Has courtship given way to seduction?

'Whatever happened to Charlotte Lamb, Janet Daley, Lillian Peake, Anne Hampson and Flora Kidd?' asks PANKAJA SRINIVASAN in The Hindu today, the online edition of India's national newspaper, in a short nostalgic piece questioning the modern ethos of the romance genre.

'And the romantic Mills & Boon novels we grew up with — M&Bs as we affectionately called them? ... Delightful euphemisms have yielded to startlingly explicit prose. More than just smouldering looks are exchanged and more than just inhibitions shed. Courtship has given way to seduction and sadly, romance has lost its flavour.'

Srinivasan goes on to discuss the work of Georgette Heyer in the light of today's Harlequin and M&B romances, clearly preferring old-fashioned tales of polite society to the streamlined prose and explicit bedroom scenes of today's writers.

So has romance lost its tension by going beyond the bedroom doors? Personally, I'm not sure if the explicit nature of the sex in these novels is the problem. Charlotte Lamb's novels were both well-written and startlingly sexy, and although the actual physical contact was often hinted at rather than described in the sort of detail you find in today's romantic fiction, she is celebrated as having been the first M&B writer to fully describe the female orgasm in her ground-breaking novel of 1978, The Long Surrender. Taking romance beyond that last page kiss did nothing but good for the genre back in the seventies. But is the current gradual shift towards erotica what this genre needs to stay progressive and relevant to contemporary women, or is it a case of one kiss too many?

You can read the article in full at The Hindu online.


Popular Posts