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.
Filed under: Romance in general