Susan Elizabeth Phillips – kind-hearted fairy godmother?

I wrote last week about how my husband made me a deal: I’d read one of the novels he’s studying for his PhD (Don Delillo’s White Noise) and he’d read one of my favorite romance novels (SEP’s Natural Born Charmer). He made it through 100 pages before begging me to let him stop.

Heartless wife that I am, I told there was no way he could wriggle out of our deal.

Okay, it’s not just that I’m heartless. The main reason is that he’s very judgmental about romance novels, and I want him to at least have an understanding of what he’s judging. I don’t expect him to be a convert from reading the book. I do expect him to continue hating the genre but also be able to understand it better.

That’s certainly playing out in the discussions we’ve been having lately. When he was about 30 pages into it, I asked if he could find anything good to say about it (other than the dialogue, which he says is sometimes funny). He thought for a second and then said, “It’s very kind-hearted.”

I asked what he meant and he said it seems to be based on the premise that adults’ personalities and decisions are largely based on childhood experiences. All the characters are hurting from their early years in some way, and all are people who don’t fit in to “normal” society.

Then you have a narrator whose tone of voice is non-judgmental. You get the feeling she’s a fairy godmother who’s going to spread a balm over the characters to help them heal.

I thought that was a really lovely way of describing why I like romance novels. They’re positive and happy. You know the characters will heal by the end, and all the quirks that cause them pain and embarrassment in normal society find acceptance in a loving relationship. How beautiful is that?

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