Thursday, January 05, 2012

For Love and Money

I've often complained about books /reviewers/critics  who dismiss romance novels  in derogatory terms without ever opening a single  copy of one. So it was a great delight - and an early Christmas present to be sent a copy of a new academic book that  discusses the real nature and appeal of these novels - and is written by someone  who has read and studied many romances by many different authors in her research and preparation for this book.

I first met Laura Vivanco through the Teach Me Tonight site which always has fascinating discussions about the romance genre and you may remember that she ran an interview with me when I first had The Return of The Stranger published - discussing the way that I had worked on it with Wuthering Heights as my inspiration and the  changes, adaptations I had had to make in order to make that  classic  novel conform to the conventions of a short romance.

Now Laura has produced her own book, a study of the popular romances of Harlequin Mills and Boon  - and this time the observations and comments  in this study are based on sound opinions formed from extensive reading and knowledge of the romance novel form, its varying types. its history, and its  many authors.  

For Love and Money is a study of romance that challenges the stereotypical perception that Harlequin Mills & Boonromances are merely mass-produced commodities churned out in accordance with a strict and unchanging formula. Laura very kindly let me see a pre publication edition of this book and I found it absorbing and fascinating - with none of the teeth gritting fury that  critical works on romance so often induce. The novels are actually read as individual works, not  just pale copes of each other, each adding something  to the development of the genre that while it may move and change slowly and not very dramatically is constantly changign and adapting to the society and times in which it is written.

  And as Liz Fielding says, this is' an impressive study of the popular fiction of Harlequin  Mills & Boon that is a must read for any student of popular fiction and for those who write and love the genre.'

It was a fascinating read - and an interesti8ng opportunity for me to go back to my student days and look at the books from the 'other side' so to speak - that of studying them analytically rather than writing them creatively.

You can read more about For  Love and Money on on Liz Fielding's Blog  where Laura has given an interview  or on the Pink Heart Society site where she talks about 'Formulaic Cookie-Cutter Books' which - being Laura - she refutes that romance novels really are.

At last - a critical work on romance that I can recommend as a balanced, knowledgeable and informed read!


Caroline said...

Look interesting - thanks Kate. And since I got a Kindle for Xmas (yay!) I can go and download it ;o) - Caroline x

Maria said...

That looks like a good read. I would be interested to get my hands on that at some stage!

Laura Vivanco said...

Maria, if availability/accessibility is a problem with the Kindle edition, there's also a pdf edition which is available from the publisher and a paper edition available via Lulu.

The sample at the publisher's site includes the table of contents and the preview at Lulu includes the whole of the introduction.


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