Recently, I’ve noted a subtle change in the way some websites are doing their reviews. It’s primarily at some of the more visible sites. The reviews being posted have a literary bent to them. I don’t see this as a bad thing. Actually, it’s nice to read a review that fully documents why a book does or doesn’t work for the reviewer.
The interesting thing is that I sometimes feel like I’m reading a review that could easily be at home in a literary magazine, which reviews books like Memoirs of a Geisha, The Joy Luck Club etc. Both excellent books, but I’d probably lean toward calling them general fiction as opposed to women’s fiction. Of course, that’s a subjective observation, so don’t flay me alive if you happen to disagree.
Here I Go Again — Thinking!
What got me to thinking about these expansive reviews and insightful commentary is that over the past couple of years, I’ve seen a movement to “legitimize” romance. To study romance from an academic point-of-view and see how it reflects our culture and its values. I’ve been a part of it myself to some extent. Although I’ve stepped back from the movement some because I’m not sure my work is a reflection of current culture and /or society mores. That is, I don’t believe my work embodies a Jane Austen quality in which the story reflects social aspects of the time. So thinking about this made me curious as to whether or not the phenomenon of in-depth reviewing of a “literary” nature might be an natural progression of changing perceptions about romance
As someone who tends to over analyze everything I do or say (hence today’s post), these literary-style reviews of romance intrigue me. However it does make me wonder if reviews searching for the inner meaning of life inside a romance novel might be expecting more of a fictional book (any genre) than its primary purpose. What’s its primary purpose? In my mind, the ultimate goal of a work of fiction is entertainment. I write my stories to entertain my readers as well as myself. I don’t deliberately set out to write a book that speaks to current social conventions or is a thesis on women in a patriarchal society. If I were to happen to write a book like that, cool, but it’s not something I have in mind when I write my stories.
If I were to see a discussion of my work in terms of its meaning in the greater scheme of things, I’d probably frown and go huh? I didn’t write it with the intent to discuss the meaning of life. I just wanted to write a good book that entertains my readers—a book that takes them away from their problems if only for a short time.
So what do you think? Are in depth, “literary-type” reviews a way to legitimize romance? Do we need to write stories that contain a “message” in addition to a good story with an HEA? Or maybe as usual, I’m over analyzing the whole thing. *shrug* But at least I got a topic out of it. *grin*