Romantic genre novels aren’t known for realism.
Impossibly beautiful young women, sometimes fiery and passionate, sometimes chaste and virginal. Gorgeous young hunks, tall, dark, and muscled, often wealthy beyond the dreams of mere mortals. Mansions, castles, private jets, the works.
So-called “serious” literary novels, on the other hand, often have a dreary and super-realistic view of romance. Leading characters in such novels might stay together for a short while, sampling a new partner and savouring some hot sex along the way, but they lack strong emotional bonds.
Personally, I’ve always found both types of novels—fantastic, over-the-top affairs and loveless sexual unions—unsatisfying. Some essential ingredient is always missing. I can’t relate at all to the lovers in traditional romantic novels, and the characters in less-traditional but more “realistic” ones always leave me depressed. What’s the point of a romantic novel if the lovers in it don’t actually care about each other?
To me, the ideal romantic novel would combine the deep love and wild passion of a traditional romantic genre novel with the bracing realism of a less traditional literary one. Just like romance in real life.
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Kaja, a “translator, a book geek, an amateur home cook, a feminist, and an enthusiastic traveler” who lives in Slovenia, discusses this topic in her post, “Should Romance Be Realistic?” See http://ofdragonsandhearts.com/2016/04/should-romance-be-realistic/
What are your thoughts on the different types of romantic novels?
photo credit: Tom Simpson True-to-Life Romances #18 (1953), cover by L. B. Cole via photopin (license)
One thought on “Does Realism Belong in Romance?”
Well, I recently read a book by Candace Bushnell (of the Sex and the City fame) called Four Blondes. There were four distinct stories, all involving Manhattan socialites who had sex a lot. I admit it was an easy read and sort of entertaining, but the endless sex these women had got a bit tedious. So I kind of like a little bit of a tease in a romance novel, where two lovers take a while to get together, rather than doing it immediately.