Parting the Velvet Curtain

Earlier this month, the online magazine of the Smithsonian Institution published an article entitled Why Can’t Romance Novels Get Any Love? It is about the growing attention, and, dare I say, respect, which the romance genre has begun to garner in recent years. Sarah Frantz Lyons, outré romance editor, reviewer, consultant, and devoted scholar of the genre was interviewed for this article. It is she who is eager to throw open the velvet curtain which she feels has kept romance novels separate from other popular genres.

I was most intrigued by her comment that the arguments which were made against the romance novels read by young ladies in the eighteenth century are pretty much the same arguments which are still being used against romance novels by those who do not approve of them in modern times. The more things change, the more they stay the same, as the old saw goes. Being a life-long lover of Regency romance, I was delighted to see that sub-genre top her list of the romance sub-genres which deserved serious attention from academics. It was also heartening to learn that quite a number of prestigious colleges and universities are offering courses or full programs on romance novels.

Something else which struck me while reading this article is that it is the happily-ever-after ending of romance novels which so many of their critics seem to find especially objectionable. I find that particularly odd, since it is the certainty of the happy ending which most attracts me to romance novels. I can relax and enjoy the character’s interactions knowing that no matter the conflict, they will eventually come together. What a lovely break from my routine, ordinary life those stories are for me. Why would someone want to deny me, or any other reader of romance novels, that pleasurable escape? Well, I, for one, am going to ignore that dog-in-the-manger attitude and continue to enjoy reading romance novels!


4 thoughts on “Parting the Velvet Curtain

  1. I agree with you; it’s good to know that it will be all right in the end, no matter what tribulations our characters undergo to get there. Indeed, one of the reason I don’t enjoy so-called literary fiction is that too often things don’t end well, and one is left wondering what was the point of the book.

    However, I suspect that the real reason the romance genre isn’t given the credit it deserves is because it is seen as belonging to women and is therefore inferior. The disdain for romance reflects the endemic sexism in society.

    • Heavy sigh! I think you are right about the female association with romance. Which may also explain why science fiction seldom gets the kind of knocks romance does, since it has a heavy male readership. But in the end, I just feel sorry for them, since they are unable to enjoy their own emotions and need all that weird stuff to entertain them. I will stick with nice, human, civilized, lovely romance!


  2. It is really a shame that the romance genre isn’t given the respect it deserves. Especially since many of the historical romances are meticulously researched and contain a great deal of information about world events at the time.

    • You are absolutely right! For just one example, Georgette Heyer’s The Infamous Army is considered such an excellent and detailed study of the Battle of Waterloo that is is required reading at a number of military schools, including Sandhurst.

      Oh sigh! Maybe now that the romance genre is getting the attention of serious academics, perhpas that attitude will change. Even if it doesn’t, I love reading romance novels and have no intention of giving them up, no matter what anyone says, until I am dead! 😉

      Thanks for stopping by!



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