This month I’ve been thinking about reading romance. Who does it? Why? When? And, well, what qualifies as romance? Troilus and Criseyde? Jane Eyre ? Anna Karenina? These Old Shades? Gaudy Night? Bridget Jones? Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music?
I’ve read them all and I’d say “yes but” to all of them. Many people, maybe most, would disagree with me on at least one.
On 3rd February the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association published its short list for this year’s awards. It’s the RNA”s 60th anniversary and this year there are nine categories.
My seven stories above would each fall into at least one of them.
Love is in the Air
And then there was St Valentine’s Day last Friday. That always brings out a flurry of saccharine fluff, embarrassing stunts and grimmish think pieces in the media.
Commercialism – shock, horror! Unrealistic emotional expectations from reading romance – fie, sir, write me a sonnet or leave at once! Head for the pub, lads, and fast. Continue reading →
At least our heroine’s True Love has shifted from domestic to wild birds with the Day 7 offering. And not just a wild bird but a truly beautiful one, with mythological and poetic pedigree to boot.
The swan is one of the creatures that mates for life, according to legend and, to some extent, ornithological observation. (Not 100%, apparently; but a significant percentage of couples stick together.)
Allegedly it also sings only once, at the point of death – hence the exquisitely mournful Orlando Gibbons motet
So at last we have here a gift with real subtext: love, loyalty and death. Not that jolly maybe. But certainly romantic. Hmm. Possibly a bit late, given the bird shit that must be surrounding his lady love’s residence by now. Continue reading →