Episode 3: "The Flame and the Flower"
Buckle up, buttercup – we’re doing this. This is happening. This episode we cover “The Flame and the Flower”, Kathleen Woodiwiss’ 1972 steaming pile of crap. This is the face that launched a thousand shits; the first bodice ripper. And it is awful. And we are furious at it.
This book contains intense scenes of sexual assault (the worst kind, it thinks it’s a ravishment but believe me, it’s stone cold rape.) It’s also got emotional abuse and some truly weird expressions of racism. Also it’s boring as hell Seriously, do not read it if you’re triggered by anything like that because this book is FULL OF IT and also terrible, so honestly don’t read it in general. Just listen to us drip scorn on it, you’ll be better off.
You can download the episode as an MP3 file by clicking HERE, or stream it below.
What should you read instead of this bullshit? I have a few suggestions:
Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
OKAY HEAR ME OUT. Yes, this book is probably more responsible than anything besides, like, The Birth of a Nation for a LOT OF SHIT, promoting the Lost Cause romantic racist monument poison. And yes, this book has AWFUL depictions of enslaved people (but unlike The Flame and the Flower it doesn't utterly delete them, so there's that.) But it's still a crackerjack read, y'all, and I would be seriously remiss if I didn't mention it here. Scarlett O'Hara is one of the great female literary characters OF ALL TIME. Plus my college roommate worked at the Margaret Mitchell House when we were living together and I can tell you so much gossip. So if you want to read a far, far better romance about a woman who's on again and off again with a guy who's kind of a dick and also there are plantation houses, this is the OG. Just know that it's bound in blood and make sure you read some other stuff too.
Through the Storm, by Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins is an amazing African American author who writes in several romance genres, including historical. (I KNOW, ballsy, right?) She's got a lot of books set during Reconstruction; I picked this one to highlight because the main female character was formerly enslaved but really you can't go wrong with her.
A Free Man of Color, by Barbara Hambly
This isn't a romance (it's the first in a series of mysteries) but it's a really well researched look into the large community of free people of color in New Orleans in the 1850's, transitioning from French to American control. Also I take any possible chance to rep my girl Barbara, who's one of my favorite authors notwithstanding that Star Wars ghost fucking book she wrote. (Oh who am I kidding; I like her all the more for that.)
I also made a playlist to express my feelings about The Flame and the Flower.