August 2017 – Mad for Mather!
Having devoted last month’s My Favorite Things to Annie West, my current favorite category romance author, I found myself thinking back over the authors I read when I was a teen and who really rocked my world. One name came to mind immediately – Anne Mather.
In Australia, for most people when you say you write romance, they think you mean Mills and Boon (Harlequin), so omnipresent is that brand on our shelves. The M&B market dominance was even more powerful when I was a girl, and I can remember spending many a long hot summer holiday raiding the box of second-hand Mills and Boons that we’d got from the nearest book exchange.
I grew up in a tiny and at the time isolated farming hamlet, so even getting to the book exchange (secondhand book store) was a major effort of time and resources. But it was worth it when I curled up with a new book to me, if not new in the purest sense, and lost myself in the world of square-jawed and arrogant Spaniards and bossy upper-class British tycoons.
I actually wrote an MFT about my teenage M&B reading pleasures already. Here’s the link: http://annacampbell.com/my-favorite-things/2011-2/february-2011-those-long-hot-mills-and-boon-summers/
My joy was complete when the box included some books by my writing heroine at the time, Anne Mather. Right through the 1970s, I devoured everything she could write – and my goodness, she was prolific. I looked her up on Wikipedia and the list of books under her name is astonishing. Check it out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Mather Impressive, huh?
Even the sight of these old covers (as far as I could, I picked the covers from the editions I read) is enough to give me a remembered thrill. Aren’t they amazing? Right down to modern for the time makeup on Devil in Velvet. And aren’t those titles so evocative? I must say I much prefer them to the current batch of Greek Tycoon’s Disobedient Mistress-type title that puts everything out there in terms of hooks. Anne Mather’s titles are so poetic – The Distant Sound of Thunder, Waterfalls of the Moon, Silver Fruit Upon Silver Trees. Doesn’t the mere sound of those conjure up the image of romance?
So why did I love Anne Mather so much when I was a teenager? I have to admit the fact that they were very sexy for the time certainly helped. There was no doubting the immediate physical passion between the arrogant, hot-blooded hero and the usually innocent young heroine. Passion was definitely king in these stories – and sometimes passion had to overcome huge barriers. I vaguely remember one where the hero was training for the priesthood – not a natural vocation for an Anne Mather hero! But even when there was no actual consummation in the pages of her stories, she wrote the most marvelous sexual tension. The pages sizzled. Emotions were tumultuous. These people fell in love so powerfully that the world moved! Just what a teenage girl wants from a book!
It’s so long ago that I don’t remember a lot of the details of the plots, although I read and re-read my favorites over and over. I’m sure that if I picked one of those up now, I’d recall the story fairly quickly. But here’s a selection of some of the Anne Mather books that really stand out in my memory.
The High Valley (1971) featured a South American revolutionary falling in love with a young Englishwoman (her heroines were always English, from memory, and while unworldly, they were usually pretty gutsy) held captive by a gang of political rivals.
Scorpions’ Dance (1978) featured a couple forced into an unwilling marriage – he goes away to become a heroic doctor in South America (not all of them were South American, I wonder why those are the ones I remember most vividly) and then comes back to claim her, with sparks flying everywhere.
Who Rides the Tiger had the heroine trapping the hero into marriage and them working through his anger as an alpha male having his power stolen from him. That was a daring plot back in 1970. I can still remember thinking the love scene in that one was pretty steamy! I wonder what I’d think now.
Leopard in the Snow (1974) had a wounded racing car driver hero with a leopard for a pet who hunkers down somewhere like Cumbria or Northumberland to nurse his bitterness, only to be ripped out of his self pity by the arrival of a feisty English miss who won’t let him hide from the world. That one was a corker of a story and I’m not surprised they later filmed it, although I never saw the movie.
Master of Zaracas (1970) had a passionate Mexican hero who falls in love with the daughter of an English archeologist who is excavating on his land. I remember that one had a great kiss scene!
I wasn’t alone in loving Anne Mather back then – I’m sure I read somewhere that she was the most popular Mills and Boon writer in the 1970s. Clearly a lot of other readers responded to the volcanic passions in her stories. She was born Mildred Grieverson in England in 1946 and she’s still writing today.
I really believe that these intense stories of people carried away by love, much against good sense and what they think is their own interest, helped to form me as a writer. They certainly taught me the power of a great love story.
I wonder what I’d make of these stories now. I’m very sad to report that in my childhood home, I had all my favorite Anne Mathers in a box under my bed, where I continued to revisit them right up into my 20s. But one tragic day, my mother had a mad clean-up and threw them out. I still feel the pain!
Anyway, I can’t resist sharing a few more of those classic covers. They really take me back to when I was a kid and discovering just how wonderful the romance genre could be.
- July 2017 – Go West for Great Reading, Young Man (and Woman!)
- June 2017 – The Historical Romance Retreat Was a Huge Treat
- May 2017 – Beautiful Banff!
- April 2017 – A High Mortality Rate in Midsomer
- March 2017 – I Struck Gold with Cormoran Strike
- February 2017 – Crazy for Christie!
- January 2017 – Call Me for Call the Midwife
- December 2016 – Recent Revelatory Reading Part 4
- November 2016 – Recent Revelatory Reading Part 3
- October 2016 – Recent Revelatory Reading Part 2
- September 2016 – Recent Revelatory Reading Part 1
- August 2016 – Amazing Maisie!
- July 2016 – (Upstate) New York! New York!
- June 2016 – Calling for Cadfael!
- May 2016 – Raving about Rickman!
- April 2016 – The Queen of Romance!
