Betrayed by MZB

61893This past week I unearthed three Marion Zimmer Bradley paperbacks that I vaguely recalled reading about ten years ago. Since I hadn’t picked them up in a very long time, I decided to reread them and decide whether they should stay in my personal library or be passed on. After picking up title #1, Ghostlight (Light, #1), and reading about 75 pages, my new debate is whether or not I should recycle them or burn them.

I guess burning them is too harsh for a novel that just simply isn’t my taste. And it surprised me that this novel was so far off from my taste. I mean, Marion Zimmer Bradley? The MZB who created the glorious world of The Mists of Avalon? The author renowned for her strong female characters, who created the Sword and Sorceress anthology series that celebrates the heroine? How in the world was this novel a MZB book?  Ghostlight reads like an old fashioned romance. For example:

His gaze rested on her with obvious male approval, and Truth felt the heat rise in her cheeks again. What was it about the master of Shadow’s Gate that flustered her so? This wasn’t at all like her; she was always so cool and self possessed, a creature of the mind, ruled by the mind and wary of emotional entrapment. No flighty Gothic heroine she! (Ghostlight, p 76)

Oh, please, just stop. And then this, later in the book:

The girl wore tiny, square, wire-rimmed glasses with pink lenses, and a peace symbol flashed among the love beads around her neck. Across a quarter of a century she smiled into the lens of an unknown photographer, her hand raised in a “V” sign. A peace sign, Truth remembered, dredging up the fact from some well of antique trivia. (Ghostlight, p 110)

What was that? Did the author just explain the peace sign, a sign completely universal and so ubiquitous?

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After reading that, I tried to understand what led me to purchase this book – and 2 of its sequels. The cover of my book (at the top)doesn’t scream quivery, shuddering neo-Gothic romance. And it has the name of an author I really enjoy, in big embossed letters at the top. So when did MZB write this, I wondered. And there, on the copyright page, was the answer to all my questions. The copyright of this particular novel is not held by MZB, or even her estate. The copyright is held by another author, Rosemary Edghill – who happens to have a number of gothic romances in her bibliography.

After doing some basic reading on Marion Zimmer Bradley and Rosemary Edghill, it seems that a number of novels originally ascribed to MZB had their copyrights reassigned after her death. Bradley had been quite ill for many years, and shared the task of writing with several coauthors. Unfortunately, I was not astute enough to realize this before reading Ghostlight.

My only consolation is that anyone who chooses their reading material based on cover art won’t be misled – the current cover art for Ghostlight is very nicely gothic.

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And in the interest of recycling books, I have 3 books to give away to a reader of this blog that posts a comment below. If I have more than one comment, I’ll pick names from a hat. And – you guessed it, these books are NOT by Marion Zimmer Bradley, they are by Rosemary Edghill. Ghostlight, Heartlight, and Gravelight could be yours! These books are all paperbacks, in good condition. Please post your comment by March 28, 2013.

5 Comments

Filed under Author feature, Book Giveaway

5 responses to “Betrayed by MZB

  1. Carol A. Gray-Ricci

    The explanation of the peace sign is to date the heroine as sufficently in the future that she has to think what it was. MZB did write some romances, including at least one that was based on a horoscope, but the one published in the paperback was not the one around which she wrote the story. She mentioned that at a convention, and wrote as much when she autographed the book for me. (I bought it in the dealers room just to have something to ask her to sign, and found it light but a good ‘put you to sleep’ book.)

  2. Isn’t the word “betrayed” a little harsh? (Besides, sometimes when it comes to collaborative works, the lesser-known author has *zero* say as to whose name goes on the cover.)

    I’m also not sure how you came by the information that Ms. Edghill had written a number of “other Gothic romances,” as her five romances that I am aware of are either Regencies (four) or one time-travel romance. (She’s also written mysteries and science fiction and fantasy.) Ms. Edghill also wrote two “alternate Regencies” with science fiction and fantasy Grandmaster André Norton, where Ms. Edghill’s name was clearly on the cover along with Miss Norton’s, with those books containing several fantasy elements.

    There’s a big difference between Regencies, time-travel romance and a Gothic — though calling three of the four “Light” books Gothics is not completely out of the realm of possibility. (“Heartlight” is definitely not a Gothic.)

    I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy them. I liked them a great deal, as I viewed “Heartlight” as a historical fantasy with the other three being various types of contemporary fantasy (yes, with Gothic elements thrown in to spice up the mix). But to each, their own.

    P.S. I already have all four books (plus I didn’t comment before your deadline). But thank you for your kind offer anyway. 🙂

    • Romance is not a genre I am well versed in, so my classification of Ms. Edghill’s books came from whatever wiki I read about her writings. I’m disappointed they weren’t for me. I did feel betrayed, though, as you point out, MZB is probably not who I should blame. Thanks for your comments! I love a good conversation about books. I’m curious about Edghill’s collaborations with Andre Norton, and I think I will look for them at my library.

  3. I’m sorry I missed the posting deadline, the books sounded interesting. I like lots of collaborations, some are better than others, sometimes you can tell who wrote which part, sometimes the two authors work very seamlessly, apparently, this was a case where it was not seamless for you.

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