I believe in happily ever after even though Time Magazine doesn’t

Yesterday Dear Author’s poll on adultery in romance novels yielded a super interesting discussion in the comments. Yes people, surprisingly sometimes adultery DOES occur in romance novels…and my response to when is it ok for the hero or heroine to engage in cheating? NEVER.

With that on my mind, I was surprised to coincidentally receive this in the mail yesterday:


The article starts out mocking the recent politicians whose adulterous woes have been splashed all over the media. But as it went on to examine this trend a part stood out to me:

An increasingly fragile construct depending less and less on notions of sacrifice and obligation than on the ephemera of romance and happiness as defined by and for its adult principals, the intact, two-parent family remains our cultural ideal, but it exists under constant assault. It is buffeted by affairs and ennui, subject to the eternal American hope for greater happiness, for changing the hand you dealt yourself.

Romance novels end with a Happily Ever After and we don’t get to see “what happens in the after,” just an occaisonal epilogue that ties up everything neatly in a rainbow of love and bliss. If the book is written well I don’t think we need to see the hero and heroine’s marriage down the road to know that they are making it work.

That’s why I never read those follow-up Pride and Prejudicebooks on Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.

We all know marriage isn’t a bed of roses and that troubles arise, but what I think I love the most about romance novels is that the sacrifices and obligations are examined DURING the book. While the “I love you” happens on page 500, it’s the journey in the first 499 pages that proves how their love will SURVIVE, how we the reader know it is a true happy ending because of the obstacles the hero and heroine have already faced and surmounted. They can and will do it again in the future.

So while romance novels continue to be touted as women’s fantasies that could never happen in real life, with depressing articles like the Time’s showing us how marriage statistics are getting worse, I’ll stick to reading my genre fiction. Even knowing that it’s fiction, happily ever after is still possible in real life for everyone.


7 Responses

  1. You should try Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

  2. Huh, can’t really imagine how adultery would fit into my idea of a romance novel, and certainly not into my idea of a marraige

  3. I would love to see more books showing a happy marriage. JD Robb really shows the great dynamics between Eve and Roarke being married, even if Roarke is a gazillonare. The argue, make up, laugh, love etc… Everything I would want if I got married.

    Unfortunately, marriage is not the one for me even though many in my family have been married and celebrating many decades together.

  4. Mal Snay: was that a tongue in cheek recommendation? i can’t tell. but anyways. No.

    Art: it is definitely hard to wrap my brain around too, even with extenuating circumstances

    KB: i agree is it SO COOL when we get to see more of the “after” and examine the marriage side of the relationship as opposed to the heady courting phase. one of these days i will get around to reading the In Death series.

    Because i don’t have enough series that i’m addicted to…(sarcasm)

  5. I’m totally writing a toast for two of my friends’ wedding this summer based on the idea that the wedding shouldn’t be the happy ending, it should be the beginning or at least the beginning of the next step. I don’t like it in my fiction, but I love it in real life :)

  6. it makes me sad that so many people see it as inevitable that marriages will end. why can’t that be the exception, not the rule?

    ps faboo new bloggy look over here, dahrling!

  7. Exactly! You fall in love with them falling in love. I love this.

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