Hello, I’m Rosalie Ash, and this is my very first blog post ever, (help! please be nice to me!).
I’m a lover of writing and reading romance, so clearly I’m biased. But I often reflect on the phenomenon of the popularity of romance novels. Statistics published by the Romance Writers of America show that romance fiction
was the largest share of the U.S consumer market in 2010 at 13.4%. In the UK, romance is the biggest selling genre of them all. So, lots and lots of readers love romantic fiction. I wonder if the popularity of these love stories stems from their healing effect on the reader. When life seems hard, the lure of a well-written romantic novel is escapism at its best, a happy world where we can forget our troubles and wallow in borrowed warmth.
I’m mystified when I hear people sneer at romantic fiction. (I know, unbelievable, but people do, honestly!). I mean, serious Booker Prize-type literature has its place in the reading world. But do we want to escape into it at the end of a horrible day?
Picture me, just as an example, as Ms Fortyish Divorced Working Single Mother. I have had a really bad day, slaving for a boss cloned from Meryl Streep in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. The Care Home for the Bewildered has rung to say my early-onset Alzheimers mother has escaped into town again in her underwear. The Childcare Nursery have phoned to say my three year old has chicken pox. My ex-husband has emailed to say he’s been made redundant and can he pay less child support. I sit in a commuter traffic–jam on the motorway for an hour in freezing fog. I get home to find the central heating has broken down. When finally I have done my best to deal with all these crises, I collapse into bed with a cup of cocoa. I switch on my electric blanket. I inspect the books on my bedside locker.
There are two options; an award-winning literary masterpiece lent to me by a well-meaning friend, or a chic-lit romantic novel by one of my favourite authors. The literary novel is about a character battling a war-torn and starving world, before descending into mental illness and ultimately dying alone and unloved in a rented basement to be eaten by Alsatians. The chic-lit novel is about a humorous, likeable character triumphing over life’s adversities, bravely dealing with hardships, conquering her fears and ultimately finding the warmth of passion, and lifelong true love with The One. Choosing the story to dive into, to cheer me up, and reassure me that life is still worth living? Duh, quite easy!
Bed is a good place to read. But my best winter reading place is on the sofa in front of the fire in my sitting room, with some scented candles burning on my old pine chest and just one reading light on beside me. My very favourite authors include Nora Roberts, Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell, Sophie Kinsella, Carmen Reid, (oh the joy of seeing a new book out by any of these!) But I also really love reading psychological thrillers, romantic suspense, romantic thrillers, and anything with a spooky ghost theme, and enjoy writers like PD James, Ruth Rendell, Phil Rickman, and Barbara Erskine. Oh, and then back to favourites in the romance genre there’s Jayne Ann Krentz, Liz Fielding, Ann Mather, Catherine George and the late great Charlotte Lamb and more recently sadly missed Penny Jordan.
When is your favourite time to escape into a romantic novel?
Where do you curl up when you find time to read them?
Who are your favourite authors?
I’d love to hear from you!