Another reason to love romance novels: Historical romance author Maya Rodale has penned an article for the Huffington Post about the paperbacks‘ surprisingly feminist political history — and how women have benefited from their message.
England in the 18th and 19th centuries, Rodale says, was a hotbed of social upheaval. More people were reading, including women, and that made the government nervous.
Fear surrounded the increasing popularity of books and reading among women and poor people, particularly that of novels, which the uneducated and ignorant might mistake as an accurate guide to life. A servant girl might read the runaway bestseller Pamela by Samuel Richardson and think she can marry the Lord of the Manor and become accepted by polite society (silly girl!). Imagine a million Pamelas–a million women with the crazy idea that they can have more–and you quite possibly have the start of a revolution.
What did women gain by reading romances — and continue to today? The notion of freedom, namely. Rodale names “choice,” “adventure,” “great sex,” and “love of self” as the revolutionary concepts the books represent. Here’s her description of our favorite, “great sex.”
Great Sex: Romance novel heroines have orgasms and do not die in the end. Canonical literature is littered with heroines who have loved and lost (Juliet, Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary). Oh, we talk more about sex now, but how much of that conversation is dominated by ways to please a man in bed or the unintended health consequences? We are still a bit wary of sex with a really happy ending, especially for women.
Our recommendation: Grab your own happily ever after, no real-life duke needed, by taking things into your own hands.
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