Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Titanic, Chocolate Truffles and Romance Novels

Which is bad for your health: chocolate truffles or romance novels?

No, it's not a trick question, but a recent article in the UK and also in the LA Times discusses the perils of reading romance novels and how it might affect your health.

You can read the article here, but basically it seems we're getting our fantasies mixed up with reality. I don't know about you, but I read romance for the same reason I like raspberry truffles.

They make you feel good.

And I'm not giving up either one.

Especially as I work on my latest novel, Katie O’Reilly, the story of an enterprising Irish lass who takes the place of the Countess of Marbury when the Titanic sinks, and how a dashing gambler, a wealthy industrialist and a bet made between them changes her life.

Enjoying chocolate truffles and an uplifting romance novel warm my writer's soul when I've finished my page count or editing for the day. And believe me, I've got a lot of pages to write and edit in a book that's getting close to the 500 page mark as I write this blog.

Whoever knew so much could happen on a ship that sank less than five days into her maiden crossing when Katie O’Reilly meets Captain Lord Blackthorn. Are they willing to risk everything for love?

The grand ship Titanic with her 2,228 passengers and crew sank at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912 on a cold, bitter night in the North Atlantic. Only 705 survived.

What did the passengers do during the crossing? Besides making mad, passionate love in luxury motorcars in the cargo hold or in a sumptuous Louis XV stateroom?

They read books.

Novels, mostly.

Both first and second class passengers had reading rooms where books were available to them. The first class reading room was designed with the ladies in mind (many gentlemen spent their time in the smoking room where the ship's one sheet newspaper, The Atlantic Daily Bulletin, was posted daily), painted in white with elegant furnishings.

I can imagine ladies sitting by the tall window and reading, a cup of hot tea and crisp finger sandwich by their side, then looking out onto the Promenade Deck while they warmed their feet by the roaring fire.

What would a lady be reading? Surely not a romance novel?

Guess again.

I wouldn't be surprised if she was reading "Arrows from the Dark" by Sophie Cole written in 1909, which according to the Mills and Boon website, "Critics gave it a glowing report and by 1914, 1,394 women had bought a copy. The writer went on to pen another 65 thrilling titles for the publisher during her fruitful career."

So here we are nearly a 100 years since the Titanic sank and we're still reading romance novels and doing quite well, thank you.

Raspberry truffle, anyone?


Wynter Daniels said...

Interesting post, Jina. Thanks. It's good to know the habit of reading romance has been a round for a while.

Jina Bacarr said...

Thanks, Wynter! Yes, and hopefully reading romance will be around for a very long time to come.

Dalton Diaz said...

Erotica was around, too!

Jina Bacarr said...

Dalton--a lot of privately printed erotica at this time. Do you have any examples in mind?

Dalton Diaz said...

No. Mainstream was mostly poetry and pictures until the 1920's, yes? Tho that was probably just in the western world. Damn puritans!

Jina Bacarr said...


One of my favorite erotic stories is about a group of "desperate housewives" who withhold sex from their husbands until the men stop the war.

Sound like a new reality TV show? It's the premise of the play Lysistrata written in 411 B.C. by the Greek playwright, Aristophanes.

Michelle Polaris said...

Lysistrata was ahead of its time. Hey, sounds like it may be time for another remake/rewrite of it. But I love the idea of reading the romance novel on the Titanic. I'm learning so much, Jina.

Jina Bacarr said...

Glad you're enjoying the posts, Michelle. There's so much to learn about Titanic and the Gilded Age--next time: the class system and how it affected who got into the lifeboats...

Nelson Cluck said...

Yeah I have read about this and I don't think that women (or men for that matter) who read romance novels should have to give them up unless they are actually hurting them emotionally in which case they should receive help because not being able to differentiate between a book and reality is a problem.