Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Me and Forever Amber

As a family we were all avid members of the public library and would make weekly visits to pick up our full quota.

Initially I was happy in the children's library: Enid Blyton, Leon Garfield, Malcolm Saville, Noel Stretfield (Ballet Shoes - definitely my favourite - so sad, so happy).  But by the age of 12 I was bored and keen to move on to the forbidden delights of the adult library.  Unfortunately you had to be 13 to join the 'big' library; after much special pleading from my parents (worn down by my sulking, whining and general surliness) I was allowed to move 'up' on the understanding that the Librarian had the right of veto over anything I borrowed .  It grieves me to say that 'she' could have starred in some awful cliché ridden comedy about librarians - does one actually exist already?  Anyway I think the idea of her intervention was to save me from myself and to stop me borrowing corrupting and salacious books.  Actually the dodgy books were the ones I read in  the library, quickly shoving them on the shelves when 'she' came by.

The great day came when 'she' was ill and the woman from the junior library stood in and I was able to borrow Forever Amber.  A bodice ripper of the first order (as you can see from the selection of covers) the book is set in the 17th century and tells how Amber moves up in society by marrying/having sex with increasingly powerful men, but all the time still longing for original love.

I had a quick look on the Internet and was delighted to find that it had been banned in several American states (it was written in 1944).  This quote is from  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forever_Amber_(novel)  '...The first was Massachusetts, whose attorney general cited 70 references to sexual intercourse, 39 illegitimate pregnancies, 7 abortions, and "10 descriptions of women undressing in front of men" as reasons for banning the novel.'  

 Now I remember it being a good read and a satisfactory introduction to Restoration England (well, better than my A Level textbook as it missed out the boring bits...), but I really don't remember the above.  I shall buy a copy and check to see if it is accurate.  
Kathleen Winsor - I salute you - great heroine, great book.

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