Who’s Up For a Quick Jaunt to Manchester?

Thanks to Kate Duffy, who sent me a link to the Times online article, I have reason to start haunting the travel airfare sites (pass the smelling salts, omgwtfbbq) for airfare to Manchester. The Mills & Boon exhibit of book cover art is now open at the Manchester Public Library through 30 July – before it goes on a national tour. I’ve been wondering lately as I chase Fabio (who will not return my calls, dammit!) why some of the cover art isn’t re-examined as art, even pop art. Granted, some of the cover images of the 80’s are the height of absurd, but the talent of the illustrators is considerable, especially when depicting the loving windswept curls of the average heroic mullet. So to have M&B art displayed as a journey through the cultural evolution of romance is very cool, indeed. According to the article, the art is placed in an order that “serves as a guide to the changing patterns of courtship through the decades:”

Mills & Boon celebrates that other “right to choose” – the young girl’s ability to choose a mate, at the one and only time in her life when young men queue up and she does the picking and choosing. But what is going on in Utility Wedding (1946)? Is this the body language of the tormented man, back from the war? It looks like it. Behind, in the houses, lies the possibility of domestic bliss, but will she say yes? In her eye we read: “Do I mean to put up with him and his neuroses, or shall I say no?” For once, doubt and emotional distress enter in. But mostly what comes next, true and lasting love, is never in doubt.

The companion book will be published in August. Hopefully I will cross the pond by then, but I’m not holding my breath. With gas prices, I don’t even drive that much – to say nothing of the fact that due to the toll structures, you have to pay to get out of Jersey (it’s free to get back in).

If anyone is near Manchester and checks out the exhibit, would you please let me know what you think?

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  1. 1
    SonomaLass says:

    Oh great, the first summer in five years that we aren’t going to the United Kingdom for two or three weeks!

    I hope someone is able to attend and give us all a thorough review.  And I’m putting that book on my list!

  2. 2
    theladyferris says:

    Hoping to go next week!

    More info here:
    http://snipurl.com/2dt0y

    And a picture gallery of old covers here:
    http://snipurl.com/2dt6h

    Any thoughts on what ‘Grace Before Meat’ could be about???

  3. 3

    That second page that theladyferris gives has a link to over 50 M&B;covers, so maybe it’s almost as good as seeing the exhibition. It’s definitely a lot more accessible.

  4. 4

    I’m going on Friday and I’ll be reporting on it on Sybil’s blog. A friend of mne, the author Christine Burrows is being interviewed for TV. I’ll let you know if it comes on line!

  5. 5
    Cat Marsters says:

    Damn, where is it travelling to?  Manchester is one of those places that isn’t far in terms of miles, but I’d rather chew my own arm than try to get there.

  6. 6
    xaipe says:

    I particularly love the 1940s era style and will definitely want the book. I have The Look of Love which has some Mills & Boon/Harlequin and at first I was afraid it was the same book—I’m so excited that it’s not.

  7. 7
    Kelly says:

    you have to pay to get out of Jersey

    Hell, I’ve only been living in upstate New York for two years now, and the snarky comments are springing forth like you wouldn’t believe. Must be something in the air… (I mean, is anyone really surprised they make it difficult to leave? It’s Jersey! ;-p )

  8. 8
    Hortense Powdermaker says:

    Even better than the cover art are some of the titles:

    The Timber Man 

    Where No Stars Shine

    On Call Sister!

    and the best one of all – wait for it…

    Romance Goes Tenting!

    I could comment but I won’t.

  9. 9
    Qadesh says:

    Sarah, I think you are on to something. Think of all the pop art that is now seen as being appropriate to hang on walls as decoration, movie posters, advertisements, 50’s pulp fiction magazine covers.  I say it’s only a matter of time until HGTV does a special on the rising collectibility of romance cover art.  It can happen!

  10. 10
    Lyvvie says:

    I’m trying to find the tour dates and locations for this because if it comes to Scotland I’ll definitely go.

  11. 11
    Jules Jones says:

    Just switched on the telly, and caught the end of the local evening news on the BBC—and guess what the last story was? In the “and now for something relaxingly silly” slot, of course, but the reporter took it perfectly seriously, even one or two of the studio presenters didn’t.

  12. 12

    Jules, I went and had a look at the BBC website and the video of that report’s up on their website already: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7438356.stm.

  13. 13
    SB Sarah says:

    Why the devil was the reporter, and the author, too, for that matter, sitting in a dark, gloomy room with an oddly-lit chair?

  14. 14

    That’s my friend Chris (writes as Annie Burrows) who lives around the corner from me. Her house isn’t dark and gloomy at all. Maybe they thought it would add atmosphere, or more likely, they didn’t bring enough light equipment with them!
    I’m so proud of her! She’s new to M and B but she was their best selling historical writer last year.

  15. 15
    Rebecca says:

    I am most of the way through the Independent’s gallery of some of the covers and I did a double take on the cover for Brittle Bondage (1966). I think the hero looks a lot like Sean Connery.

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