In May, our book club selection was The Windflower by Laura London, a historical romance originally published in 1984 and re-released this year for its 30th anniversary. The Windflower is one of the most beloved historical romances, and is at the top of many reader favorite lists. London, the pen name for authors Sharon and Tom Curtis, took every expected historical trope, from the menacing hero to the ingenue heroine, and subverted and twisted them at the last moment, so the story and the characters never go where you might expect.
Earlier this week, my reading app on my phone wasn't saving my notes and bookmarks, and this was making me a little batty. I use the notes for review writing, but in the case of The Windflower, I use them to recall and isolate lines that I love and want to re-read. When I was preparing for the book club discussion, I couldn't find any of my bookmarks and was, to be honest, really upset about it. I reloaded the app and that restored the bookmark function, thank heavens, but then I lost another hour or two re-reading the book. The Windflower is really sticky that way—you start reading, and whoosh. There goes three hours!
So I thought I might share my favorite moments with the heroine from The Windflower. Her name is Merry, and every time I read the book, I notice something different about her. I can't rank these in any sequential order, though. That's asking too much of me!
Merry Patricia Wilding was sitting on a cobblestone wall, sketching three rutabagas and daydreaming about the unicorn.
If you know the book, you know that's the first line. It doesn't fully make sense until the very end of the book, but it does make it easy to judge the heroine immediately as somewhat fanciful and useless, sitting on a wall, daydreaming and sketching rutabagas of all things. But Merry is a surprising heroine, just like the first line of the book.
That is what frightened Merry the most - his indifference. He didn't look evil, only as if he did not care.
Merry meets Rand Morgan, the pirate captain, who has many secrets and many connections. He's not a hero, but he's not entirely a villain, either. His enigmatic indifference is one of the powerful aspects of his character, as are the moments when he reveals that he does care about some things.
There were probably a hundred spunky things that a woman of spirit would have thought of to say, and all she had managed to do was plead pitifully for her life. In a bitter epiphany she saw herself as she was, an inexperienced, awkward teenager, endowed with more imagination than poise.
Merry's not a spunky heroine of spirit - yet. She might be in later chapters, but in the beginning, she's not. But she is strong and her strength shows, especially when she accurately evaluates herself in this scene. And if she'd been spirited and spunky, she'd probably have ended up dead much sooner.
Merry dropped her forehead into her open palm.
Gotta love a heroine who face palms.
Merry had hardly spent her life pining to fire artillery, but there aren't many people who'll turn down the kind of chance to do it just once without hurting anyone.
From firing the cannon aboard a pirate ship, it's a short slide to adventure and mayhem.
Rand Morgan: "One must suffer a little adversity if one wants to be interesting."
Cat: "Damn it, Rand. Does she have to be interesting?"
Yes, and also yes.
Merry: "It's hard work being a swashbuckler. How do you ravishers always make this look so easy?"
Merry at the end of the book is just marvelous—the whole book is marvelous, really. If you haven't tried it, I hope you'll find a copy, and find your own favorite lines within it.
Have you read The Windflower? Did you like it? What lines were most memorable for you?
Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blogSmart Bitches, Trashy BooksShe loves talking with romance readers, and hopes you'll share your new favorite romance reading recommendations. You can find her onTwitteror on her couch, most likely with her eyeglasses turned toward a book.