[LMB] OT: Jasper Fforde

Corrina Lavitt corrinal at cox.net
Thu, 20 Nov 2003 14:34:05 -0500

James Burbridge said:
> I've read all three Fforde books and strongly recommend them.
> I _don't_ like Jane Eyre, by the way -- I think of it as a
> self-indulgent spiritual ancestor of the Harlequin romance.  But I like
> the Fforde (that really should be fforde, since the double-f stands in
> for a single capital F, but _he_ spells it that way) riffs on it.
Just a word in concerning 'self-indulgent spiritual ancestor of the
Harlequin romance.'

And this is nothing personal, just a knee-jerk reaction to defend the
romance genre that has developed over the past few years, when I realized my
own initial impressions of the genre were just plain *wrong.*

First off, the proper ancestors of the Harlequin romance were contemporaries
of Jane Eyre. There was a publishing company specializing in the Harlequin
romances of their day--their corporate ancestor is presently Britian's Mills
and Boon. So, no doubt a book of the stature of Jane Eyre has had an impact
on romance writing in general, but it's not a direct spiritual ancestor.

However, I will point that Edward Rochester could be viewed as a spiritual
ancestor to one Aral Vorkosigan. Rochester is the prototypical dark,
brooding hero weighed down by responsibility and honor, and with a bleak
sense of humor. Which is not to say that Aral was created with Rochester in
mind (the FAQ points to Athos of Dumas' Three Musketeers) but given that
Jane (Austen) is one of the writers mentioned in CC's dedication, it seems
that Lois must be at least *familiar* with Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester.

Lois has a huge crossover audience in the romance community--I first picked
up the books because the President of the New England Romance Writer's
Association insisted I borrow her copy of CH. And I have to say to Lois, if
you read this, that I feel extremely grateful for your comment in
"Dreamweaver's Dilemma" that romance writers and readers really "get dumped
on" for their reading choices.

Romance paperback sales account for over 50 percent of all fiction paperback
sales. SF/F accounts for less than six percent. It is true that over 90
percent of HQ/Silhouette category books are dreck--but I've found that's
also true of high percentages of SF/F. Of the romance authors who write and
or once wrote 'self-indulgent' HQ novels:

Nora Roberts--as JD Robb, creator of one of the best fictional heroines
ever, Eve Dallas

Patricia Gaffney, who wrote great historical novels, including the very fun
"Crooked Hearts" and now writes incredibly beautiful contemporary novels
like "The Saving Graces."

Janet Evanovich, author of the best-selling Stephanie Plum series.

Jennifer Crusie, last novel "Faking It." She's also the author of "Tell Me
Lies" a contemporary women's fiction novel that has very similar emotional
elements to "Komarr" (which I like to call SF women's fiction) -both feature
women trapped in bad marriages, with children and also trapped in a large
part by society. If you enjoyed "Komarr," you'll enjoy this book.

Barbara Samuel aka Ruth Wind, who wrote the wonderful "No Place Like Home,"
which is also women's fiction, about a older women coming back to her
hometown, trying to fit in and belong to her family. I love this book. I
felt the love in this book.

I think a large part of the general disrespect for the romance genre is
because it's written for and by women. Our society tends to devalue to some
degree what women find important as 'sappy' or even meaningless. For
instance, the bestselling author in the United States, bar none, is Nora
Roberts. Stephen King has writer's block compared to Nora Roberts. But
Stephen King is now gaining respect and it's often assumed he's America's
bestselling author.

Nora Roberts is that 'romance' author--and it's not because there's a
difference in the quality of their writing (I've read both). It's because of
their choice of subject matter.

:gets off soapbox:

End rant. Again, not directed at James, just spurred by his comments which I
couldn't let slide by.