Nora Roberts is one my favourite authors. When I club her in the list of authors I worship, that include names like Harper Lee, Arthur Conan Doyle, the Bronte’ sisters,P.G.Wodehouse and Dan Brown, I’m met with skeptic disbelief at best and mocking contempt at worst. Chick lit, they say, is hardly in the same league as classics and dramatic prose. I disagree, both with the (intended to be insulting)monicker as well the widespread notion that romance writers are somehow the lightweights of the literary world.
A good novel in my perspective entwines a compelling story and captivating language,irrespective of the genre. I personally think that bestsellers are those stories that people identify most with and relate it to their day to day dramas and upheavals, however outlandish the premise. Stories that we can lose ourselves in and weave fantasies around, all the while escaping from our lives for those precious hours. Nothing exemplifies these qualities more that well written romantic novels. But aside from a few awards like the RITA, they go largely unrecognised. Furthermore, even avid readers are reluctant to admit reading them for fear of not being though erudite and classy enough. They easily disavow romantic authors for more grittier, pedantic and manlier novels with serious and meaty storylines, preferably books that have garnered booker prizes and respectable awards. As a result, more and more young writers chose thrillers, drama or non fiction instead of venturing into romantic writing.
I have much to thank Ms Roberts, Sandra Brown, Judith McNaught, Karen Rose, Lisa Kleypas, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Linda Howard and scores of other great authors for rescuing me from the drudgery of daily life with their words. They enraptured me with finely written stories about love and loss, bravely examining the feelings and frailties of human life. Notice how this field remains largely dominated by women, as if exploring the finer side of emotions is abhorrent to the male populace. It is true that by and large consumers of this genre remain largely restricted to the female population. And at this current day and age you wouldn’t earn brownie points with the pseudo intellectual community by admitting to be a romance novel aficionado.
But it’s high time we embrace the positivity and happiness these books bring into our dreary existence. They make us believe in happily ever after, relieve us from the cynicism of a hard boiled world and allow us to dream again. What’s so unfathomable about wanting to escape into a reality with softened edges and magical moments. I for one, am tired of askance glances when I mention my favourites, or the need to defend my reading choices as if they aren’t worthy of mention. I hope the world sees more acceptance of romantic literature.