Thursday, July 29, 2010

Phyllis Whitney is Saving My Sanity

I am embarrassed to write that blog heading. It's hard to admit that occasionally, under extreme circumstances, I slink off to bed with a Phyllis Whitney book tucked under my arm.

The one I'm reading now, Hunter's Green, was published in 1968. I picked it up at a library book sale, and it's so well done!

Phyllis Whitney, who died at the age of 104 in February 2008, was a master of the romantic suspense genre, which reached its height in the late 1960s. Mary Stewart's romantic suspense novels of the same era are often compared with Whitney's, and they are similar, except that Whitney was American and Stewart is English.

Mind you, Whitney is not a literary writer, and never pretended to be. But she knows plot, pacing, and how to create atmosphere better than the best genre authors and better than many literary fiction authors.

Whitney's plots usually focus on a young, vulnerable female protagonist. These women are never naive because of a flaw in intelligence, experience, or character--they're vulnerable because of their youth and because of the tragedies and misfortunes that have befallen them. They tend to be much stronger than Victoria Holt's heroines.

Okay, so I'm using Hunter's Green as pablum for a beleagured soul. I think everyone has these "secret" sources of comfort that they reach to in times of stress.

Would you be willing to share your "comfort authors?"


  1. I loved Phyllis Whitney when I read her books in the early 1970s and I still have my Mary Stewart books somewhere. I thought she was Scottish but you are correct, she was born in England but has lived in Edinburgh since 1956 so I think she qualifies as Scottish now.

    I love Winston Graham's Poldark books. Set in Cornwall,starting in 1783 and historically accurate. Good comfort reading.

  2. Pablum for the soul! I love it. Sometime in another decade, long, long ago I read--no, devoured--books by Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt. I was eleven years old! I think this is where I must have gotten many of my devoutly held notions of romance (shudder). Thank God I found Jane Eyre (hmmmm) and then Jean Rhys (oh dear)....I confess that I read the first three books of the Twilight saga, one after the other, like candy.

  3. lol in times of stress I just read the ones that will take me away, the author has to grab your attention when you open the book.. ... I love Phyllis Whitney and will probably be starting "The Golden Unicorn" tonight..but I also love Victoria Holt and Jan Karon's Mitford books.. and I have a local author Annie M. Cole that I really like.. hoping she will write 2nd book...Hoping to pass on to my daughter the love of these great women :D... now gonna have to find a Mary Stewart book.. curious now