Hi, Jo here, delighted to welcome Dr. Catherine Roach to the Word Wenches. Catherine is Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Alabama. I attended her fascinating at the Romantic Novelists Association conference last July and invited her to be a guest on the blog. I'm so pleased she agreed, because her feminist angle on romance novels made me think, and what's more, she's a romance novelist herself.
Her talk was about the core claims of the romance storyline — the underlying beliefs of the romance reader and the messages contained in the books, and I thought many of them are particularly powerful in historical romance.
However, I'll begin at the end, with Catherine's final paragraph in her paper, as it sets up the discussion. "The romance story. An analysis of the human condition. A prescription for happiness. A blue print for how to live the good life. An illusion. A recipe for disaster. An addiction. A universal truth. Esteem enlivened by desire. The bonding of two into one. The brainwashing of individuals by power structures with something to gain. You decide. Me, I think it's some of all of the above. And more."