It's so Meta!
I was on Twitter last night and jumped into a discussion started by an author who thought that there should be fewer books about women going home to small towns and deciding to stay there and more about women who go back to the small town and realize how happy they are in the city. It melded with another discussion people were having about Lifetime or Hallmark or something TV movies always having the woman give up everything for her true love.
And I was attempting to make a point in about 60 characters at a time because there were four other people in the discussion and when you replied, all their user names were part of the message. So I said about half a sentence, then added a couple more tweets, then someone jumped down my throat...for the first one. And by this time, there were tweets I was not tagged in and so I was clicking around trying to pick up the thread of conversation and not really able to go back and say: "SOME people. I said SOME."
Twitter is about impossible to have a nuanced discussion on. Even Facebook makes more sense by grouping the messages so you can actually follow what was said. And my blog...ah, I can prose on endlessly. Prosy prosy prosy old bore.
So anyway, for the record: I believe in women and feminism and the basic precept that all humans are created equal. And I also know that some women choose to give up their other dreams to follow the love of their lives. I also know that some women (AND MEN) are willing to compromise and find a new path forward, if that path can include their life partner.
I also know that though I think romance novels are (in general. NOT ALL) by women, for women, about women and, as such, inherently feminist (constructing our own narrative!), there are a lot of women out there who have chosen (through their own ideals or societal expectations) to take a secondary role. And that these women might also read and write romance.
I'm also endlessly fascinated by the women in historical novels who fit into their society's boundaries and yet push against the boundaries when they get uncomfortable. I'm not talking the "fallen" women--no wait, I am talking about them, too--but more about the ones who have it all, or as much as they could have of "IT" when their society thoroughly hemmed them in.
A fulfilling career/occupation, a happy family, friends, society's approbation (or at least not open disapprobation), and true love.
When my character Aurore gets back together with Dominique (Indispensable Wife. Go read it), she's going back to her sometimes stifling place in the court and her role as second to her husband. BUT this is a woman who LOVES the court. She LOVES people. She is the public face of her family. She's the PR front woman, the spokesperson (along with one of her brothers and her father) of the extended clan. She is the one who makes life easy for her husband, who is reserved and outwardly cold and doesn't know all the important gossip. I can imagine Aurore as a party planner or in PR or...no, not a politician because she's not that ruthless.
But the heroine in my second book, The Honorable Officer (Out in early 2016), Hélène... I wrote her and still have trouble with her. How's that for honesty? She's crushingly shy, in part because she's been crushed down. But she has this core of loyalty that makes her leave everything that's safe and take her toddler niece, whom she has raised from birth, to unknown places to get her out of danger. And in doing so, she starts her journey toward her own core of strength. With a little support and love, she learns to speak her mind and fight back. What she wants is a safe nest to hide in. And she wants her baby to be safe. And she wants Jean-Louis, but has never been able to get his attention.
I have a feeling she is going to come off as unreconstructed and a doormat. BUT she is getting what she wants. WHAT SHE WANTS. Which isn't exactly what I ever wanted, but then I sure as HECK never wanted to be the PR frontwoman or party planner like Aurore. I'd much rather have a safe nest and happy kids....and my laptop to write books on.
I think the heroine of Book 3 (Chevalier...coming soon to a contract near you!), Catherine de Fouet, is a bit more like me. She's gotten on as best she could in life and has plans for the future. She's bitchy and sometimes ungrateful, even to the grouchy old ladies who have kept her on as a companion, but though she's mostly invisible, she can hold her head up and doesn't have a bad reputation. My critique partner thinks she's not likable enough, so I've tried to make it clearer WHY she's putting up all these walls and jabbing out at people to protect herself (besides that her mentor is the cranky, spiteful baronesse). And what Catherine wants is to keep her nose clean until she has enough money to repair her house in Normandy and live there. Her vision doesn't include a Cranky Cavalier who stomps around and smells of horse and pushes everyone away. And though the same critique partner thought he was too whiny, he almost always kept his complaints inside his head AND he stops feeling hard-done-by and more accepting, understanding, and even grateful.