Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Heard about in: Die for Love, by Elizabeth Peters

Apparently this book got edited down to one-fifth of its original length, for which I can only say praise God (though it must be thrilling for Forever Amber scholars to get their hands on the original manuscript, if it still exists). I cannot imagine how she could have gotten four times that much again into the silly book. Amber gets married FOUR TIMES over the course of the book and has lots of silly affairs and moans a lot about how her true love Bruce Carlton thinks she’s too trashy for him which is a bit rich I think considering that he’s sleeping around as much as she is and repeatedly shows himself incapable of resisting her trashy charms. However, I would not marry her either because a) I would not want to catch a nasty disease; and b) she is damn annoying and although he keeps assuring her he will never, never, never marry her, she still keeps bursting into tears and smacking him in the face every time the subject comes up.

In case this all sounds like I didn’t enjoy Forever Amber, let me just assure you, that is completely not the case. I read it on Saturday from start to finish, with a short break in between to read Purple Hibiscus (better quality novel but sad) and frequent pauses to update my family on Amber’s latest doings, and it was most absorbing. My family members kept asking me what she was up to if I didn’t let them know with a promptness, and towards the end Indie Sister and I were sitting on one of the couches reading the last few pages over each other’s shoulders (starting with the naked dress, the details of which I was not explaining to Indie Sister with adequate eloquence, and going on until she sails off at the end).

Just to give you an idea of how this book goes, I was explaining to my cousin and my mother how Amber had run away from her tedious rural life with her true love Bruce Carlton and how she had gotten pregnant and married (not to her true love) and dumped in the debtor’s prison and placed under the protection of Black Jack the Highwayman who made her help with his heists and was never very much use at paying off her debts, and my cousin said, “That can’t all have happened! You’re not even a quarter of the way through the book!”

I was, but it did.

Apparently this was written by an American (or Canadian?) lady during World War II, and apparently it got banned in several states and the Catholic Church had some severe things to say about it; and because it is an old and classic and genre-creating historical romance, and because actually it is not badly written (the descriptions of Amber’s clothes are yummy), I feel justified in assuring myself that I am not in fact a trashy-romance-novel-reader, but an Ardent Lover of the Classics.

P.S. My grandmother remembers when this book came out. She didn’t read it because it was too scandalous and she was a good Catholic girl (having embraced the one true faith).

6 thoughts on “Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

  1. Pingback: Purple Hibiscus, by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie « Jenny’s Books

  2. Forever Amber was a good book. i read it in less than a week. Amber is quite the character and does not care about nobody but herself. she NEVER gave up on Bruce lord thats probably why she turned out the way she did. and every body back in the days lived for sex as this book so greatly characterized. But all in all the book is a VERY worthwhile read!!

  3. I LOVED this book, and hated Amber with a passion. She is just so whiny and spoiled and though I didn’t like her, I had an amazing time reading about all her exploits. It really was a page turner for me, and though it was long, I ate it up rather quickly. I need to read this one again! I also adhere to the rule that this one was not a trashy romance novel, but a classic.

  4. I own this and have heard it rated as some of the finest trash available. Ach, so tempting! I’m delighted you enjoyed it and am expecting to succumb to the same mix of delight and irritation and sceptical, hooting laughter when reading it.

  5. This sounds like MOLL FLANDERS, only moderner. Have you read that? Moll also sleeps with scads and scads of people and has dozens of children, and this one time, she accidentally marries her own brother. And after every lover, she swears she’s gonna go straight–right after she takes care of this one bit of unfinished business…

    I read that in a night, too, even though it’s a dense classic with no chapter breaks or pauses.

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