Thirteen years ago, when my newly formed book club was mapping out its first year of reading, one of our original members declared, “Okay, ladies, just let it be known: I’ll read anything except throbbing thighs and heaving bosoms.” We all got a good laugh, but I was glad she spoke up. I don’t like modern romance novels either.
By the number of such books on the market, however, it seems somebody does. Sales of romantic and its naughty cousin erotic fiction for 2016 were estimated at $1.5 billion—yes, that’s billion with a “b.” It’s the top-selling sector of the book market, beating science fiction, mystery, and literary novels.
Wow. If only I could bring myself to write such stuff. But I can’t write what I don’t want to read. I barely got through the first Fifty Shades of Grey, which I felt compelled to check out of the library to see what all the hoopla was about. I don’t know what happened to Anastasia and Christian after book one, and I don’t care–unlike lots and lots of other people, who bought the second and third volumes of the trilogy and went to see the movie.
I’m afraid Jane Austen has ruined me. My romance novels have to be gentle, full of intrigue and social commentary. I sigh over Mr. Darcy, now forever imagining him as Colin Firth portrayed him. Ever so much more refined than that kinky Christian Grey. And I’ve yet to see a modern-day romance with anything close to the great line that begins Pride and Prejudice.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
Oh, my. I think I just felt my bosom heave.