Gore Vidal’s improbable acquaintanceship with the late Barbara Cartland – comically recounted in his latest memoirs Point To Point Navigation – takes me to Barbaracartland.com.
It’s astonishing enough that she rattled out 723 books and sold a billion copies in her long life. But I hadn’t realised that she left behind 160 unpublished novels – surely a world record? Comprising The Barbara Cartland Pink Collection these are now being published at a rate of one a month to celebrants of pre-copulatory love.
Vidal writes of the riddling purity she expected in her protagonists: A Cartland law of matrimony insisted that the bride be totally virginal and inexperienced on her wedding night while, simultaneously, her groom must be equally virginal but experienced. Millions of Cartland fans were known to debate this contradiction with Talmudic zeal. Later, at lunch, the author herself joined in the debate. "After all, an experienced older lady could have contributed, in the purest way, to the hero's education." This was cryptic, to say the least.