Romance Reading and Collecting

artglassSometimes I take away more from a beloved romance novel than the love story, or fond memories of the hero and heroine. Sometimes other aspects of the book not only stick with me, they actually influence my life.

Art glass is something I never thought about, let alone collected, until I read one of my favorite romances of all time, Nora Roberts’ Born in Fire.

The heroine Maggie Concannon is a glass artist. Her work comes to the attention of wealthy gallery owner Rogan Sweeney. He wants to show her work in one of his galleries, and when she fails to respond to his inquiries, he goes in search of her in her rural home. Rogan first encounters Maggie – mid work – in her small studio behind her home. She barks at him to close the door, and then immediately turns back to her art:

She set her mouth to the pipe and blew. He watched the bubble form, fascinated despite himself. Such a simple procedure, he thought, only breath and molten glass. Her fingers worked on the pipe, turning it and turning it, fighting gravity, using it, until she was satisfied with the shape.

That was all it took. I was hooked, not only on Rogan and Maggie’s love story, but on art glass. Soon after I read the book, I began looking at art glass online, in galleries and museums. My collection began soon after that. I have my glass pieces spread throughout my home. I can’t step into a room without seeing one, and each one reminds me of Maggie and her tiny studio in rural Ireland.

Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts started me on a collection of perfume bottles. Dora, the heroine, owns an antique store. One of the hero’s friends comes into the store to check Dora.  Dora tries to help the friend with a selection, and asks, “How about something in a perfume bottle? We have several nice pieces in crystal, porcelain, blown glass.”

The scene goes on to describe the bottle that the friend settles on, a “heart-shaped bottle with cut flowers decorating both front and back.” That was all it took to get me searching the Internet for information about perfume bottles. I now have a collection of about 20 perfume bottles. It’s an odd collection, made up of antiques and art glass. None were expensive, but I love each one. And whenever I look at them, I remember Dora and her shop.

I had never heard of Fiestaware until I read Jennifer Crusie’s The Cinderella Deal.

Daisy took the kettle off while Julia took down two mismatched cups and saucers, plunking her Constant Comment tea bags in a Blue Willow cup and Daisy’s Earl Grey in the bright orange Fiestaware. Daisy poured the hot water over the bags and said, “Pretty” as the tea color spread through the cups.

Fiestaware appears in many of Ms. Crusie’s other books, but it was after reading The Cinderella Deal that I purchased my first place setting. I now have eight place settings in a rainbow of colors. I figure the variety of colors fits in completely with Daisy and Julia’s mismatched tea cups.

Jennifer Crusie also introduced me to another kitchen item, one that I’ve so far managed to resist collecting. In Fast Women, I first learned of Carlton Ware running egg cups from the Walking Ware line.

“Ha,” Suze said and unwrapped the china, only to stop and stare. It was a small, round white china cup, but it had feet, honest-to-God people feet with blue spotted socks and black shoes. Maggie had another, with black striped socks and yellow shoes. “What is this stuff?”  “Walking Ware,” Nell said. “Novelty china from the seventies.”

The minute I read the description in Fast Women, I got on the Web and began looking at photos (and sales) of these odd egg cups. I’ll have to admit I haven’t purchased any – they’re rather pricey – but the appeal is still there.  I suspect that someday, if the price is right, I’ll give in and buy one.

But my latest obsession is the result of a re-reading of Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels. This is the time of year when I start thinking about looking for a fresh supply of gloves for the coming winter. And thanks to Lord of Scoundrels, I am completely determined to buy a pair with buttons.

“Say your prayers, Miss Trent,” he told her very softly. Then he slid his hand – his big, dark, bare hand, for he had removed his gloves to eat and hadn’t put them back on – down the sleeve of her pelisse until he came to the first button of her frivolous pearl grey gloves.  He popped the tiny pearl from the buttonhole.

Of course I’ve also become obsessed with food items, and particular settings as a result of romances, but that’s another post.

Have you ever become obsessed with an item or object featured in a romance? And are you wacky enough like me to actually begin collecting something that you first learned about in a romance?

– LinnieGayl AAR

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13 Responses to “Romance Reading and Collecting”

  1. lauren says:

    I don’t really collect much…I have this obsession with anti clutter and purging. In the past teacups were my passion and I still do have them…I do think about that collection (safely packed away) when I am reading a book where “teatime” is in the storyline. My Scottish obsession has prompted me to have a couple things…a ring (with Celtic and thistle engraving) and desire to have that pattern tattooed somewhere on my body. I also have been contemplating a artistic adventure with old Scottish gravestones (inspired by an artist I saw doing something similar last year) but I haven’t really worked out the details yet. I don’t want to plagiarize…but use the idea as inspiration for something else.

