Last Thursday, BBC Radio 4 broadcasted a programme called “Guilty Pleasure — A Hundred Years of Mills&Boon” presented by stand-up comedian Lucy Porter. All in all, it was a surprisingly balanced programme with interviews with M&B authors and editors as well as with Joseph McAleer, who has written one of the important studies on M&B. They also interviewed two female academics who forcefully stated how very, very bad M&B novels are for women. (Over at Teach Me Tonight, Laura blogged about the programme last week; I’ve snatched the following quotations from her post). Celia Brayfield said,
It’s bad for women to suggest that the whole of their lives will be sorted out if they simply attract the right man. That is not the reality and it stands in the way of women taking responsibility for their own lives and for the lives of their children. Mills & Boon just says “make yourself attractive darling and some lovely bloke will come along and take care of it” and that simply doesn’t happen and it also encourages women to be dependent, to underachieve their potential, and to not fully realise themselves as human beings.
(Right. Female readers are apparently too stupid to distinguish between fiction and reality. I hope nobody let’s them read fantasy or SF!) (Hey, wait, does that mean I won’t be swept off my feet by that Italian multi-millionnaire next week? Duh.)
Brayfield also thinks that “[…] quite honestly any woman with two neurons to rub together would have serious trouble reading more than one of these books unless she had the flu.”
(Oh dearie me. I guess that means I’ve got only one neuron left after all those romance novels killed off the rest of ’em. Too bad.)
They also had another female scholar, who chimed in: “So as I say, I see them [M&B novels] as a literature of unhappiness rather than happiness. They’re a classic literature for rather miserable, rather disappointed, rather jaundiced people.”
(She’s right, of course. I was totally, totally miserable last week.) (Oh yes, silly me, that might have had something to do with my teeth. It’s too bad when you’ve got only one neuron left. You forget so many things…)
Anyways, Brayfield and Evans came across as stuck-up, snobby academics, even worse, stuck-up, snobby, uninformed academics because it was pretty clear that they’ve never read a romance novel. All they did was to rehash all those idotic academic studies on romance which claim that reading romance is like taking drugs or tranquillizers, that it keeps women from rebelling against the yoke of patriarchy, blah-blah-blah.
Soooo, I thought that it would be appropriate for this week’s TT13 to list 13 of my favourite M&B titles. Me and my one lonely, little neuron love them to pieces.