The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

September 8, 2016

September 8, 1903

Jane Arbor (September 8 1903 to 4 February 4, 1994) wrote romance novels. Lots. And apparently cherished her privacy; Jane Arbor is a pseudonym and there seems to be little info about the author herself. She does have a Paris Review article, that finds the small facts we know, amusing.

Arbor... wrote fifty-seven romance novels in her day, all of them published by Mills & Boon, a UK imprint of Harlequin. Even without their florid illustrations, their titles are terrific; they sound variously like managerial concepts, short-lived sitcoms, or Yankee Candle scents. In addition to those in the slideshow above, here are a few favorites: 

Ladder of Understanding (1949)
My Surgeon Neighbor (1950)
Memory Serves My Love (1952)
Jasmine Harvest (1963)
The Feathered Shaft (1970)
Two Pins in a Fountain (1977)

But Arbor’s true talent was in naming her characters, a gift that extended to the author herself. Jane Arbor is a pseudonym—and a pretty perfect one, dainty without lacking in heft and authority—for the comparatively ungainly Eileen Norah Owbridge. Arbor had a knack for naming her heroines’ love interests, all of whom have strong but subtle appellations of three or four syllables. They’re impossibly perfect names that seem hewn from granite, as are, presumably, the abdomens of the men they belong to. Names like Erie Nash. Dale Ransome. Elyot Vance. Lewis Craig. Mark Triton. Raoul Leduc. Grandmere Cordet....

Without further prologue, then: the flap copy for three of Arbor’s novels.

The Growing Moon:

Cesare Vidal’s attitude left Dinah silently fuming. He’d shifted responsibility for the twins to her shoulders and apparently had no interest in them—even though they were his cousins.

Maybe she should have been flattered, but she would have gladly exchanged his airy confidence in her for a little old-fashioned male concern. Why couldn’t she be given a trace of the solicitude he showed for Princess Francia Lagna?

One Brief Sweet Hour:

The luxurious Caribbean cruise was a onetime extravagance—supposed to help Lauren forget the past and build a new life. Instead it brought her face to face with the unhappiest part of that past—Dale Ransome. He was as bitter and hurtful as ever. All Lauren wanted to do then was return home—but she stayed to help Dale’s young brother with a problem. She never dreamed it would help solve her own

Roman Summer:

Teaching an attractive teenager to love Rome didn’t seem a particularly arduous job. But for Ruth it meant having to fight her old attraction to Erie Nash, who had said, “The folly of marriage is a heady, distracting adventure I don't mean to afford.”....

And I have a quote from Arbor, which appears in Two pins in a fountain (1977). The heroine
surveys her surroundings:

There were fruit stalls piled high with the seasonal peaches and grapes from the south. There was a skinny cat (why were French cats always so narrow?) threading its safe way among all the treading feet. ...

This last is gracefully observed.

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