Sunday, 10 August 2014
And they lived happily ever after...
It’s an easy post this time round, as it happens, because I’m so seduced by Italy that it’s inevitable that I’m thinking about romance and, since Fate seems to have transformed me into a romantic novelist whether I like it or not, it seems equally inevitable that I would end up thinking about Romeo and Juliet.
It isn’t my favourite Shakespeare play, I confess — too many silly decisions made for the plot to be credible although you can’t help but be in thrall to the language. So I was struck by the response to it on a visit to the Casa Giuletta in Verona. There’s something incongruous about the way that hordes and hordes of people flock to a manufactured attraction, jamming up the narrow entry to pay homage and make desperate pleas to someone who never existed.
As a romance writer, I’m driven by the need for a happy ending. That’s what readers want. Most romance writers (and readers) would agree that Romeo and Juliet, like Wuthering Heights isn’t a romance for all its power and passion. The same can be said for other great classic novels (though Jane Eyre, with it’s lip-quivering ‘Reader, I married him,’ unquestionably fits the mould). You can produce a wonderfully passionate story but if the boy doesn’t get the girl — it ain’t a romantic novel.
Sometimes I find this a little constraining, because I’m also impelled to write about real life. (I’ve moaned about this before and I dare say I’ll do so again.) But the message I’ll be taking home from Verona is scrawled on the walls near to Juliet’s balcony. It’s that people — readers — are definitely looking for that happy ending. And because real life might let you down it’s up up to the romantic novelist to deliver.