Women and Romance Books

Throughout history women have been mocked both for what they write and what they read.

Hilarious history blog Yesterday’s Print digs through the world’s newspaper archives to find amusing clips from the past.

Here’s what The Sydney Morning Herald had to say on the 3rd of July, 1949:

The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, July 3, 1949. Women Romance Books. Vintage.


The Week: 28th May – 3rd June

The last of the Autumn Leaves Canberra Australia Autumn Colours Sonya Heaney 30th May 2018 Garden Nature 2

The last of the autumn leaves.

Release Day for Brynn Kelly

Isle of Shadows A Risk Worth Taking the third book in Brynn Kelly‘s Legionnaires series

Reconciliation Day


Bad First Sentences

Contest Announced The Worst Opening Sentences In Novels, And They Are Tough To Read. #28

More Trademark Drama

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos Canberra Australia Winter Afternoon Sonya Heaney Oksana 7th July 2017

Cocktales: the Cocky Collective

cocky-final-2 Cocktales the cocky collective cockygate cover

Want to Read: The Last Of The Bonegilla Girls by Victoria Purman

The Last Of The Bonegilla Girls by Victoria Purman

Want to Read: The Last Of The Bonegilla Girls by Victoria Purman

The Last Of The Bonegilla Girls by Victoria Purman

This one is on my to-read list:

A post-Second World War story of strong female ties and family, secrets and lies, set in the multicultural Australia of the fifties. Can the Bonegilla girls defeat their past? Or will it come to claim them?

1954: When sixteen–year–old Hungarian Elizabeta arrives in Australia with her family, she is hoping to escape the hopelessness of life as a refugee in post–war Germany. Her first stop is the Bonegilla Migrant Camp on the banks of the Murray in rural Victoria, a temporary home for thousands of new arrivals, all looking for work and a better life. There, Elizabeta becomes firm friends with the feisty Greek Vasiliki; quiet Italian Iliana; and the adventurous Frances, the daughter of the camp’s director.

In this vibrant and growing country, the Bonegilla girls rush together towards a life that seems full of promise, even as they cope with the legacy of war, the oppressive nature of family tradition and ever–present sorrow. So when a ghost from the past reaches out for Elizabeta and threatens to pull her back into the shadows, there is nothing that her friends wouldn’t do to keep her safe.

But secrets have a way of making themselves known and lies have a way of changing everything they touch…


The Last Of The Bonegilla Girls by Victoria Purman


Bonegilla was Australia’s most famous camp for refugees and migrants in the aftermath of the Second World War. My family – refugees from the Soviet Union after years of forced labour in Germany (followed by four years in displacement camps while Stalin was busy having all ethnic Ukrainians in their region executed or sent to Siberia) – passed through the camp.

I am hoping – but not expecting – that the book will mention the decades of xenophobia and outright racism southern and eastern European arrivals faced at the hands of Anglo-Australians.

We need more books like this one, and *I* need to read more books like this one. Pretty much my whole reading experience is framed by the American publishing industry these days, and US authors (other than in the Regency romance subgenre) tend to ignore the rest of the world when dealing with the past.

It’s Christmastime Again…?

The Christmas review books are here!

The other day I was startled to see Boston Ballet advertising tickets for its Christmas season of The Nutcracker, and now – as of yesterday – I’ve started seeing Christmas books being promoted.

I don’t think I need to point out it’s only April. Are you as freaked out by this as I am?

Anyway, if you’re interested, the first one I saw – The Christmas Sisters – looks so nice:

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

From award-winning USA TODAY bestselling author Sarah Morgan comes this heartwarming, emotionally rich new novel, brimming with her trademark Christmas sparkle!

The McBride sisters all have different reasons for finding the holiday season challenging, but their adoptive mother is determined this year will be different. As the countdown to Christmas Day begins, arguments, connections and secrets start bubbling. The McBride family was made, not born—but will they be able to make this the magical family Christmas their mother has always dreamed of?

‘Women are having different fantasies’: romantic fiction in the age of Trump

Women's_March_on_Washington_(32593123745) 21 January 2017 Trump Feminism


‘Women are having different fantasies’: romantic fiction in the age of Trump

This article was published in The Guardian on International Women’s Day last week, and even though it rehashed some things from recent articles (1 2) on the quickly evolving romance genre, it is definitely worth a read.

I like this part:

Rich heroes are big: a quick google throws up all sorts of novels about Greek tycoons and Italian billionaires. “It’s the fantasy that you’ll walk into a room and some guy will literally treat you like a princess … It was a clear trope – and then we elected a maybe-billionaire to president. And the way he treats women made that trope suddenly incredibly problematic.”

However, this part…?? The bolded bit is ridiculous; we’ve ALWAYS known it was a problematic series. (But: bonkbuster!)

EL James’s hugely successful bonkbuster Fifty Shades of Grey came out only six years ago, but its questionable gender politics have begun to niggle at some; the recent film adaptation of the third book, Fifty Shades Freed, was criticised for being out of step with current sentiment.

Must monsters always be male?

Cinderella Disney.

“No” evil women in fiction!

The Guardian recently ran what I consider to be a misguided article:

Must monsters always be male? Huge gender bias revealed in children’s books

Perhaps Donna Ferguson, the article’s author, has missed the fact the “evil stepmother” is a trope, but there’s no “evil stepfather”. Or that “evil, jealous sisters” feature in everything from ancient literature to children’s fairy tales.

How about all those young adult and new adult books where the mothers are all evil drunkards, the villains are always villainesses in the form of jealous blonde “popular girls”, and the most common heroine trope is the one who’s “not like other girls” and therefore has no female friends?

When I think of monsters, I think of Stalin and Hitler and Putin and Trump. I think of doctors who spend twenty years freely molesting hundreds of young gymnasts. I think of a man filling a hotel room with guns and mowing down a crowd in the space of minutes. Of all the gender biases in books, how can needing more female monsters possibly be the one that matters?

Adding more evil women to fiction, when what we need is to stop demonising women, is a step in the wrong – not the right – direction.

While the other points in the article – about the lack of female characters in starring roles, and the lack of female characters who speak – are important to address, I would say fiction is already misogynistic enough.


Who Gets A Happily Ever After In 2018?


Who Gets A Happily Ever After In 2018?

There was an excellent – and very lengthy – article about the romance genre over at BuzzFeed yesterday. It’s very US-centric, and focuses on the state of women’s rights and immigrants’ rights in Trump’s America, but it is still an interesting read for everyone. After all, the behaviour of the White House and the rise of the so-called alt-right have effects on all of us.

The article includes interviews with a number of bestselling romance authors.