Barbara Bretton


The Way We Were

The year is 1983. Alexis and Krystle are locking shoulderpads for Blake Carrington's affections. Dynasty is the hottest show on television with Dallas a close second. Viewers tune in each week to watch how the other half lives and loves...and to sigh over the glitzy gowns and power suits worn by our beautiful heroines. It's a time of glamour and opulence and excess. Stocks are soaring and so are spirits as the Roaring Eighties promise to make all of our dreams come true.

Especially our dreams of romance. Love is big business in 1983 and romance novels are the reason. Even the Wall Street Journal agrees. It seems like every time you turn around, a new category romance line is being launched. (More about that next month.) But no matter how many new authors joined the ranks each month, when you said the words "romance novel," everyone immediately thought of Barbara Cartland.

Barbara Cartland with her big black false eyelashes and spun-sugar hair and pink ballgowns and her Pekingnese office companions. I'll admit I gnashed my teeth a time or two when it came to Dame Barbara's work habits. (When I lie down on a chaise, I fall asleep; Dame Barbara Cartland gets up with two more chapters under her belt.) And I rolled my eyes over the virginal heroines and chaste love scenes that were definitely not what the rest of us were writing..

But guess what? Even this cynical soul had to stand up and cheer at Romantic Times's Second Annual Booklovers Convention in April 1983 when Barbara Cartland (who was then over eighty years old) spoke to the crowd about love and romance, health foods and megavitamins. She was outspoken, intelligent, multi-faceted and downright fascinating.

Laugh if you will, but Barbara Cartland is still writing and still cashing those royalty checks and I say "More power to you, Dame Barbara!"" We should all be so lucky.

I took this photograph myself. No, you're not imagining the tiara and the throne. Guess you had to be there to believe it!


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