The Week in Arts: Let's leave realism out of romantic fiction

Share
Related Topics

I was pleased to see my former
Independent colleague, Jojo Moyes, win the Parker Romantic Novel of the Year award for her book
Foreign Fruit. Or perhaps I should say in the vernacular of the award: "My heart gave an involuntary flutter as the shy, innocent girl I remembered seemed every inch the confident woman as she went to the podium, quivering only slightly as she received her prize from that redoubtable matron, Germaine Greer."

I was pleased to see my former Independent colleague, Jojo Moyes, win the Parker Romantic Novel of the Year award for her book Foreign Fruit. Or perhaps I should say in the vernacular of the award: "My heart gave an involuntary flutter as the shy, innocent girl I remembered seemed every inch the confident woman as she went to the podium, quivering only slightly as she received her prize from that redoubtable matron, Germaine Greer."

The Romantic Novel of the Year award tends not to receive much coverage in the press, and Ms Greer's speech at the Savoy Hotel has gone unnoticed. But this column is not at all scared of romance, and is only marginally scared of Germaine Greer.

So let's examine what she did say in her speech, a speech which caused startled mutterings, and some decidedly unromantic hissing, from the diners at the ceremony. She spent some time talking about how all men in romantic fiction, from Mr Darcy onwards, were absent, unemotional and forbidding, basically representing "the unrequited love for the father". She also talked at some length about her own father, who couldn't kiss or hug her because of his own complicated sexual feelings, and claimed that all little girls long for the man "who could never love her in the way she needed to be loved" (a few very audible hisses at this stage).

She ended by entering a plea for more romantic fiction about the love between older women and younger men - "Let's substitute the son ... for the father!" she declared. Actually, in the winning book, one of the male romantic leads is the teenage son of a fruit importer, the other a quiet, unassuming pensioner.

Nevertheless, Greer may well have a point. She has her own commercial imperatives for talking about the supposed attraction for older women for teenage boys. It forms the subject of her most recent book. But she is right that, generally, romantic fiction rarely moves away from the stereotypical attraction of young woman for older and, usually, emotionally restrained man.

Romantic fiction still represents only a percentage of romantic love. Gay relationships remain a rarity, and one would need encyclopaedic literary knowledge to name five in the whole of romantic fiction. Indeed, recalling just one isn't that easy. And for all Germaine Greer's best efforts, older woman/younger man is still not seen as the stuff of romance. Romantic novelists and their publishers have the opportunity to extend the boundaries of fiction. They can not only redefine accepted criteria for the novel. Perhaps Germaine Greer should write the new romantic novel.

Lights ... sexual chemistry ... action!

* Screen chemistry is actually all about chemistry. So say the chemists. The Royal Society claimed this week that the most successful on-screen pairings had a chemical reaction. A spokesman said: "Like anything to do with chemistry, it is all about mixing up a cocktail of ingredients to get the right result. With men and women it can be the chemical attraction of love, with pheromones and other hormones being released and the two obviously attracted to each other. Tracy and Hepburn, Bogart and Bacall, Taylor and Burton are all good examples."

Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe had a negative reaction on The Prince and the Showgirl. I suspect this was also to do with Olivier telling Monroe: "Marilyn, be sexy." She did not appreciate the implication that her most celebrated innate quality was a trick any decent actor could do. I take the Olivier view. The chemistry between Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray in Lost in Translation (pictured) is terrific because they are both fine actors. And fine actors cannot only "be sexy"; they can also "do" chemistry.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sales Perfomance Manager. Marylebone, London

£45-£57k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

£45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

Marketing Manager

£36000 - £38000 per annum: Charter Selection: Charter Selection are working wi...

Accounts Assistant, Hammersmith

£25000 per annum: Charter Selection: Exciting sports company with a strong bra...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Brazil fans are devastated while watching the first half on Copacabana Beach during the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final match between Brazil and Germany on July 8, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The winner advances to the final at the famed Maracana stadium.  

The response to Brazil's defeat has been a surreal exploration of loss and tragedy

Timothy Kennett
The Daily Prophet newspaper - closer to fact than fiction?  

The response of the muggle press to the new Harry Potter story is fantastically ironic

Anna Leszkiewicz
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil