Clyde Batchelor -- The Definitive Romance Hero

At least, I think so....

Some time in the early to mid 1970s, I borrowed a book from the library in Monroe, Louisiana entitled Steamboat Gothic, by Frances Parkinson Keyes. My parents had moved to Louisiana from Montgomery, Alabama, and I followed them when school let out for summer.  I borrowed several books, fiction and nonfiction, to learn about their new state.

I read several other of Keyes' Louisiana novels -- Dinner at Antoine's, Crescent Carnival, The River Road, perhaps one or two others, and I enjoyed them all, despite Keyes' propensities for including everything in her stories but the kitchen sink. In fact, that was part of the reason why I read them -- their vivid and arresting portrayal of French (i.e., south) Louisiana culture in which the stories of her fascinating characters were embedded -- a land in the South but like no other part of Dixie, the exotic locale of Creoles and Cajuns and their servants -- which makes them very, very un-PC today.

But Steamboat Gothic proved to be the most memorable. I bought a paperback version with this cover, and read it at least a couple more times in the next few years, but at some point in the mid to late 1980s, I lost my copy.  I never forgot the story, though, and through the years, longed to read it again.

A few days ago, I received a used copy purchased from It's been most interesting, reading the story again from a writer's viewpoint. I have known since my earliest attempts to write that my style was highly influenced by two authors -- Rex Stout and Frances Parkinson Keyes. Sounds rather odd when you realize that Stout wrote spare, fast-moving and short detective novels starring the famous Nero Wolfe and his equally famous "official gnat," Archie Goodwin -- novels set mostly in New York City that took place over a period of days or weeks --  while Keyes wrote ponderous romantic and cultural dramas that sometimes covered years, decades, generations or, in the case of Steamboat Gothic, the better part of a century. 

Over an indeterminate time period in the near-distant future, I'm going to blog about Steamboat Gothic and its author from a variety of approaches (SPOILER ALERT!), not the least of which is what makes Clyde Batchelor the most magnetic, admirable and unforgettable romance hero I've ever read.

Stay tuned!

The great house at San Francisco Plantation in Garyville, Louisiana,
the inspiration for "Cindy Lou Plantation" in Steamboat Gothic.

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