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20/30 Day Book Meme: Romance Novels

Day 20: Favorite romance book

I have never been a romance reader and will never be one. Strictly speaking, if romance novel in this prompt refers one pulled out of the romance aisle at the bookstore, I don’t have anything to offer. I have attempted to read out of my comfort zone, literary fiction and literature, and venture into sci-fi, mystery and true crime fiction, which all to a different extent afford satisfaction. But not romance. It doesn’t possess any allure. In the capacity of a romance novel that is not strictly “romance,” A Room with a View is the perfect romantic story disguised in literary fiction that explores the changes that were occurring in ways of thinking. E.M. Forster is the master critique and observer of England during the Edwardian period. In this short novel with quick turn of events, he lays down most of his key themes. A Room with a View is a comedy of manner that mocks those who follow neither the heart nor the brain. They yield to the only enemy that matters—the enemy within. Over time they are being censured as their pleasantry and piety show cracks, the wit becomes cynicism, and their unselfishness hypocrisy. Full of puns and metaphors, the book is a stunning study of contrasts in values. Previously, I have picked Lucy Honeychurch as my favorite female character for her self-enlightenment and transformation from a girl who lives according to social conventions and expectations to a woman who acts on her own desire and heart. Until she finds her real self, she cannot see her intentions and her emotions don’t match; her conscious and subconscious are in dispute.

Another romance novel that comes to mind, although on the grim side, is The Painted Veil by Somerset Maugham. A newly-wed couple moves to Hong Kong for the husband’s post in the British colony. The wife begins an affair with a businessman whom she met at a dinner party. When the husband finds out, little did she expect that instead of divorcing her, Walter forced her to go with him to Meitanfu, a Chinese city laying in the deadly grip of pestilence, where cholera had claimed the lives of 100 a day. Vengeance? Pay back? Does he ever condone her offense? The tragedy is not the fact that she cheated on him, but the fact that she alone had been blind to his merit and that he loved her more than he ought to. She wished to extricate from her unhappy situation with no intention of causing him pain. It’s the most bittersweet romance novels, but written in literary grace.