Thursday's Thoughts: What Romance Novels Will Be Tomorrow's "Classics" ?

Thursday, June 10



A few weeks ago I was reading a post on Jessica's blog, Read React Review (formerly Racy Romance Reviews) titled Romance Roots:  Jane Eyre.  I enjoyed their debate about this beloved book.  Jane Eyre is considered "classic" fiction, despite it's being a romance story at heart,  and is one of my favorite reads.

Which got me to thinking... if novels like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice are our "romance roots", than what romance stories being written today have the potential to be a future "classic" tomorrow?  Who are the new Jane Austens and Charlotte Brontes whose writing voices bring to life such memorable characters and stories that stay with you long after "The End"?  Books that go beyond being comfort reads, or "keepers" and transcend that status to become a "classic".

At the time these classics were written they were actually contemporary with their times.  These authors were writing about things that they knew...society, the limited choices women had, and the world they lived in...and let's not forget.... love.  I've been thinking about this ever since reading Jessica's post and have to admit that I'm having a hard time thinking of current authors that I read who write contemporary romances that will stand the test of time and have future generations reading them.  I'm not saying that there aren't great reads out there, but do any of them have "classic" potential?

There are so many books being published today, a true wealth of romance available to readers like myself, that maybe it's too hard to remember, or be distinguished enough for a book being written today to rise to "classic" status.  I have many books that I consider "keepers", and even though I may never re-read them, will always have a place on my bookshelves, but only one has "classic" potential, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon...at least in my eyes and even then it's a historical novel and is considered general fiction,  I will always consider it a romance.  It's not contemporary to our times like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice were, so I disqualified it since it's not set in contemporary times.  Which brings me back to my question...What contemporary romances currently being written have the potential to be remembered and considered classics 150 years from now? Are there any, or is the idea of a "classic" no longer relevant in our world today for a variety of reasons (women's liberation, general lack of social taboos anymore, or even our short term memory want it now culture)?

When I think about it in those terms, it makes me kind of sad.  I hope that it's not true.  I hate to think that there will not be any future Lizzys or Darcys....beloved characters that will transcend time.  So I ask you again, who are your contemporary romance nominations that hold promise for future generations?  Or should I stop thinking in terms of "contemporary romance" and just go for an author who is contemporary (ie writing currently) no matter what genre or time period?

What are your thoughts, who's worthy of sitting in Jane's  vacant chair?  I'd like to know what you think.



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3 Comments:

Anna ♥ June 10, 2010 at 2:24 AM  

Oooh, tough question. I definitely agree Outlander has the classic appeal, almost every romance reader I've ever met has read the book and LOVED it to bits.

I'm pretty sure it's not considered a romance, but more general fiction, but The Time Traveler's Wife could be considered a romantic classic years from now. It has the potential, I think. Though it's not very contemporary-ish... Ah, this is really difficult, LOL.

Maybe Bridget Jones's Diary? XD It's very contemporary, but then again it's a modern Pride and Prejudice... I'm sure there are plenty of books with the classic potential, I just can't think of any. :P I think the idea of a classic book is still relevant now as there are many modern classic books written only a few decades ago, but most of those seem to be general fiction type books. I vote for going for a contemporary author! I don't read a lot of contemporary romances but the names of authors seem to be more well known than their works in romance. :P

Booklover1335 June 10, 2010 at 10:17 AM  

Hey Anna,
You know I thought about Bridget Jones too, but like you said it was just a current version of the classic P & P, so I disqualified that from my list as well.

It is a tough question which is why I haven't really come up with any and was hoping that you all might think of something that I hadn't.

I think part of the problem that I keep encountering is that most books that people consider a potential new "classic" are often categorized as general fiction, much like The Time Travelers Wife that you mentioned, even though many of the books considered "classics" today are romances...written by women, for women. It's a conundrum! Thanks for your thoughts.

vvb32 reads June 12, 2010 at 11:26 PM  

Interesting question. I immediately thought of Gabaldon, but I can see why you rule her out. I wonder if the Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal romances would fit in becoming our "contemporary" classic of the future. These stories are usually filled with modern day women and sensibilities.

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