Comparing Time of the Temptress and Gone With the Wind
In the Harlequin romance Time of the Temptress, by Violet Winspear, the author seems to be trying to write an intelligent story of romance, bettered by its literary self-awareness. She fails on both counts. Winspear appears to recognize that more valued literature tends to involve symbolism and allusions to other works. It seems she is trying to use archetypes and allusions in her own novel, but her references to alternate literature and culture are embarrassingly obvious and awkward. Another inter-literary connection, though, is more difficult to notice unless the book is pondered -- something the typical romance reader is not likely to do. Although Winspear attempts to give her book literary value by tying it to Gone With the Wind, because of the limitations of her chosen genre, and her own apparent inabilities as a writer, she cannot grasp the depth that makes Gone With the Wind a highly regarded romance work.
The first clue to the correlation of the novels is given through the name of the Time of the Temptress character Wade O'Mara. The name does not flow very well. When the last name is considered, it seems familiar. Almost anyone can recognize O'Hara as the last name of Gone With the Wind's heroine, Scarlett. What many do not know, as this bit of her life was cut out of the movie version, is that Scarlett had a son named Wade. Scarlett's son Wade's last name was not O'Hara, but the name "Wade O'Mara" is obviously a play on the names of Margaret Mitchell's richly developed characters. That Wade O'Mara has a cousin and a son with the last name of Mitchell further indicates the connection to Gone With the Wind.
This is the closest Winspear comes to a direct declaration of her references to the novel. It is possible that she does not acknowledge this connection, as she does the others in her story, because it, unlike the others, is not cliché and overused. She is not ashamed of it as she is (or at least should be) of the others.
Winspear seems to be attempting to model her characters after those of Gone With the Wind. The main characters in Time of the Temptress have significant references to Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara, but Winspear cannot capture what makes Margaret Mitchell's characters so appealing.
The descriptions of Wade O'Mara are so Rhett-like, it is surprising that Winspear's Eve does not remark, or think, "you remind me of Clark Gable!" She does, however, repeatedly relate him to Humphrey Bogart, famous for films of the same era as Gable. Wade is depicted as tall, dark, and madly handsome. He exudes masculinity, and is in complete control at all times. His hair is wavy black, and his well-tanned skin tightly covers his rippling muscles. His demeanor is mocking, and he always has an upper hand when speaking with the heroine. He is experienced with, and understands the ways of, women. ...