  2. Susan says:

    I have an art glass dragon I bought years ago at a craft fair. I love that thing. It hangs in my window. However, a romance novel did not prompt me to get it. I’m not much of a collector, really.

    I’d love to have a pair of gloves with buttons. Especially if a big half-Italian would unbutton them for me…

  3. Mary Beth says:

    YES! After reading more historical romances than I can count, I started collecting pieces that have coaches on them. I have a wonderful Bossons lamp with three panels depicting a stage traveling along, then the next panel shows a highwayman stopping the stage and in the final one, we see the stage arriving at it’s destination. I also have various pieces of English porcelain with stagecoach scenes and bookends as well. It is a little weird, however the idea of the stage with travel and new beginnings just appeals to me. It is nice to know that the effect of my reading is not something that I alone experience. Thanks you gave me a good laugh this morning!

  4. Kim says:

    I had actually collected some rare romances such as Marsha Canham’s, The Wind and The Sea. With everything being converted to ebooks, there will no longer be any rare editions of books.

  5. xina says:

    I have to admit, after reading Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise, I went on a Chicken Marsala kick. For quite some time I would order it if we were eating at an Italian restaurant. I had some great Chicken Marsala, and some horrid versions. Ugh…I can barely stand to think of it. I really overdid it. Other than that, I really haven’t been influenced by something I may have read in a romance novel, or any novel for that matter.

  6. LinnieGayl says:

    Lauren, my desire for minimal clutter battles constantly with my desire to collect some things.

    Susan, well yes, the half-Italian would definitely be nice to go along with the gloves :)

    Mary Beth, whew! So glad I’m not the only one. And your coaches collection sounds fascinating.

    Kim, I too picked up a few rare romances when I first started reading romances. But you’re right, now you can get many of them as ebooks.

    Xina, I’m very susceptible to food in novels of any kind. And I can’t believe it but I still haven’t tried Chicken Marsala. I must remedy that, and soon.

  7. Marjorie says:

    LinnieGayl – I too, was fascinated by “Walking Ware” in Jennifer Crusie’s Fast Women. Not only by the china itself, but by what it meant to Nell – how the china had wrapped itself around her life.

    I really resonated to the idea that some of my ‘things’ have extremely deep attachment to me – like echoes that only I hear when I see and touch and use them. Nell’s china woke me to how I think about some of my own possessions.

    This kind of detail in Ms. Crusie’s books – her depth of writing that seems effortless makes me buy each book as it is published. I know I’ll believe her characters are real – I’ll be well acquainted with them.

    Agnes’s house in Agnes and the Hitman (by Jen Crusie & Bob Mayer) became like another wonderful character in the story.

  8. LeeB. says:

    Great column! I actually never thought about collecting anything featured in books, but it is a great idea.

  9. Brenda says:

    I loved this column, I may not have started collecting item’s because of books I’ve read … but having read and loved each of the books mentioned in this column I can appreciate each reference. They make me want to head over to eBay and see what I can find in a beautiful buttoned up glove just so I can relive that scene or in some blown glass art … just as a start. :)

  10. Sherri says:

    Loved the column.
    I haven’t started collecting anything because of a particular novel, but they do tend to get me reading about what ever the book was about. If I really liked the book I tend to read up on the setting or the occupation of the characters. Suzanne Enoch’s Flirting With Danger had me reading up on high-end art burglary.

    I do have a collection of odd and rare romance books. My favorite is the cover with a three-armed woman – Christina Dodd’s Castles in the Air.

  11. I can’t blame my reading, but I do collect tea caddies and antique tea and coffee cups. Fortunately my husband likes antique porcelain as well, although he couldn’t believe it when I arrived home from a trip a couple of months ago with yet another Georgian caddy. It was only a very little one, though. LOL. I didn’t really set out to collect them. I bought the first one with my first advance cheque and then a few years ago I saw a very different one that I loved … it sort of went from there.
    I also have quite a few of the tin caddies that tea used to be sold in. And still is by Twinings for that matter. They can be quite pretty and my kids haven’t figured out that I hide the choc chips for cookies in them!

  12. Before the use of battery-powered lamps, underground miners used CARBIDE LAMPS – usually worn on their hard hats….

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