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The Flame and the Flower (The Birmingham Family) Mass Market Paperback – August 28, 2007

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Product Details

  • Series: The Birmingham Family (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Avon; Reissue edition (August 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380005255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380005253
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (440 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“A legend.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“A phenemenon.” (New York Times)

“The queen of historical romance.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

About the Author

(1939 - 2007) Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, creator of the modern historical romance, died July 6, 2007 in Minnesota. She had just turned 68. Her attorney, William Messerlie, said that she died after a long illness.

Born on June 3, 1939 in Alexandria, Louisiana, Mrs. Woodiwiss was the youngest of eight siblings. She long relished creating original narratives, and by age six was telling herself stories at night to help herself fall asleep. At age 16, she met U.S. Air Force Second Lieutenant Ross Woodiwiss at a dance, and they married the following year. She wrote her first book in longhand while living at a military outpost in Japan.

Woodiwiss is credited with the invention of the modern historical romance novel: in 1972, she released The Flame and the Flower, an instant New York Times bestseller, creating literary precedent. The Flame and the Flower revolutionized mainstream publishing, featuring an epic historical romance with a strong heroine and impassioned sex scenes. "Kathleeen E. Woodiwiss is the founding mother of the historical romance genre," says Carrie Feron, vice president/editorial director of William Morrow and Avon Books, imprints of HarperCollins Publishers. Feron, who has been Woodiwiss's editor for 13 years, continues, "Avon Books is proud to have been Kathleen's sole publishing partner for her paperbacks and hardcover novels for more than three decades." Avon Books, a leader in the historical romance genre to this day, remains Mrs. Woodiwiss's original and only paperback publisher; William Morrow, Avon's sister company, publishes Mrs. Woodiwiss's hardcovers.

The Flame and the Flower was rejected by agents and hardcover publishers, who deemed it as "too long" at 600 pages. Rather than follow the advice of the rejection letters and rewrite the novel, Mrs. Woodiwiss instead submitted it to paperback publishers. The first publisher on her list, Avon, quickly purchased the novel and arranged an initial 500,000 print run. The novel sold over 2.3 million copies in its first four years of publication.

The success of this novel prompted a new style of writing romance, concentrating primarily on historical fiction tracking the monogamous relationship between a helpless heroines and the hero who rescued her, even if he had been the one to place her in danger. The romance novels which followed in her example featured longer plots, more controversial situations and characters, and more intimate and steamy sex scenes.

"Her words engendered an incredible passion among readers," notes Feron. Bestselling author Julia Quinn agrees, saying, "Woodiwiss made women want to read. She gave them an alternative to Westerns and hard-boiled police procedurals. When I was growing up, I saw my mother and grandmother reading and enjoying romances, and when I was old enough to read them myself, I felt as if I had been admitted into a special sisterhood of reading women."

New York Times bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips, a leading voice in the women's fiction arena, says, "We all owe our careers to her. She opened the world of romance to us as readers. She created a career for us to go into."

The pioneering author has written 13 novels over the course of 35 years, all New York Times bestsellers. Kathleen E. Woodiwiss's final literary work, the upcoming Everlasing, will be published by William Morrow in October 2007. "Everlasting is Kathleen's final gift to her fans," notes Feron.

Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, who was predeceased by her husband and son Dorren, is survived by sons Sean and Heath, and numerous grandchildren.

Customer Reviews

I read this book at age 15 for the first time some 20 years ago.
I hate books where the hero and heroine falls in love and you don't know how the heck they manage to do that with so little time.
A wonderful story with romance, humor, drama, love scenes that make you do mmmm.
Dina Flores

