Girl Meets Girl: Changing Approaches to the Lesbian Romance

Publication year

That the romance should play a key role in lesbian fiction may come as a surprise to the reader, since the heterosexist ideology informing the genre and the emphasis it places on sexual difference make it appear, on first impression, unsuited to lesbian appropriation. However, other features it displays help to account for the appeal it exerts. The romance is a genre which traditionally treats the theme of love and appeals to female readership. [...] In addition, the idealised portrayal of a strong-willed heroine and her emotional development, which characterises twentieth century versions of the genre, allows for a celebratory portrayal of the female protagonist and her relationships. It also encourages a strong degree of reader identification. The varied use that writers make of these features is illustrated in the three works of lesbian popular fiction by Isabel Miller, Michelle Martin and Deborah Powell, on which I have chosen to centre my discussion in this chapter. (189-190)

The books discussed are Isabel Miller's Patience and Sarah, Michelle Martin's Pembroke Park and Deborah Powell's Bayou City Secrets.