Monday, May 08, 2006

Romance Novel vs. Chick Lit

When I was much younger (ehem…) I was already reading books like Sweet Valley High. Then it progresses to a much heavier romance novel like Mills and Boon. My mom used to take me to this book rental shop called Novel House in SS2. That is where I would get my supply of novels such as Loveswept and Mills and Boon. Aaahh…those were the days.

When I got older I loved reading books by Judith McNaught like Something Wonderful, Whitney, My Love or Kingdom of Heavens set in medieval times or the ones set in modern times such as Paradise and Perfect. She puts humour into her writing and everytime I read her books I would either be laughing my head off or cry my eyes out.
A friend of mine is hooked on romance novel. I told her that reading a Chick lit is better because it’s not too fantasy-like and not all men in there are filthy rich and drop dead gorgeous. It’s more “real” that romance novel. So we got into a discussion on what is the difference between a chick lit and a romance novel.

I can see one vast difference between a chick lit and a romance novel. The cover of the novel. For romance novel the cover shouts "Desire". Packaging is one way for a reader to tell the difference between the two.

Romance novel often show an illustration or photograph of a man and a woman in a tender embrace or in a near kiss. And all the men are usually half naked. You can almost see the chest hair. Euww. Meanwhile chick lit often fearture an illustration or sketch of a solitary woman or a group of women or sometimes just a lipstick or shopping bags or colourful fonts as the title.

Romance novel follow a certain formula. Its most important element is that the hero and heroine wind up "happily ever after together". In other words, True Love Triumphs. The thrill for the readers is that they can follow the couple through their ups and downs to a final destination where the two profess their true love for each other. Example of a romance novel plot -->"Masquerading as a servant girl makes for a summer of mischievous madness for Cassandra, the mistress of Bramfield Park. When dashing Lord Peter Courtney comes to call, she must hide behind her disguise—or reveal a love touched by summers’s warmth..."

Chick lit allows the reader to experience even more dramatic circumstances, but without the certainty that the heroine will end up with the man she's fallen in love with. They also allow the reader to follow more than just the heroine's romantic life. They draw on all aspects of a woman's life like work, motherhood, friendship and not driven primarily by romance. One good example is Helen Fielding’s The Bridget Jones’s Diary which deals with issues like weight problems, addiction to ciggies, crazy parents and life as a 20something singleton in London.

Chick Lit describes a type of commercial fiction centering on the adventures of a young working woman. She usually has a rubbish boyfriend and nagging mother. Sometimes she has a cat too. The book itself frequently has a bright pink cover and includes copious quantities of sex. Often there is witty, self-deprecating humor.

Whatever it is, women have been at one point of their lives hooked on romance novel. We like to believe than there are knights in shining armour out there waiting to save us. As we get older the image of this knight seemed to get more blur and finally in the end we realized that there are no knights in shining armour, only ordinary men trying their best to make life a little bit better for us women and that only we can save ourselves.