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

290 of 309 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 13, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm astonished by the amateur reviewers who aren't intelligent enough to read and analyze this book within the context of the time during which it was written. It was written in 1972, it was one of the first times women were allowed to read about sex outside of male pornography, and it was before the darkest and most delicious of female fantasies were sanitized by the modern scourge of "political correctness". It's immensely readable and the prose isn't purple, it's excellent writing. Perhaps Brandon should have been redeemed sooner; perhaps Heather should have displayed more spine, but within the historical setting of 1799 and given the age of the characters (17 & 35), it's actually probably more accurate than many of the romances written today where all the young misses are feisty and all the gents are enlightened. I first read the book when I was 15. I'm 39 now and still have trouble putting it down whenever I pick it up. As someone else so wisely said, it was written to be enjoyed, not analyzed. And I will never understand the readers/women who claim to be feminists, yet want to censor other women's fantasies as part of your political agenda. As a woman and a feminist, I'll read whatever I please, thank you, and that includes this marvelous classic.
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64 of 74 people found the following review helpful By K. Brown on September 30, 1999
Format: Audio Cassette Verified Purchase
I've read all the reviews and respect all the varying opinions, but I think the ones that slam this book, criticize the grammar and the characterizations are really missing the whole essence of this book. How someone can read this and not fall in love with Heather and Brandon, even a little bit, is beyond me. The rape scene bothers some people, I can understand that. I don't want my daughter reading a book and thinking that is okay either. The hero makes a BIG mistake, yes, and he realizes that. He also grows a lot, too. As does the heroine, who I'm tired of everyone saying how whiney and pitiful she was. She was not. She was soft and sweet and niave, which is a refreshing change from the feminists definition of what a woman should be nowadays. I think Kathleen Woodiwiss has a gift for making her characters seem so real you feel like you know them personally and intimately. I've yet to read an author in any genre of fiction who can match her ability. I read romance for the light-heartedness and warm fuzzy feelings you get when they confess their undying love for each other, not to analyze every word, punctuation, or stero-typed character. If you are looking for an historical romance to sweep you away, try this. I loved it when I read 10+ years ago and still enjoy it each time I read it, at least once a year. The Flame and the Flower will make you laugh and cry and want more from Ms. Woodiwiss.
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57 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Neilisa on July 16, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is such a great story but you may find it hard to like the characters. The basic plot is this: Heather Simmons, bereft and penniless after her father dies, is taken in by her uncle and very-abusive aunt, Fanny. Heather is forced to flee a dangerous situation and ends up in Brandon Birmingham's cabin on his ship, Fleetwood. He mistakes her for a prostitute and takes advantage of her. She ends up pregnant, he's forced to marry her, and the rest of the story is spent on them discovering their love and learning to trust each other.

Heather Simmons is not your typical fiery heroine. She's had to survive constant physical and emotional abuse from her aunt and being raped by Brandon. Hence, she is docile, skittish and lacks confidence in herself. Notwithstanding, Heather has strength inside of her that shines through. Brandon is not a likable character at all. After raping Heather, he offers to keep her as his mistress, against her will of course, until she escapes. He's used to being in control and having his way.

The characters do redeem themselves in the end. Heather flourishes under Brandon's care. She finds courage and confidence once she's secure of his love. Brandon learns what it is to love someone deeply, like the kind of love his parents shared.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Maryann Enge on May 4, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When there is nothing new and exciting on the Romance scene I pull out my keepers. THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER is one of them. I first read this book in 1971 when the romance genre was definitely not what it is today. ... I am as turned off my rape as everyone else, but I didn't see the first time that Brandon and Heather were together as a "rape". The much more sophisticated and politcally correct readers of today should suspend their modern day morals and look at that first scene in the context of when it took place (200 years ago) and when it was written (30 years ago). True Heather was a bit of wimp by our standards (but certainly not by her eras). She was sweet and innocent even after induring brutal treatment by her aunt ... Brandon was very much a man of his time. The first of the true alpha Males that woman love to love but many would find hard to control and to live with! Brandon felt himself falling in love with Heather almost from the beginning and in his own macho male way started to take care of her by taking her away from her aunt and making her his wife. I thought that fact that he didn't join her in the marriage bed was punishment for him and NOT for Heather, and maybe in this way he makes up for being a bore in the beginning of the novel. ...look at it as a book that was written at a time when this was new stuff and appreciate it for the kick start that it gave woman's romance. I still think the story is wonderful and well written and one of the 3 really great books that Kathleen Woodiwiss has written along with THE WOLF AND THE DOVE and SHANNA.
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More About the Author

With more than thirty-six million copies of her bestselling novels already in print, Kathleen E. Woodiwiess remains one of America's most successful and beloved storytellers. She is the author of twelve enormously successful masterworks of romantic fiction, including The Flame and the Flower, Shanna, Ashes in the Wind, Petals on the River, and The Elusive Flame.

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