Last week I found a few new Nora Roberts reprints someone had donated to the community lending library. It was nice to see some titles I hadn’t read in years. I do love the MacGregor clan. Silhouette/Harlequin books must do a nice business in reprints. Up to a point, I had read everything Roberts had ever written. My daughter-in-law and I maintained an almost complete collection.
When I read a historical novel, the reading usually flows. No matter when the book was written, and whatever the period in question, things like clothes and living conditions and morals interest me very much. I never stop to compare them to what we have today because they are so far removed from today’s world.
In re-re-(re-?) reading the Nora romances first written in the 1980’s or ‘90’s, I was really struck by the changes. What we wear isn’t too different, but the hairstyles are a bit more natural. Bus, car and train travel haven’t changed, but there’s no way now that anyone can catch the the next plane to the coast – or to anywhere else in this era of background checks and extreme security. There’s also no way lovers can meet or part in tears at the gate.
In novels these days, no one uses a typewriter. In novels these days, no one searches for change for the pay phone. In novels these days, no one lights up a cigarette. In novels these days, no chapter just ends with a kiss and the romantic couple moving behind closed doors: the doors stay open and we get a detailed play by play.
I don’t read too much Nora now, especially since she’s gotten into the horror/romance genre. I do still read the J.D. Robb books. I really like the Eve Dallas and Roarke characters, and some of their friends are hilarious. The books are set in the future, and though some of the new things like soda in tubes and flying cars are fun, those books too are starting to get a bit too paint-by-number.
Do you think that perhaps prolific writers like Nora Roberts just seethe with ideas for new books? With over two hundred books to her credit, I think it’s time for Nora to put away her writing tools and retire to Ireland before her work becomes too formulaic and her reputation begins to tarnish. I’ll continue to enjoy re-reading her earlier novels.