Virginia Barton

A genre based on nothing

Catholic Herald, 6 October 1989


Review: Trevithick by Pamela Hill (Robert Hale, £10.95)


It’s the easiest target to knock – the most difficult (so they say) to write. I refer to romantic fiction: easily digestible pap which the public buys by the cartload, even at £11 a volume.

While not quite rivalling the Pink Doyenne of the genre, Ms. Hill has more than 40 novels to her credit. An alarming thought. Titles like The Fairest One of All and Knock at a Star should provide a clue to the substance of Trevithick. Trouble is, there is no substance; indeed, romantic fiction relies on insubstantiality.

There is a strap-on Catholic interest in Trevithick in that the action takes place in Cornwall  against a sketchy background of the Oxford Movement.

The hero, a clergyman fashionably turned papist, makes his first appearance rising stark naked from the sea, like Venus. The heroine at this moment is struck by his scholarly domed forehead – saucy rather than erotic.

The plot lurches from one sensation to the next, the dialogue sometimes lapses into olde worlde, the characters behave more or less badly.

For £11 I can pay my milkman for a fortnight, buy three bottles of plonk, or six pairs of socks.




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