Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Victoria Holt by Any Other Name

Victoria Holt, the pen name of Eleanor Hibbert, has been credited as the inventor (and Queen) of romantic suspense, but she wrote under at least eight other names as well -- and some sources say over fifteen. She dominated the historical romance genre as Philippa Carr. She wrote royal intrigue as Jean Plaidy. Hibbert was incredibly prolific; she wrote over 30 books under the pen name Victoria Holt alone and sold more than 100 million books during her lifetime. Most writers will never equal her success.  

I am most familiar with her work as Victoria Holt. Her books are considered to be somewhat mindless escapes, but that's nice once in a while. There is a certain sameness to her plots, yet they never fail to captivate me and keep me reading. Her heroines are often naive, intelligent young women left alone in the world and in desperate straits. Often, all they have are principles and good sense. The heroes are usually rich, powerful men who can have any woman they want, yet they want the sweet, innocent girl they can't have. Usually the thing that stands between them is class distinction.

One thing I don't like about Victoria Holt books is that they often start in early childhood and linger there for the first one hundred pages. She also spent too little time with the great male characters she created. There are things she did as a writer that would never be allowed today. In The Demon Lover, (spoiler alert), the "hero" actually kidnaps the heroine, drugs her, rapes her repeatedly, sets her free, and then horror of all horrors -- she marries him at the end of the book!! Can you imagine a publisher touching that today?

Have you ever read Victoria Holt? If so, what's your favorite book? If you're not a Victoria Holt fan, what is it you don't like about her books? And, if you've never read her, do you plan to?

Here is a snippet from one of my favorite reviews of a Victoria Holt story. This one is for The Legend of the Seventh Virgin and it is posted at All Readers. I think you'll be able to spot the items I find amusing. Naturally, a woman would want to be the one woman that man can't live without -- the woman he'd give up all others for.

Main Male Character
Profession/status: - Prince/Nobleman/King - wealthy
Age/status: - 20's-30's
Eccentric/mental: Yes
Eccentric: - deluded - wild
How sexual is this person? - over 1,000,000 served
How romantic is this person? - as romantic as a root canal
Sex makes him - more demanding
Sex has good effect on him Yes
Sex makes him - confident
Sex has bad effect on him Yes
How sensitive is this character? - mean, arrogant
Sense of humor - Cynical sense of humor
Intelligence - Average intelligence
Physique - average physique


Jessica Bell said...

I haven't read anything by either name, but her work certainly sounds interesting! Thanks for following my blog. Now I'm off to check out your book! :o)

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Wow, thanks Jessica! I appreciate the follow and the comment -- and the fact that you're interested in my book!

Shirley Wells said...

I'm most familiar with her Victoria Holt work too. Loved her books. Hmm, might have to have a re-read before I could say which my favourite was. :)

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Shirley, thanks. I have trouble choosing a favorite too. I really like The Shivering Sands and Manfreya in the Morning, but I like most of her titles. Very hard to choose a favorite.

Unknown said...

It's not a genre I read much so I haven't heard of her. However, it's so impressive that she has written so much. I'm jealous.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

I know what you mean. I'm jealous too, not only because she wrote so much, but she sold so much. Her romantic suspense novels usually have a great mystery in them. I know you like mysteries. Give "The Shivering Sands" a try some day. I think you'd like that one.

Maeve Frazier said...

I have read Victoria Holt. I haven't read her books in a while. I'll have to revisit.

Doralynn said...

Hi Maeve. They're a great escape. I checked out several from the library recently. I just finished The Devil on Horseback. It's not one of her best, but I really enjoyed it. Thanks!

J.L. Campbell said...

Haven't read anything under either of her names. Another author to check out.

I looked at the comments and realized that I still haven't read your book yet. I know it's the fast-paced variety that I like and I now have a kindle, so I should get moving on that.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

I'm so glad you finally got your Kindle! I've been meaning to ask you about that.

Victoria Holt is as slow as a turtle, but I love her books. My favorite is Mistress of Mellyn. It's similar to Jane Eyre... which is probably my favorite book.

I hope you enjoy SWS. I wish I could redo the sex scene. It's pretty awful, but my editor kept sending it back telling me it was boring. It went from one paragraph -- with everything left to the reader's imagination -- to several pages of poorly-written smut. It's pretty tame, especially when compared to writers like Tami Hoag, but for me, (a sad example of a Christian), it's pretty racy.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

By all means, Pride of the Peacock is my favorite Victoria Holt novel... Never read one that I did not enjoy.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Thanks for telling me about Pride of the Peacock. I'd missed that one. I just ordered it from Amazon.