Gimme Shelter: Feminism, Fantasy, and Women's Popular Fiction

Publication year

Ellis links elements of romance fiction to the social conditions in which its readers (in the US, from the 50s onwards) have found themselves. She therefore argues, for example, that romances containing rapes of the heroine

offers a woman reader not the vicarious experience of rape [...] but a framework through which she can view her sexual history. (225)


Houses in working-class developments are as interchangeable as the jobs their owners perform and are subject to constantly increasing taxes, deterioration due to negligent construction, and so forth. The romance house, on the other hand, is a fantasy creation that does provide a material base for family life extending through time. (226)