I’ve never been quiet about how much I love romance novels. Well, maybe I was at one point but it’s been a while so it’s hard for me to remember when that was true.
I’m also very defensive of the genre, its authors, and its readers.
Today, I got mad about something at Jezebel, where Katie J.M. Baker used Jane Austen (!) to trash on the genre as a whole by arguing that Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which turns 200 years old this week, is just “highbrow Twilight.” I posted a response to Baker’s piece over at my blog where I review romance novels. There was such a big response to the post over on that teeny tiny blog (it literally normally gets like 9 hits/day) so I figured I’d excerpt it here on my bigger (though still relatively tiny) blog:
It’s not that I want to try to argue that any particular modern-day romance novelist is as good as Jane Austen but there are some damn fine romance authors out there. They write beautifully crafted stories that take on issues of class and ideas about marriage. They make me laugh and cry. They pull me into their story and I physically have to fight to stop reading them to do things like use the bathroom and eat and sleep because they are simply wonderful novels that demand my attention.
There’s no shame NOW in writing about love and marriage except when people like Baker make it seem like there is. And not ALL romance is about marriage anyhow.
I have read novels that deal with finding comfort with your sexuality post a physically and emotionally abusive domestic violence situation, novels about people making hard choices against the backdrops of their jobs and imbalance of power that patriarchy causes, novels about incredibly smart women who are esteemed for their smarts and beautiful because of their brains, novels where characters marry for economic necessity and make the best of the situation, novels that explicitly talk about shame and female sexuality and tease that out into real-life situations in order to show how people deal and move on and find love.
Long live romance novels!