Saturday, September 28, 2013

When Did "Romance" Become A Dirty Word?

"I had a romance novel inside me, but I paid three sailors to beat it out of me with steel pipes." 
-Patton Oswalt

What does the literary community have against romance novels?

This is a question I've been asking myself more and more lately. When was the last time you heard anyone professionally affiliated with the book world seriously discuss or review a romance novel? I mean, a romance novel that wasn't 50 Shades Of Grey?

Anyone? Anyone?

Every time I hear a professional reviewer, critic, or commentator deign to mention romance, it is with a smirk, a snort, or a disparaging remark. At best, romances are dismissed out of hand. At worst, they are called "fluff".

When did "romance" become synonymous with literary dross? Have people forgotten the numerous classics that are also -gasp- romance novels? Here are a few to refresh our collective memories:
-Pride And Prejudice
-Sense And Sensibility
-Wuthering Heights
-Jane Eyre
-Lady Chatterly's Lover
-Anna Karenina
-Romeo And Juliet
-Much Ado About Nothing
-The Taming Of The Shrew

I grant, there are plenty of romance novels out there that meet the definition of "fluff". But I don't understand why people treat that as a bad thing. Many of Shakespeare's romantic plays were "fluff". Does Shakespeare count as "literary dross"?

If so, this is news to me.

There are also plenty of other romance novels that use love stories to delve into deep human and political issues. Why are these not taken seriously? What better way to understand these issues than through the one thing we all have in common?

Seriously, is this just me?


  1. That's a very good question.
    I love romance. My poor little heart couldn't even handle my suspense novel not having a new love interest and happy ending.

    Most of my favorite books could, in one way or another, count as romances.

    The Masqueraders
    Much Ado About Nothing
    Twelfth Night
    *Ahem* All That Glitters
    and What The Body Needs

    And sometimes 'fluff' is just what the brain needs. When life gets too busy and I need some place for my mind to hide for an hour or so a day I will pick up a fun paperback romance novel. There's nothing like a quick romp through the regency era to give my brain a break from a crappy week.

    Don't listen to the naysayers. They're just jealous. ;)

  2. Yes! Thank you Rose! And I'm terribly flattered my books made your list :-)

  3. You're welcome. Just tellin' it like it is. :D


What did you think? Love it? Hate it? Either way, I want to hear from you!