Romance novels are gateways to another world. They are a way to escape the tedium of our everyday life by visiting an alternate world where men and women struggle but find a way to live happily ever after. Despite the escapism there are a number of very real parallels to the tedium of our everyday life. Let’s face it, no matter how hard we try to escape if there isn’t some way for us to relate to the struggles of everyday life there is no connection. The book is lost on us.
There are very real daily struggles in every book though, despite how frequently things work out in the end.
We are all encountered by family struggles and dysfunctions at some point in our lives. That is what makes books like Down and Out in Beverly Heels relatable to us even if the main character isn’t at the start. In this case the heroine was an actress who had it all: wealth, love, and the perfect life. Then she lost it all. These themes are something that we encounter on an everyday basis. These family struggles are what compel us to pick up the books and keep turning the pages. We need to know that things can be okay.
Every romance novel has some level of scorn embedded in the theme. The hero’s integrity is called into question for some reason. The reason may be based on fact and he is trying to turn his life around. The reason may be based on rumors that he is trying to overcome.
Enter the heroine. She is struggling with some everyday problem when she encounters the hero. Something about the hero is endearing to her. Perhaps she feels some level of sympathy for his troubled past; perhaps she has a good heart. Regardless of the reason there are often times when a novel presents the heroine with scorn from the family, friends, or the entire town.
These examples of scorn are presented in Finding Colin Firth. We can all relate to the scorn they face, even if not directly under the same circumstances. The scorn pushed on to them plays on our sympathy as well and keeps us reading. We have a need to know how they overcome it. Perhaps the way they overcome will work for us as well.
Reality of Mortality
While a novel may not directly deal with someone dying, there are often underlying themes of mortality. A common theme is when the heroine has lost a father or husband and is struggling to make ends meet. Some novels even go into the technical details of dealing with death. Jane Austen, for example, went into great detail about the importance of understanding and choosing an appropriate life insurance plan - similar to questions asked on NerdWallet. Many novels face the reality of mortality, this is a theme that none of us are immune to.
We all wonder what will happen when we or someone we love and depend on dies. Life changes such as marriage or the birth of a child make this reality more acute. Understanding and accepting that we will die is a hard pill to swallow. That does not mean we shouldn’t be educated on how to protect our loved ones and ourselves. The reality of mortality is unavoidable, making it a very relatable theme.
No matter what the overall theme of the novel is, the underlying themes are very real, very relatable, and very much the reason we continue to pick up the books. In the end, we want the happily ever after.
Photo Credits: Lel4nd