Female genre fiction in the twentieth century

Publication year

I offer in this chapter a definition of the romance novel, some categories to advance its literary analysis, and a first effort to place it in literary history, especially in foundational relation to the sentimental literature of the nineteenth century. I will then identify and analyze seven twentieth-century American romances dating from both before and after the 1980s boom in romance publishing. Brief analysis of these seven novels will demonstrate the continuity of the romance form, the persistence of sentimental values, as well as the variety of protagonists created and issues addressed by the twentieth-century American romance novel. (848-849)


we can define the genre by saying if the focus of the book is courtship and the outcome betrothal, the novel is a romance. (849)


The novels discussed are: Samuel Richardson's Pamela; E. D. E. N. Southworth's Vivia; or The Secret of Power; Kathleen Thompson Norris's Rose of the World; Faith Baldwin's Week-End Marriage; Patricia Highsmith's The Price of Salt; Kathleen Woodiwiss's The Flame and the Flower; Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me; Beverly Jenkins's Indigo; Ann Herendeen's Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander; Nora Roberts' Irish Thoroughbred.