Beginning with Jane Austen and excited by an endless list of summer debuts, I’ve been thinking a lot about romance books recently.
I have never really been a fan of chick-lit or the wider romance genre. This is absolutely a matter of preference, but I have found I like the romance to be a side-plot rather than the main storyline. I prefer books that characterise slowly and incorporate lots of plot, whereas I have found romance books to be relatively short, usually as the ending is easily calculable. I am also a huge fan of world building and the way in which writers can invent completely new societies, which are usually not mainstays of romance, most often set in our world/the modern world.
As I have been compiling the romance books I want to read, I have found that it is indeed a genre of its own. It is tempting to lump it in with contemporary lit, but I think there are tropes here that show exactly why it is its own genre – and then, of course, there’s the fantasy romance/YA romance and all of those other genre mixes!
Anyway, all of this aside, there are a few books I’m hoping to read this year and I thought I’d list them here.
Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan
I’ve read an excerpt (and seen the movie) and I’m pretty intrigued! I think this is one of the quintessential books of the genre and, well, I enjoyed the film!
Synopsis: When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back.
If I enjoy it I plan on reading: Sex and Vanity
Sweet Sorrow – David Nicholls*
I keep seeing this writer everywhere, and the plot of this book intrigued me so I thought I’d give it a go. I always think I won’t enjoy retrospective stories, but often the tragedy of a past love or grief or moment is written so captivatingly I enjoy them anyway. Mostly just hoping there’s no manic pixie dream girl stuff going on here!
Synopsis: In 1997, Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember in the school photograph. His exams have not gone well. At home he is looking after his father, when surely it should be the other way round, and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread. Then Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope.
*This used to be The Flat Share but I changed it. I think I’ll enjoy this one more!
On the other hand, this is exactly the kind of book synopsis that interests me. I think my primary disinterest towards romance literature is largely that many of the stories are similar – about young people in a similar rotation of jobs and circumstances, so this should be a fun, different read.
Synopsis: Family and colleagues find Susan Green prickly and hard to understand – but Susan makes perfect sense to herself. Age 45, she thinks her life is perfect. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a steady job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits. Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control.
A Sally Rooney kinda vibe? Honestly, I think this is being marketed a little too much like Conversations With Friends (look how similar the covers are!) but it is, again, a pretty popular new release and I did enjoy Rooney’s writing. It was also shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, which I’m doing a challenge involving atm, so that’s a bonus!
Synopsis: Two couples find themselves at a moment of reckoning. Melissa has a new baby and doesn’t want to let it change her. Damian has lost his father and intends not to let it get to him. Michael is still in love with Melissa but can’t quite get close enough to her to stay faithful. Stephanie just wants to live a normal, happy life on the commuter belt with Damian and their three children but his bereavement is getting in the way.
The Cruel Prince
This seems a mix of romance, fantasy and YA. It is not usually a book I would pick up, but many blogs I enjoy recommend it and I’ve heard lots of good things about the final in this trilogy, so I’m happy to give it a go!
Synopsis: One terrible morning, Jude and her sisters see their parents murdered in front of them. The terrifying assassin abducts all three girls to the world of Faerie, where Jude is installed in the royal court but mocked and tormented by the Faerie royalty for being mortal. As Jude grows older, she realises that she will need to take part in the dangerous deceptions of the fey to ever truly belong. But the stairway to power is fraught with shadows and betrayal. And looming over all is the infuriating, arrogant and charismatic Prince Cardan . . .
If I enjoy it I plan on reading: The Wicked King
This might be a cheat entry on this list, but I have not yet started the next book in my Jane Austen Read, and I’ve decided it will be this one. Who better to go to for romance?!
Synopsis: After her impoverished family sends her to live with her wealthy aunt and uncle at opulent Mansfield Park, Fanny Price finds her life forever changed by the aristocratic Bertrams and the city-dwelling Crawford siblings. But is it for the better? While the others seem content to abandon what’s right to further their own interests, Fanny decides to hold true to her heart—a choice that will make or break her future.
The Book of Two Ways
Synopsis: Dawn is a death doula, and spends her life helping people make the final transition peacefully. But when the plane she’s on plummets, she finds herself thinking not of the perfect life she has, but the life she was forced to abandon fifteen years ago – when she left behind a career in Egyptology, and a man she loved. Against the odds, she survives, and the airline offers her a ticket to wherever she needs to get to – but the answer to that question suddenly seems uncertain.
Synopsis: Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan. A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold.
Both this book and the above are from my list about authors I’m returning to this half of the year – and surprisingly they are both romance! One of my favourite things about this genre (so far) is that there always seem to be new releases, so surely you are bound to find something you enjoy? I’ve expanded a little more on why I want to read them in that post, but suffice to say I’m looking forward to it.
One of the things I’m most excited for in reading these books is the slightly more edited page length. As much as I love long books, it can be tricky to complete them all, and as I’ve been reading a lot of both sci-fi and literary fiction, I have been getting through a lot of pages, often plot-heavy or full of intense figurative techniques. I look forward to excellent writing in a slightly simpler fashion.
Do you like this genre? Have you read any of these books? What do you recommend I should add to my romantic reading list?