Friday, January 13, 2006

Romance Novels, Bad and Good (And SBTG)

I received an amazing, belated, one-of-a-kind, straight-from-the-heart sort of Christmas gift on Wednesday, the kind of gift that makes you sit up straighter and say, "I love my life and I love my friends." At first glance, this remarkable present is anything but prepossessing. If you must know, it is an entry in Harlequin's Men From the 50 States series entitled In Good Faith. Appropriately enough, it's set on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

So what makes this book so wonderful? Is it the heroine's charming colleagues, fellow professors at Columbia, who exchange "witty" banter about her spinsterhood and calculate how many cows her various beauty spots would fetch on the marriage mart in Africa? Is it the way the hero's "pelt" of chest hair and penchant for staring at the heroine's crotch cause her breasts to visibly grow larger? Is it the gaggle of old Polish Jews or Christians (they are periodically referred to as both) who plot to bring the hapless pair together?

NO! It is surely the handwritten notes on all of the above in the book's margins courtesy of Kate D and the inimitable Theresa. Thanks for making me feel a part of your Seattle sojourn. Though the fiance was not too pleased with my uproarious laughter last night while he was trying to sleep.

I'm not sure if this book is so bad it's good. It's certainly bad. Would I enjoy it as much if I didn't have my friends' hilariously witty comments to spur me on? Is anything really "so bad it's good" until we share it with like-minded critics?

And, to conclude, a recommendation for an excellent novel that, while it wouldn't meet with the RWA's ten point description of the essence of the romance genre, contains one of the most beautiful love stories I've read in years. Ian McEwan's Atonement. Read it. Cry. Read that last chapter again. Cry again. You get the idea.


Theresa said...

You missed the fun when Kate D. was laughing so hard she couldn't speak and her dad (think John Wayne) read the offending passage aloud in her stead. I think I laughed for two days straight.

So what's your contender for The Worst Romance Novel Ever Written?

And are you in Y-town today?

Kate D. said...

Ah! Miss you both so much! I finally sent "Riley in the Morning" off to its new owner... that was also fun, listening to my uncle read off the part about angel rapists.

guile said...

atonement.. i just love that book by ian mcewan :)..