From Chicks to Hens

Purple_Fedora_hatChristina here. I’ve been thinking about so called “hen lit” recently, as I read some books that could be put in that category. It’s usually defined as stories with older heroines, and Wikipedia also calls it “matron lit”, a term I vehemently dislike! I mean, just because you’ve hit a certain age doesn’t mean you automatically turn into a “matron”, does it? I’m of the mindset of the poem Warning by Jenny Joseph, about breaking the rules when you get old, wearing purple and doing things you shouldn’t just because you can – that is the way I want to age, not conforming to any mould.

FredericaWhat do we consider an older heroine? I’m guessing women from the age of about forty/forty-five and upwards, although to me forty now seems fairly young. (Yes, I’m already that old!) It’s all very subjective, but the actual age doesn’t really matter – it’s the fact that they are not pretty young things any more, waiting for their big love story and Happy-Ever-After with a gorgeous man, two point five children, and a lovely house with a picket fence. Instead they are older and (hopefully) wiser than the average romance heroine, and may already have been there and done that. Also got the T-shirt and discarded it.

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Feelgood Fiction

Feelgood balloonChristina here. I recently attended a writers'/readers' conference in Sweden called the FEELGOOD FESTIVAL. 200 readers congregated in the very picturesque town of Sigtuna (founded by Vikings in the 10th century and full of runestones so paradise for me!) to hear a day-long series of chats/discussions about various aspects of feelgood fiction. To me that term means romance, but as I listened to the authors being interviewed it quickly became clear that to Swedes it has a much broader meaning.

Sigtuna townRomance as a genre is severely under-represented in Sweden, where the largest sections of the book stores are devoted to crime/thrillers/Scandi Noir and more literary oeuvres. The upswing in popularity of what they call feelgood books is a recent (and to readers like me a very welcome) development that seems to be growing in strength every day. And yet, when I visited the biggest book store in Stockholm afterwards, they didn’t have a dedicated section for such stories – not even a table with recommendations. Not good!

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Acting Your Age

Christina here. Something I was doing recently made me think about the phrase ‘acting your age’ and I realised I don’t like it. Not one bit. Why should we have to act in a certain way just because we happen to have lived a particular number of years? Isn’t it up to us how we act? And age is just a number anyway – on the inside, I’m pretty sure we are all still much younger than our outside would suggest. Do we really need to lose that youthful enthusiasm entirely just because society’s norms dictate that it should be so?

Ripped jeansMy mother is both my biggest fan and my fiercest critic, and she strongly objects to some of my choices. Silly things, like me wearing ripped jeans for example – she thinks I’m too old for that and told me that “old ladies don’t wear clothes with holes in them”. First of all, why not if the holes are meant to be there? And secondly, for the record I’m no spring chicken but I’m not THAT old either! Besides, ripped jeans are the fashion so I resent not being allowed to wear them if I want to. I happen to like that look and if others can, so can I.

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