Houses of Genre Fiction: The Shared Estrangement of Postwar American Culture

Brandeis University
Publication year

Chapter 4 is titled "Bedroom Romances" however, some of the novels examined are not romances.

The anxiety that preoccupies the first two novels examined in this chapter, Grace Metalious's Peyton Place (1956) and Kathleen Woodiwiss's The Flame and the Flower (1972), is [...] rooted in the permeability of private space. In each case, the romantic heroine's virtue is menaced by physical violence because they occupy insufficient domestic spaces that are more akin to the economic housing built during the Great Depression. The key to authenticity in these novels is thus expanding domestic space enough to be able to have a room of one's own. However, the final two novels addressed in this chapter wonder what room looks like when new forms of labor are introduced. Published after the 1980s inflection point, Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale (1992) and Helen Hoang's The Kiss Quotient (2018) suggest that an authentic self is achieved by redistributing the responsibilities for self-reflection that were, in the earlier period, exclusively the task of the individual romantic protagonist. The anxiety is therefore that the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, resulting in characters that lead entirely insular lives devoid of any connections to an outer world save for economic ones. Although the threat of physical violence certainly persists within this new arrangement, characters are more often menaced by social and economic violence. (216-217)

A fifth novel examined in this chapter is Danielle Steel's A Perfect Stranger (1982).

The section on The Flame and the Flower covers pages 227-235.

The section on A Perfect Stranger is on pages 235-244.

The Kiss Quotient is discussed on pages 254-261.