March 31, 2011

The Sheik, a period piece

I recently read The Sheik by E. M. Hull. Until I did a little research, I thought the author was a man simply because of the initials. No. A woman, Edith Maude Hull, wrote this novel that took the world by storm or rather by sheik in 1921. Published in February of that year, it had 20 printings by August and a silent film of the same name came out in November. All this in ten months! Rudolph Valentino starred as the wild eyed master of women, one in particular, Diana Mayo. His kidnapping her and total domination over her, eventually turned to love for them both. These days, 90 years later, our modern sensibilities would be outraged at such a plot. However, remembering the year is that of the beginning of those infamous Roaring Twenties, gives clear insight into what made women and men tick, romantically speaking back then.

296 pages, hardback, no pictures, a single paragraph takes a page and a half on several occasions - the story is sexy without any sex. A kiss, a heavy look, and the angst, oh, the angst, but romantic it is as the girl with the boyish frame and the man with the physical strength achieved by breaking wild horses, and women, unite and ultimately marry.

With lines like "a mesmerism she could not resist", "flung a word of savage command" and "her only recourse lay in the bravado that alone kept her from collapse", The Sheik was a page-turner for me. They don't write 'um like that any more or do they? The person who loaned me her Sheik, told me Hull's style of romantic writing reminded her of my style in my Goodbye Lie and Velvet Undertow novels.  I never expected to hear such a thing but that could explain why I so appreciate the writing style of The Sheik because I studied it like a text book. Good fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment