>Literary Reviews


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*

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About Monica Burns

A bestselling author of erotic romance, Monica Burns penned her first short romance story at the age of nine when she selected the pseudonym she uses today. From the days when she hid her stories from her sisters to her first completed full-length manuscript, she always believed in her dream despite rejections and setbacks. A workaholic wife and mother, Monica believes it’s possible for the good guy to win if they work hard enough.

4 thoughts on “>Literary Reviews

  1. >Julia, thanks for posting, and I hope you had a good time at RT. Not sure whether I’ll make it next year either. The family will rise up in arms if I go to Orlando without them! LOL

    Fiction is about entertaining. If one can weave in a message in a story while keeping it entertaining, then I’ve no problem with it. But I don’t want to write that kind of a book. I want readers to come away from my works with Ahh…I enjoyed that. I feel better. It satisfied that itch.

    If I can do that, then I’ve done well.

  2. >Hi, gorgeous!

    I like intelligently written stories, whether they’re fiction or non-fiction. I like books that make me store up ideas, and ponder them (I used “ponder”! I love that word! teehee) This is not to say that everything I read is “deep and meaningful”, or has some underlying social significance. As a matter of fact, I HATE it when I pick up a book that has aspirations of being something it’s not…if you’re writing a snarky, light-hearted romp, don’t try to imbed serious political debate, or a deep discussion of religious and social mores. Let the story be what it will be.

    Some nights (literarily speaking), I’m ready to sit down to shrimp scampi and filet mignon, carefully and lovingly prepared to perfection. Other nights, I just really want chicken nuggets and fries, ya know?

    But I agree–to me, the basic goal of any work of fiction is entertainment. Anything else is a happy bonus (as long as it enhances the story).

    Love & hugs,

    (who still hopes we see each other again at some future RT)

  3. >Lynne,

    Thank you for posting. The only messages I might put in my books will be messages of hope and empowerment for women, but it will be done through the characters working through problems in their relationships to find their happy endings.

    If I touch on topics such as handicaps, survival of trauma or other issues, they’ll be integral to the character and who they are. It won’t be about the message. It will be about the character.

    Thank you so much for reading my books, and thank you for the encouragement. I love to write stories that I know will provide escapism, because I think we all need to flee reality from time to time. When I write, I get to flee reality too!

  4. >Just my thoughts on this subject.I read.I don’t watch tv nor do I see very many movies.Once I was a diehard soap fan and night time drama nut.Then they took the romance out of soaps and implanted social issues and sitcoms replace night dramas.
    PLEASE don’t stop writing the way you always have.We are fans because we like what you write.Taking romance out of the books and giving the reader reality is such a waste.
    We read to escape like you said.For those hours we loose ourselves to other worlds and romance.Sure when the book ends we are back to dull life and reality.But we choose this.Romance novels are windows opened in our hearts and souls that we normally leave shut.Mainly because real life romance falls short and leaves disappointment in it’s path.
    In a nutshell if you want to give a message in the novel great but leave the romance in.We as normal everday readers know what we like.Your books the way you write them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!