Good-Bye Heathcliff: Changing Heroes, Heroines, Roles, and Values in Women's Category Romances

Good-Bye Heathcliff: Changing Heroes, Heroines, Roles, and Values in Women's Category Romances

Good-Bye Heathcliff: Changing Heroes, Heroines, Roles, and Values in Women's Category Romances

Good-Bye Heathcliff: Changing Heroes, Heroines, Roles, and Values in Women's Category Romances

Synopsis

"Virginal Heoines, young and naive but seething with passion, change sardonic heroes into loving, monogamous husbands. Such romance novel characters and themes have been transformed by the women's movement, argues history professor Frenier in this convincing, well-researched study. Frenier surveys earlier feminist studies of women's romances and traces the evolution of the romance industry, focusing on the competition between Harlequin's more traditional British writers and the American authors of Silhouette. She finds undertones of rape and violence in late 1970s novels giving way to more explicit and equal sexuality, to gentler, more nurturing heroes matched with stronger, more experienced heroines. By the late 1980s, premarital sex and women's careers are assumed in many novels, but the heroines greatest power remains her ability to inspire her hero to addictive, obsessive love . . . the subject is fascinating." Booklist

Excerpt

By 1983, American newspapers, television, Time, Psychology Today, and even Forbes noticed the romantic fiction phenomenon. Romances had become big business.

Basically, romance fiction comes in two forms: mass-market paperbacks and category romances. the mass-market paperbacks are, relative to the latter, formula-free and more expensive. the category romances are formulaic, written using publisher's guidelines, and sold under a brand name. Both types of romances sell at newsstands, variety stores, and supermarkets, as well as in bookstores. in addition, by 1983, romances had invaded the world of trade paperbacks. These soft-cover books are usually sold only in bookstores and cost more than mass-market paperbacks. Mid-1987 mass-market paperbacks ordinarily cost $3.95 or $4.95 and romance trade paperbacks cost from $3.95 to $9.95. (Hardback romances like those of the best-selling romance author of 1987 Danielle Steel, who never published as a category writer, sold for $18.95 and $19.95.)

By 1984, publishers like Avon, Dell, and Bantam depended on romances for a large share of their profit. Other money makers were ordinary mass-market authors who could earn $30,000 from a single volume (Reed, 1981: 101). Continuing into the 1980s, there were authors like Steel, Janet Dailey, Judith Krantz, and Barbara Cartland who were "cottage industries" earning huge figures. For example, in 1982 Dailey received a $2 million cash advance . . .

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