They are all over the bestseller lists. Written for women. Supposed to “take you out of today’s world” of you name it: hate, politics, global crisis, covid, etc. I do not like these books, because they have been written over and over and over, despite being cliches.
You know the ones I am talking about:
- A woman inherits a huge house from a long lost relative. First of all, that almost never happens. She goes back to the picturesque small town where the house is. She starts to rehab it and a) finds some old letters in the floorboards that reveal a love story for the ages, or b) hires a hunky contractor with a shady past and they have steamy sex, or c) she finds a skeleton in the attic and solves a mystery.
- A wedding. One sister discovers that her sister’s groom either murdered someone or is the man who she had a brief affair with and never forgot.
- Oh my God: the bookstore. Why do all authors think that inheriting a quirky little bookstore is the perfect way to make a living, or struggle to? So romantic. Surrounded by either antique books (so much more atmospheric) or books about travel and cooking? The smell of books, the lovely dust, the eccentric customers, and that one man with a lock of hair falling over his brow? I have worked retail, folks, and let me tell you: selling merchandise is selling merchandise. Whether it is a book or a can of hairspray, it goes the same way: you ring it up and put it in a bag, hand it to the customer who then leaves the store. You take inventory. You order stuff. You straighten the shelves. Your stockroom is in shambles. Your feet ache from standing all day. And your customers chew gum, pick their noses when they think no one is watching, and shoplift. Retail sucks, for the most part.
- The cottage by the sea. A woman who has suffered a loss rents said cottage to recover. The octogenarian neighbor in the cottage next to her is crusty and never shaves. He turns out to be her best friend, imparting knowledge and becoming a surrogate grandpa. Of course, his grandson is a famous actor with piercing blue eyes, who comes to visit, and there are sex scenes.
- The character you love to hate. Either it is a woman who is too beautiful, and her beauty causes her to be cruel, bratty, and irresponsible, and yet all the men in the world fall for her. This trope is so tired it snores. Or, in contrast, it is simply a contemptible person that is put in the book to make the protagonist look even better.
- Do male lovers in books always have to have brooding eyes, ride surfboards, know how to fix cars, or have lots and lots of hair? Do female lovers always wear their lover’s shirts around with nothing underneath?
- Finally, because I could go on and on: The boss. A woman has a one-nighter with a man she meets in a bar (how often does this actually happen, by the way? NEVER) only to discover the following Monday that he is her boss. Or, just to flip things around–that she is HIS boss. My God. This has happened perhaps three times in the history of the entire world.
If you want to write a book, see the above and try harder. Or, go ahead and write on of these, hit the top of the lists, and make me even more jealous than I already am…