote: While we're on this subject of covers, what is the title of the book used as the header of this forum? Of the covers I've seen thus far, that is the best. I love the castle built atop the mountain, and the girl, of course, is beautiful. I should like to read that book very much.

http://www.gothicromanceforum.com/attachment.php?aid=38
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