- March 2016 – Ground Control to Major Tom
- February 2016 – Aunt Dimity Dazzles
- January 2016 – This Adventurous Life Part 2
- December 2015 – This Adventurous Life Part 1
- November 2015 – There Will Be Trouble Ahead
- October 2015 – It Would Be a Crime to Miss the Sir Robert Carey Mysteries!
- September 2015 – Absolute Vicky Bliss!
- August 2015 – Lady Is Excellent!
- July 2015 – Fresh as a Daisy!
- June 2015 – We Seek Him Here, We Seek Him There
- May 2015 – What Regency Charmers!
- April 2015 – It’s For the Birds (part 2) – the other guys
- March 2015 – It’s For the Birds (part 1) – black and white beauties
- February 2015 – Romance, History, Ghosts Are My Favorite Things
- January 2015 – There’s Got to be Heyer Love! (Part 2)
- December 2014 – There’s Got to be Heyer Love! (Part 1)
- November 2014 – Home, Home on the Range
- October 2014 – I Like it Hot!
- September 2014 – A Tribute to Lauren Bacall
- August 2014 – I’d Get Up With The Lark to Watch This
- July 2014 – Garbo Laughed – and so do I!
- June 2014 – Blast from the Past
- May 2014 – Phryne’s Roaring 20s
- April 2014 – Peabody + Peters = Egyptian Magic
- March 2014 – Cool Cats!
- February 2014 – It’s No Mystery
- January 2014 – Thank You, Mr O’Toole
- December 2013 – The Sea, The Sea
- November 2013 – Makes You Proud to be a Romance Writer
- October 2013 – The Queen of the Sea (Part 2)
- September 2013 – The Queen of the Sea (Part 1)
- August 2013 – French Kisses to Bruno
- July 2013 – Elementary, My Dear Sherlock
- June 2013 – The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring, Tra La… (Part 2)
- May 2013 – The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring, Tra La… (Part 1)
- April 2013 – ARRC is Definitely One of My Favourite Things!
- March 2013 – Francis is a Frontrunner
- February 2013 – Weekend at the Windsor
- January 2013 – China in England in Melbourne
- December 2012 – GenreCon Rocks!
- November 2012 – Pandora Rocks the Flying Dutchman
- October 2012 – Just on the QT…
- September 2012 – Worth Every Penny
- August 2012 – 80s Hair Bands Galore (Pt 2)
- July 2012 – 80s Hair Bands Galore (Pt 1)
- June 2012 – Swans + Lake = Magic
- May 2012 – Enchanted by the Enchanted Forest
- April 2012 – Klimt Every Mountain
- March 2012 – Better Leighton Than Never (Pt 2)
- February 2012 – Better Leighton Than Never (Pt 1)
- January 2012 – Hitchcock is Hot (Pt 2)
- December 2011 – Hitchcock is Hot (Pt 1)
- November 2011 – I Carried a Watermelon…
- October 2011 – Fun in Tropical Melbourne
- September 2011 – Ghosts are the New Black
- August 2011 – Jumping for Judy!
- July 2011 – I Wish I Had Haddon Hall
- June 2011 – I Wish I Own Iona!
- May 2011 – I Want to be the Next Enid Blyton
- April 2011 – Attenborough is THE MAN!
- March 2011 – Speaking Frankly
- February 2011 – Those Long, Hot Mills and Boon Summers…
- January 2011 – Memories of Aotearoa
- December 2010 – I Do Love a Good Show Tune (Pt 4)
- November 2010 – I Do Love a Good Show Tune (Pt 3)
- October 2010 – I Do Love a Good Show Tune (Pt 2)
- September 2010 – We Interrupt our Scheduled Program…
- August 2010 – I Do Love a Good Show Tune (Pt 1)
- July 2010 – Man, That’s Epic!
- June 2010 – What the DIckens!
- May 2010 – Hey, Mr Postman!
- April 2010 – Postcards From the Edge
- March 2010 – A Castle in Spain
- February 2010 – Ravishing Rottnest Island
- January 2010 – The Wonderful West
- December 2009 – More Happy Snaps
- November 2009 – Happy Snaps
- October 2009 – A Big Country Needs a Big Story
- September 2009 – Horsies!
- August 2009 -The National Gallery of Art Rocks!
- July 2009 – All Roads Lead To Rome
- June 2009 – I Wanna Dance in the Pan Pacifics with Fran!
- May 2009 – A River that Never Runs Dry
- April 2009 – The Lust of the Mohicans
- March 2009 – Big Easy To Love
- February 2009 – My Heart’s In The Highlands
- January 2009 – You Kent Do Better Than This!
- December 2008 – A Salute to Anne Stuart
- November 2008 – Scaling the TBR Pile
- October 2008 – Conference Time!
- September 2008 – I left My Heart in San Francisco
- August 2008 – Favorite Research Books (part 3)
- July 2008 – Favorite Research Books (part 2)
- June 2008 – Favorite Research Books (part 1)
- May 2008 – My Favorite Comfort Read
- April 2008 – I’m Ready For My Close-up, Mr DeMille!
- March 2008 – Can You Hear What I Hear?
- February 2008 – 10 Things I Love about 10 Things I Hate About You
- January 2008 – Think I’m Turning Japanese!
- December 2007 – Happy Talk
- November 2007 – The Terrific Trio
- October 2007 – The Fridge of Inspiration
- September 2007 – Move Over, Darling!
- August 2007 – It’s the Chalice from the Palace in Dallice…
- July 2007 – Anticipation: Is It the Best Part of Travel?
- June 2007 – Bad Luck That Really Wasn’t So Bad After All
- May 2007 – A Movie That Steals Your Heart
- April 2007 – The Romance Community
- March 2007 – The Pleasures of Re-Reading
- February 2007 – Favorite Blogs (part 2)
- January 2007 – Favorite Blogs