Nancy Pearl is America’s greatest librarian. She talked about the romance genre, saying “literary fiction is always judged by the best examples of it, and romance is always judged by the worst”. Those who read educational books always seem to look down upon those who enjoy a heartwarming romance novel. We as a society place emphasis on elements like productivity. Enjoyment, for us, has become something you must earn. Reading books for fun has become an activity people have come to belittle. Here’s what Bridgerton author Julia Quinn has to say about it.
Romance- the literature equivalent of country music
Any person who has spent more than 5 minutes on Netflix ought to have noticed Bridgerton. After all, with its modern rendition of pop classics and the exquisite gowns and balls, it is difficult to ignore it. As many of us know, the show is extremely popular, topping charts right since its release. However, the popularity and success it garnered ended up perplexing Quinn to no end. And she doesn’t mean it in an “I never thought it would happen to me” manner but in an “I really never thought it would happen to anyone in my genre” manner.
Quinn starts her interview with TUDUM by talking about how widespread romance is. It is the biggest genre of literature out there. Yet, we rarely see people reading it in the open or exploring the literature section of a library. Considering the stigma around literature, Quinn revealed how she never thought that “anything would be capable of bursting that bubble.”
Why did the Bridgerton author think this way? Why is romance as a genre looked down upon?
If we have noticed a pattern in television in recent times, it is that we as a society love crime and drama. Anything that convinces us that happy endings and joy aren’t really realistic seem to gratify us in some manner. We praise our surrounding pain and suffering while forgetting that it is the art that makes one happy that deserves more attention.
Quinn thinks all of this goes back to society’s tendency to not recognize femininity with good quality. Romance novels are largely written by females. From Jane Austen and Emily Brontë to Sappho and now Madeline Miller and Colleen Hoover, we have seen women make this genre their own. The Bridgerton author thinks that “we’re trained to look down upon things that are primarily for women.” We have made some significant progress in the way we see femininity. Nonetheless, the road ahead is long and tedious with many a mile to go.
Quinn has helped literature fiction come out of a bubble with the help of ShondaLand. The popularity the Netflix Original received has made things better. It made sure that fans came to acknowledge books of the genre, giving them exposure like never before.
Stream Bridgerton on Netflix to watch how Quinn made her characters talk about sexism, opportunities, and equality.